There’s something very special about photography and video that resonates with us all. I remember my first digital camera back in the 90s—it was a bulky, 1-megapixel camera that had storage for around 15 photos. Being able to capture great family moments during the holidays (even if grainy) and share them with family and friends (even with the laborious process of downloading the images to a PC and uploading them to a personal website) seemed magical. It’s still magical to me today, especially since the pictures are much higher quality and much easier to share—and the device is always with me in my pocket. Smartphone cameras have transformed photography, and Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processors are fueling the growth even further. Let me explain.
The rise of mobile imaging
Global camera phone sales have surged from less than 1 million units in 2000 to 1.4 billion in 2013, and are expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2017, according to a Strategy Analytics report. Today’s smartphones are not only eclipsing the camera industry in terms of shipments, they are also becoming as good as (or even better than) traditional point-and-shoot cameras. As of 2014, more than 1.8 billion photos are being shared online per day, as noted in this trend report, and Flickr, one of the world's most popular online photo sharing services, reports that the three most popular cameras used by its members are smartphones. Consumer demand for better mobile imaging is voracious, and Qualcomm along with other key ecosystem players plan to meet the challenge.
Supporting DSLR-like image quality in a mobile form factor
DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras take high-resolution photos with pristine image quality by using large, expensive image sensors and glass optics to capture as much light as possible. However, due to its small form factor and strict power and thermal constraints, a different approach to mobile phone camera design is needed. Large image sensors and thick lenses are simply not feasible for today’s sleek smartphones.
Snapdragon processors meet the challenge of offering advanced features and DSLR-like image quality at low power, notably by:
- Designing a superior ISP (image signal processor) architecture for remarkable image quality, high throughput, and advanced features
- Taking a holistic approach to designing a power-optimized system-on-chip (SoC) that takes advantage of heterogeneous computing
Snapdragon processor imaging high-level architectural diagram
Revolutionizing mobile imaging experiences
Snapdragon processors are revolutionizing the mobile imaging experience. These processors support sharp, high-quality, high-resolution photos with advanced pre- and post-processing features, even in tough lighting conditions. Many advanced imaging effects are accomplished through computational photography, which applies image manipulation techniques to enhance and extend digital photography capabilities.
With traditional cameras, composing the perfect shot requires patience, timing, and the right eye for detail. Snapdragon processors make it easier for amateur photographers to capture the perfect shot. For example, touch-to-track addresses the challenge of keeping the camera in focus and properly exposed on a moving object—without user intervention. And with on-board editing tools, today’s smartphones offer a much simpler, less costly, and faster means for creating a professional-looking image, including the ability to edit and enhance photos instantly.
Fueling innovation in the imaging ecosystem
Qualcomm works closely with the leading camera innovators in the hardware, software, and applications sector. The tight coupling of tools, technologies, and innovation combined with QTI’s comprehensive understanding of the imaging pipeline allows the optimization of the whole camera system (end-to-end).
Due to this proactive engagement across the ecosystem, Qualcomm is able to deliver high-quality and innovative features unavailable from other SoC vendors. Qualcomm supports its deep customer base in the camera ecosystem with the elements needed to innovate advanced mobile imaging products and experiences, supporting everything from component device selection to documentation, tools, training, and customer support. This is how next-gen camera experiences are created with Snapdragon processors.
To find more in-depth analysis about mobile imaging on Snapdragon processors, please read a recently published white paper entitled: Breakthrough Mobile Imaging Experiences: How Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processors are transforming photography. It provides deeper insight into the key points discussed above.
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Some of the features are only available on specific Snapdragon processors. Consult processor specifications for feature availability.