When mobile cameras began to gain relevance, there was an element that was essential to improve the results in both photography and video. Do you know what optical and electronic stabilization is and what they consist of? We tell you.
When evaluating a new mobile, one of the points we look at most are the cameras: the quality of the lenses, the aperture or the processing of the photography. Everything influences to put note to this new model. However, the type of stabilization and its effectiveness are also a weighty detail.
Simply with the pulse of our hand, it is not enough to get a sharp photo or video and nobody likes to have to go with the tripod everywhere. Hence, manufacturers will start working on stabilization systems for their high-end mobiles a few years ago and thus keep the camera lens as still as possible.
If we want to shoot a scene in low light, the lens will need to stay open longer for more light to come in, but this also increases the risk that the photo will come out blurred. That’s what stabilization is for, to minimize that effect and on mobiles we can mention two types of stabilization, optical and electronic.
Optical stabilization is based on a set of magnets that are placed around the lens and keep it almost floating, so when the mobile moves, the lens takes longer to follow that movement and suppresses those annoying vibrations.
Optical stabilization is measured by axes, that is, each pair of magnets is one axis and placed opposite each other, surrounding the camera lens. Depending on the manufacturer, one, two, three and up to four axes can be installed. The more axes, the better the stabilization.
However, neither of these two systems is perfect. Optical stabilization presents several problems. The first is that, being a physical system, magnets take up space and make cameras and mobile phones bigger. Also, the mechanism is not as fast as a digital system and takes longer to compensate for that movement. But the most important thing is that, once we have manufactured the phone, there is no room for improvement.
On the other hand, we have electronic stabilization, which is a digital system that eliminates the edges of the sensor and concentrates on central photography. In other words, we have two squares of different sizes, the small one would move inside the large one, compensating for the camera’s movement.
This method also has disadvantages. Yes, a digital process can be improved over time thanks to the software updates released by the company. In addition, if the movement of the hand is uniform, the software can predict and anticipate it to counteract it with greater precision.
However, not all is good news and that is that when you zoom in on the image or crop the edges to keep the central image, you lose quality in photography and video. Therefore, some brands do not opt for this system.
Depending on whom we ask, they will opt for one method or another, and it is that, in reality, these two stabilization systems cannot be compared because their objectives or strengths would not be the same. When Google launched its first Pixel phone and opted to use the electronic system, its explanation was that this method is better when recording video, while the optical system excels when we take photographs.
Both have their pros and cons as we have seen before. But they also depend on the brand of the mobile, the quality of these systems is not the same in all manufacturers. Apple, for example, is one of the best results it is achieving, you can see it in the tests we did on the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
The latest rumors suggest that Apple would be working to improve its optical stabilization in the new iPhone 12 that should be released in a few months. Based on that information, the 2020 iPhone would hold the lens steady and compensate for movement with the camera’s sensor. This simple change would allow to include the stabilization system in the ultra-wide-angle camera that until now did not have it.
Apple is not the only one that works with these two types of stabilization, in this report we explain the advantages and disadvantages of the cameras that equip each of the most premium mobile phones of 2020 and their analysis, Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi and many others, so you can compare which one has the best stabilization.
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