How to make a Lucida camera

What makes a good cell phone camera?

How do you take photos with your smartphone that look like professional pictures? Which phone takes the best pictures? And what can you do when there is little light? This and other information, practical examples, suggestions and detailed instructions have been put together by the Kartenmacherei from six photo and technology experts. In a free e-book, the experts reveal tips and tricks about which smartphone they think has the best mobile phone camera and noteworthy apps for post-processing. The first step, however, is: How do you actually recognize a good mobile phone camera? Which technical aspects do you have to pay attention to?

How many pixels should a good cell phone camera have?

The higher the megapixel specification, the better the photos or the image quality? That's not exactly true. A high number of pixels (one million pixels = one megapixel) ensures more detailed and true-to-color images. In addition to the number of pixels, their size is also essential for a good smartphone camera. The larger a pixel, the more light the sensor can absorb and the less image noise there is. The decisive factor is therefore the ratio of pixel size to sensor size. If an image sensor is small and the resolution is large, so that there are many but very small pixels on the sensor, the photos will tend to be noisy. The same number of pixels on a larger sensor allows for larger pixels, so the recordings are of better quality.
However, the resolution should be at least between 8 and 12 megapixels. This order of magnitude is sufficient to view pictures on the PC screen or to print them out in A4 size. More than 12 megapixels make sense if images larger than A4 are to be printed.

Big sensor, big aperture

A larger sensor is usually also more expensive. However, the manufacturers rarely specify the size of the sensors installed. "Probably also because for most customers (mistakenly) the number of megapixels is the only yardstick," reports technology journalist Steffen Zellfelder in the e-book. Here it means for the buyer: research, either on the web (also fotoMAGAZIN always tries to publish the sensor sizes in the reports on smartphones) or through direct contact with the manufacturer.
But it is not enough to convert the megapixels to the sensor size, since the built-in lens and the software used also have an influence on the image quality. Therefore, it can be more helpful to look at sample images with very strong and very weak ambient light.
Furthermore, the aperture has an influence on a "good cell phone camera". In order to be able to take good-looking pictures in poor lighting conditions, the largest possible aperture (= small aperture number) should be built into the smartphone camera. In this way, sufficient light still hits the sensor even in weak ambient lighting. Since the aperture of most smartphones cannot be adjusted, the aperture number should be f / 1.8 or below.

More than a camera

In addition to the sensor and the aperture, the built-in lens and the software used also influence the quality and design options of cell phone images. An optical image stabilizer can help against the blurring of photos in newer models. Wide-angle lenses enable large overviews to be displayed, and telephoto lenses can be used to bring objects that are far away. In this regard, however, an optical zoom should always be preferred over a digital or hybrid zoom.

In order to further improve the image results, manufacturers are now even installing several cameras with different sensors in a smartphone. With the help of software, the image information from the individual cameras is then converted into an image so that the quality increases. In this way, it is also possible to play with the depth of field and use different focal lengths.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is also playing an increasingly important role, because intelligent photo assistants analyze motifs before they are triggered, so that things like depth mapping for subsequent processing of the depth of field or the semantic assignment of the motif are automatically adjusted.


In summary: what makes a good cell phone camera?

  • Aperture size
    • Rule: The wider the aperture can be opened, the easier it is to take pictures in low light
    • How much: f / 1.8 or below
    • Where can I find the information: on the product packaging or description
  • Megapixels
    • Rule: The more and the larger the pixels, the more detailed and color-accurate the images
    • How much: at least 8 megapixels
    • Where can I find the information: on the product packaging or description
  • Ratio of pixel to sensor size (pixel pitch)
    • Rule: The larger the sensor, the more and the larger pixels fit on it
    • Where can I find the information: usually has to be requested from the manufacturer, as the information is rarely published
  • The following equipment features are "nice to have", but not absolutely necessary:
    • Different lenses (e.g. wide angle and telephoto lens) can depict very wide or very distant subjects
    • Multiple cameras such as dual or triple cams allow you to adjust the depth of field and various focal length settings
    • AI photo assistants automatically recognize the photographed subject and adjust the camera settings accordingly
    • Optical image stabilization ensures less blurred images

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