The thing that could make smartphone cameras even better is just a little bit more protection.
One of the most frustrating issues with cameraphones that makes a dedicated camera far superior doesn’t have to do with the sensor. In fact, the sensor and all the computational photography that they build into a cellphone camera is fantastic. Instead, the issues have to do with the lens. We’re not talking about cameraphones needing a zoom lens but we’re instead talking about a little thing that we all take for granted: lens hoods. How many of you reading this use lens hoods and not lens caps? Many of you probably use both. Personally, I hate lens caps–they get lost a lot. But a lens hood is often the perfect thing for me and there are a variety of reasons why.
The idea occurred to me the other day when I realized that one of the biggest problems that I’ve got with my iPhone camera is the lack of contrast that it delivers at times. It’s an issue that I often try to work around until I realized that blocking specific light sources from hitting the lens could majorly fix the issues. This is why lens hoods are so fantastic for dedicated camera lenses. But those lenses also have coatings and designs to keep lens flare down which lessens the contrast and details in the image. But lens manufacturers have been working on this for many years and have found a very good balance of both worlds. However, when we talk about smartphone cameras we’re often too busy talking about the sensor and all the programming tech behind it all. But for some odd reason, all we talk about with lenses is the aperture. As it is, many phones don’t even have a lens with a real aperture. Instead, they’ve opted to try to get all those effects simulated digitally. In their efforts, they’ve forgotten about what makes analog lenses so great vs digital lens simulations.
So how could a lens hood work for a cameraphone? It could be a retracting mechanism of some sort that comes out. Of course, this would only be for the rear camera and not for the selfie camera. Photographers for years have relied on what lens hoods can do to improve the quality of their images. When working with a phone, it’s not always easier to cup your hand over the camera depending on a variety of factors. But this is one thing that I’m not sure computational photography can fix.