Most modern smartphones have at least two cameras: one on the back and one on the front. Some have dual rear (or front) cameras to let you snap wide-angle, zoom, or bokeh-style photos. And Huawei recently introduced the first phone with three rear cameras.

But why stop there? Rumor has it that LG is working on a phone with five cameras (three on the back and two on the front), and the Washington Post reports that camera maker Light is working on smartphone prototypes with as many as 9 rear cameras.

Light/Washington Post

Light is the company that makes the L16 camera, which uses a combination of 16 different cameras to help you take a variety of different types of photos without swapping out lenses.

The camera can combine data from its multiple optical sensors to create 52MP pictures from 10 different images shot at different widths and/or apertures.

Right now the L16 camera is the only device that uses Light’s technology. But according to the Washington Post, the company is working with smartphone makers to integrated the technology into handsets. Light is currently testing prototypes with between 5 and 9 lenses, and the newspaper says that a phone featuring Light’s multi-camera technology “will be announced later this year.”

Odds are that it’ll be a high-end phone. The Light L16 currently sells for $1,950. While it’s likely that a stripped down version of the technology used in smartphones would be cheaper (and that a major smartphone maker would be able to leverage economies of scale better than a camera startup to help bring down production costs), I still wouldn’t expect the first Light-powered phones to be particularly cheap.

via Engadget


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11 replies on “Light is working on smartphones with up to 9 cameras”

    1. Isn’t this largely how Foveon sensors work? Though obviously lacking the dedicated Luminosity channel – although this could be averaged from the combined data of the RGB channels.

      A digital adaptation of Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky’s process.

  1. What is emerging here is a class of devices that are cameras first that just happen to have smart phone functionality as an addon

    1. Just give me the Panasonic CM1 with updated specs, and a better battery.

    1. I think the idea is to combat the limitations of a tiny sensor; eg. wide DOF, limited DR, high-ISO noise, no aperture control etc.

      5 sensors can capture a bracketed-exposure simultaneously, meaning native DR-expansion for moving objects, with no halos/blurs.

      5 sensors capturing simultaneously can be be averaged to remove high-ISO noise, meaning a camera capable of unheard of low-light photography, without aggressive blurring/noise-reduction.

      Post-capture focus adjustment (ala Lytro), never ever miss focus again.

      Or, digitally narrow the DOF for simulated Bokeh, with perfect cutouts.

      If they opt for a monochrome sensor (like Leica) in addition to colour, then they could remove the Bayer filter and produce some very finely detailed photos.

      It’s a clever approach to small-sensor limitations.

      Especially, if they allow you the RAW data from all sensors simultaneously.

      1. Stephen… very good points. Light has the 16 lens/sensor Light L16 camera… 2 of those are monochrome to enhance the fine detail.

        They are also planning on releasing the file format so people could work with the individual files as well as the depth map which comes with every image (that allows the re-focusing) sometime in 2018.

    1. You actually want them as far apart as possible to enhance the depth map for better imaging from all the sensors.

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