A new Apple patent is trying to solve lots of problems with cameraphones and in some ways may cement the death of point and shoot cameras. According to Forbes, it’s using a mirror, periscope, and prism. Sounds almost like the shooting mechanism in a DSLR, right? It’s not.
One of the biggest “problems” with smart phones is that in order for them to include a zoom lens, they need to make the cameraphone bigger and the camera itself elongates when shooting. Because of this, many cameras have simply just used prime lenses–and there isn’t a single thing wrong with that. But in order to appeal to more customers, As detailed in the n ew Apple iPhone Camera Patent, the company came up with an innovative ideal to allow a zoom lens to work without making the phone larger. It involves using an optically stabilized mirror, a periscope to move the lens elements vertically instead of horizontally, and splitting the image using a prism before it hits the imaging sensor. In fact, this is how weathersealed point and shoots work and don’t become larger when zooming in or out. To be fair, the image quality of those cameras comes secondary to the tougher features.
It’s going to be a couple of years at least until phone manufacturers can do this with a 28-300mm equivalent zoom, and even then the aperture range is bound to change. So for the most part, the lower end point and shoots may be completely destroyed; though superzooms and more premium point and shoots will still be alive.
More than ever though, it seems like the camera will become a more premium item.