The gap between smartphones and digital cameras is soon about to get thinner as HTC predicts smartphones will be getting an optical zoom feature. An optical zoom is a true zoom feature that uses lenses to zoom in or out of a subject. It is much better than the digital zoom feature that current smartphones use which uses software to enlarge a photo and will often result in pixelatation. With optical zoom present in smartphones it will now be able to compete against digital SLRs.
HTC’s Symon Whitehorn says that it is possible that optical zoom will be coming to their Android smartphones within two years. In an interview with Vodafone he said that “I think we’re looking at about 18 months to two years until that lens barrier begins breaking down and it becomes much harder to justify buying a dedicated camera outside of specialist or nostalgia reasons.”
Right now smartphones are the device of choice for people who want to take photos. When someone takes a selfie it’s usually done with a smartphone since the photo can instantly be shared to any social network. When there is a party and photos need to be taken chances are a smartphone is going to be used.
One drawback to using a smartphone is that it doesn’t perform well when compared to regular cameras. Sure it is better than the point and shoot cameras but compared to digital SLR there is a huge gap in the quality of shots taken.
Symon further says that “There’s a boundary that everyone wants us to crack. As smartphones have become people’s primary camera, we expect more of them. That’s why we’ve put so much investment into the camera – because smartphone cameras take the majority of our images now. We already outperform a lot of compact point and shoot cameras, but we want to approach the performance of regular cameras. Every generation of our cameras seems to close that gap.”
For smartphones to reach the level of quality shots that can be done by a digital SLR it must work on its optical zooming feature. No amount of digital zooming will be able to match the quality of shots provided by optical zooming.
Several manufacturers have already toyed with the idea of optical zooming in smartphones however this has to be refined further. Symon believes that HTC is in a position to be an innovator in this area. He says that the company is trying to match the performance of dedicated cameras that have lenses that cost thousands of dollars. While this won’t happen in the short term period it is the direction that the company wants to pursue.