May 15, 2019
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Smartphones typically have more than one camera, but they don’t always work in tandem. Imagine the photo quality that could be achieved if they teamed up on every shot, each taking a photo and then combining the best parts of each to create one beautiful, master image. With the Nokia 9, which boasts five cameras capturing five shots every time you snap, it’s reality.
The Nokia 9 powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform is a major achievement in computational photography. Thanks to a collaboration with HMD, Light, and Qualcomm Technologies, the Nokia 9 is the world’s first smartphone to feature a five-camera array. Every time you take a photo, the cameras collectively capture and process up to 240 megapixels of data, which is then used to create one stunning 12-megapixel photo and a corresponding 12-megapxiel depth map. This is the largest amount of photography data ever captured and processed by a Snapdragon 845 device. By combining the best parts of the data to form one image, the Nokia 9 is designed to ensure your photos feature stunning sharpness, bright colors, dynamic range, and depth for realistic-looking Bokeh.
The five-camera modules that make this possible are nearly the same. They contain the same image sensors, which have 1.2μm size pixels, and lenses, which have 28mm focal length with bright f/1.8 apertures. The only difference among the cameras is that two of the image sensors can collect color via the color filter, while the other three cameras use the same sensors without color filters. These are typically called “monochrome” image sensors and are capable of capturing 3X more light. So each camera captures the same image, but at varying exposures so you can shoot both very bright and dark imagery. These images are then merged with color images to build one master photo containing contrasting bright, dark, and color details. Overall, the Nokia 9 captures 10X more light compared to a smartphone camera with a single image sensor.
Capturing, sorting, and combining all this data to create one stunning photo takes a lot of processing power. The heterogeneous architecture of the Snapdragon 845 makes it possible to distribute the workload across the platform to the cores that can most quickly and efficiently accomplish the tasks. Some tasks are better suited for the ISP, while others are better suited for DSP, GPU, or CPU. Handling the tasks in this way makes the camera experience feel fast while also conserving battery, so you can capture more photos per charge and maintain efficient battery life.
For example, the Qualcomm Hexagon DSP has smaller pipelines than the Qualcomm Kryo CPU, but it has a lot more of them, making it excellent for processing pixel data in parallel. For this reason, Light’s noise reduction algorithms were moved from the CPU to DSP and as a result, according to Light, it was able to offer more shots per charge as well as process 3X faster and at 10X lower power.
Simultaneously, while noise reduction is being performed, the Qualcomm Adreno GPU is inspecting the 240 megapixels of data to render a 12-megapixel depth map. Most smartphones create a depth map that is a megapixel or less containing three to seven focal planes, but the Adreno GPU creates a massive 12-megapixel depth map filled with up to 1,500 focal planes. This level of depth enables photos with extremely realistic looking Bokeh and massive control over the blur-intensity of the Bokeh in the background and foreground. It also provides an astounding number of regions to shift focus to, so you can shoot now and focus later. The depth maps are created as “Gdepth” files – Google’s official file format for depth maps, which can be used and stored in Google Photos.
With its five cameras and the heterogeneous architecture of the Snapdragon 845 that allows them to work together virtually seamlessly, the Nokia 9 makes taking stunning photos easier than ever. And with the tools in hand to take the ultimate shot, you can connect and communicate with the world around you in brand new ways.
The Nokia 9 featuring the Snapdragon 845 is expected to be available later this year.