What is the telephoto lens on a smartphone and how does it affect the quality of photos?

To answer why telephoto lenses are increasingly used in smartphones, this article will help you learn about the telephoto lens and its role in smartphone photography.


What is a telephoto lens?


smartphone with rear camera cluster


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A telephoto lens is a type of lens that allows the camera to zoom in on the subject to be photographed without the loss of quality like digital zoom. This mechanism of magnifying subjects captured with telephoto lenses is also known as optical zoom. If the rear camera of your smartphone is described as having 2x zoom or 3x zoom, then that smartphone has a telephoto lens.


See also: What is optical zoom? Learn Phone Optical Zoom Lens


Regarding the ability to equip phones with telephoto lenses, Samsung smartphones are especially strong, when flagship smartphones like Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G can zoom up to 100x and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has 50x zoom. .


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What is a telephoto camera?  2


Telephoto lens on smartphones and its optical zoom capabilities


Zoom currently has two types: optical zoom and digital zoom, in which optical zoom is an inherent ability of DSLR cameras, while digital zoom was previously often equipped for mobile devices such as Cheap travel camera or smartphone. Digital zoom is easier to create, in return, the zoom ability is much worse than optical zoom and often suffers from graininess and blurring when zooming.


Now with the presence of telephoto lenses, smartphones have also gained optical zoom capabilities that allow you to magnify the camera lens to a very small or extremely distant detail and still ensure sharp images. Telephoto lenses are also popular these days, and the more expensive most smartphones are, the more excellent telephoto lenses they have with superior optical zoom capabilities.


A typical example of this is the camera of the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max duo. Both products have telephoto cameras with f/2.0 aperture. But while the iPhone 12 Pro can only have 4x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom, the iPhone 12 Pro Max can achieve 5x optical zoom and 12x digital zoom. This happens because Apple equips the iPhone 12 Pro Max with a telephoto camera with a 65mm focal length lens while the same parameter of the telephoto camera on the iPhone 12 Pro is 52mm.


What is a telephoto camera?


Disadvantages of telephoto lenses on smartphones


1. Difficult to operate effectively in low light conditions


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In most cases, the bigger the camera sensor, the better, because the larger surface area allows it to absorb more light, the more light there is, the better the photos will be. more detail and less noise. However, telephoto lenses on smartphones tend to use smaller image sensors, which capture less light and are more susceptible to noise. The reason for this is because manufacturers have to use sensors with small sizes so that the camera module does not protrude too much on the back of the smartphone, to avoid making the device bulky and unsightly.


convex camera cluster on samsung galaxy s20


Therefore, telephoto lenses are rarely used in low light conditions. When the smartphone photography assistant software perceives that the light in the frame is not enough, it will not use the telephoto lens to zoom in. Instead, it will just use digital zoom with the main camera, and you probably won't even notice a difference until you take a closer look at the photos and realize how blurry they look. suspect.


the night shooting ability of the telephoto lens on a smartphone


2. Unable to focus on subjects at close range


Summary of all information about telephoto lenses on 5 . smartphones


Although a regular lens on a smartphone will be able to focus on an object as far away as 7.6 cm (1 inch), most smartphone telephoto lenses will be close to you keeping the lens at least 30 feet away from the object. up to 60 cm to focus. The telephoto camera on most smartphones needs to be kept at least 1-2 feet away in order to focus. If the user is too close and places the device too close to the object, the smartphone will only be able to perform digital zoom with the main camera lens instead of optical zoom with the telephoto lens.


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