An unconfirmed report claims that an even more expensive version of the Google Pixel 7 may be in the works, and I’m not talking about 7 Pro here.
My thoughts were racing as a photographer when I heard this news. If this potential future powerhouse didn’t have to consider things like ‘affordability,’ it could have a shot at overtaking the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra as the best camera phone on TechRadar’s list.
For that to happen, Google will have to copy – or, better still, improve – one aspect of the powerful Samsung phone’s camera: The periscope’s zooming camera lens.
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the camera features of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, including the Pro-level video recording mode, the straightforward Single Take tool, and the superb Portrait mode, to name just a few. In retrospect, the phone’s periscope zoom camera is what strikes out to me.
It sported a 10MP 1.12um sensor and an f/4.9 periscope lens that provided a 10x optical zoom over the’main’ camera’s’ 230mm focal length. It’s a tool for getting up close and personal with distant objects.
This was originally intended for me to see how far I could bounce around in a landscape to get distant buildings and landmarks from afar, but I quickly discovered that it was even better for capturing images of birds and insects in flight. To make photos of flowers and people appear more detailed and “macro-like,” I used it with a larger focal length lens.
Even though it meant I had to stand far away from the subject, I began utilising this 10x zoom camera to capture portrait photographs instead of the true Portrait mode.
Building with the Pixel
Despite its impressive magnification capabilities, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s zoom photos still had several flaws that I’d like to see fixed in a future phone, or a competitor.
The sensor takes centre stage. I think a larger sensor would have been ideal because the photos were a tad dimmer than they should have been, and 10MP doesn’t give you enough pixels for post-production editing. Perhaps a larger and higher-resolution alternative would be ideal.
Zooming in on a celestial body like the moon on a smartphone might result in some unpleasant side effects, especially if your hands aren’t stable. It’s possible to end up aiming your phone towards something utterly unrelated to your subject if your phone wobbles just a little. Big-body cameras, on the other hand, are often easier to hold and have a lot of built-in stabilisation, so this problem isn’t as widespread for them.
When you’re zoomed in to extremes, digital stabilisation might help keep the image steady. Samsung’s Space Zoom isn’t as steady as other manufacturers’ equivalent modes, such those from Vivo; perhaps Google might borrow this company’s solutions. Many camera phones include OIS for part of their zoom snappers, like Samsung does.
Third on my wish list is a longer focus length, although I doubt Google will consider it because it is so narrow. I don’t recall ever seeing a smartphone with a lens longer than 230mm, and the periscope lens system would be so complicated that it wouldn’t be worth it for the manufacturer to invest the time and money in it. Then again, a guy can dream.
Maybe Google could imitate Sony’s Xperia 1 IV’s variable optical zoom as an alternative for those who enjoy zoom photos.
Because smartphone cameras have limited focal lengths, they rely on digital Zoom to fill in any gaps in the optical Zoom range of the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 10x optical zoom. When it comes to Sony’s latest smartphone, that’s not the case, since it can range from 85mm to 125mm.
It has a 5.2x zoom range, however it’s not the widest possible range. Could this system, but allow you to choose between 190mm and 230mm, combine the best of Samsung and Sony’s flagships? It’s a possibility.
The Google Pixel 7 Ultra is still just a glimmer in leakers’ eyes, so we’re in “wish-list” territory for the time being.
Take note of Samsung’s periscope zoom lens if Google wants to compete for the top spot in our camera phone rankings. Borrowing this lens should be at the top of the list.