HTC Predicts Optical Zoom to Take On dSLRs to Hit Smartphones as Soon as 2015

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When we reviewed the HTC One (M8) a little while ago, we found it to be a great device to take photos with, noting that only its resolution lets the One’s camera down. Of course, to anyone with any idea of how photography works, it’s clear that HTC is pushing forward and innovating. The Duo Camera might not be the magical innovation we all thought it would be, but it certainly works and HTC have opened it up to delivers through use of an SDK, which we’re sure will deliver new apps and software to take better advantage of the hardware further down the line. However, the company is looking forward to a not-so-distant future where smartphones will be able to take on dSLRs. Talking to Vodafone, HTC’s man in charge of imaging predicts 2015 will be a very interesting year for mobile photography.

Symon Whiteburn, head of imaging for HTC is predicting a future where the smartphone can do pretty much most of what you need it to do when taking photos on an everyday basis. Specifically, he talks about the lenses used in smartphones right now, and how they’re not capable of true optical zoom without being bulky affairs. Speaking about lens tech he says “Everyone wants optical zooming, and that’s on the horizon. We’re trying to match the performance of dedicated cameras where one piece of glass inside it costs £3000 alone. We’re never going to match that in the short term but we are getting towards those effects.” As someone who uses a dedicated camera for my personal hobby, I am not so sure we will see this sort of change as soon as Whiteburn is predicting, as he says that “I think we’re looking at about 18 months to two years until that lens barrier begins breaking down and it becomes much harder to justify buying a dedicated camera outside of specialist or nostalgia reasons.”

Symon hits a very important point there, saying that smartphone cameras will become good enough for most tasks, outside of specialist use. I’m a closet photographer of sorts, it’s a very personal hobby for me and I grew up shooting and processing film, so to me, taking photos involves a camera. As I spend time with more and more devices such as the HTC One (M8), the Galaxy S5 lying on my desk and even the Nexus 5, I can see that for a lot of uses, the smartphone gets the job done. Miniaturizing lenses capable of true zoom will be the next big thing I am sure, but 18 months before it becomes viable for a consumer product is a little ambitious to say the least.

HTC have shown that they’re keen to innovate and drive smartphone cameras forward with simplified features, better hardware and editing features that make sense. I was very impressed with the camera UI from the One (which you can read all about here) and to see HTC implement optical zoom would be great. Will we see it in the next 18 months? Let us know in the comments below and over on Google+!

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