Andi Sykes

Dual cameras are everywhere these days, but not all smartphones use both camera sensors in the same way. Below we’ve detailed the for most common methods smartphone brands combine their dual sensor systems to create amazing photographic effects.

The Telephoto Camera

The most common of all the dual camera systems today is the telephoto camera. In this configuration the main camera is paired with a secondary sensor with telephoto lens. This configuration became popular on the iPhone 7 Plus where the secondary camera was used to offer an optical zoom.

Generally a 2x optical zoom is what we get from a Telephoto system which gives users the advantage of taking lossless photos with less distortion at different zoom lengths when compared to traditional digital zoo.


The Telephoto system is also ideal for shooting portrait photos where the secondary lens is use to create the blurred back ground effect bringing depth to your images.

The Monochrome Camera

As the name suggests, this system uses a monochrome sensor i.e a camera that takes black and white photos only. Usually both sensors in the system are identical with the same sensor, aperture and focussing systems.

In addition to offering the phone a dedicated black and white sensor for more artistic shots, this system also takes 2 photos at a time and combines them both for greater detail and overall better image quality.



The Depth Sensor

Some smartphones use a second sensor to create the illusion of depth, something which was only previously found on high-end DSLR cameras.

The idea is pretty simple really. The primary camera maps the area in front of the lens while the secondary cameras is used to figure out how far objects are away from each other.

The phone is then able to separate objects in the background from the foreground to create a shallow depth of field effect.

The Wide-Angle Camera

It’s currently only LG and Motorola that have made use of the Wide-Angle system on smartphones, but when implemented correctly it can offers some great effects.

As you can tell by the name of this system the main camera is a standard sensor with regular lens, while a secondary sensor boasts a wider lens which offers a massive field of view letting the use capture a much wider area with having to shoot in panoramic mode.

It’s a very cool feature, but as the secondary sensor isn’t ideal for creating a depth effect which is popular at this time, we don’t see many manufactures choosing to opt for it.



3 Lenses and More

Now that the industry has embraced dual cameras on even the more affordable phones, we’re seeing some manufactures now spec 3+ sensors on the rear of their phones.

With 3 sensors manufactures have the choice to mix and max different lenses and sensors so that phones can offer dedicated sensors that specialise in certain aspects of photography.

We’ve already seen some brands use the 3rd lens as an additional Telephoto lens which shoots images from even further a field without loosing detail or distorting, but we may see other brands choose to offer the 3rd lens as a wide angle camera or even something new.



Like all world leading smartphone manufacturers, ELEPHONE is very aware of the fast moving camera technology and can confirm that we are now working on a 3 lens smartphone ourselves, but which of the above technologies will we choose to implement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.