Apple's plans for an iPhone with DSLR-quality camera all but confirmed with LinX acquisition

By Shawn Knight ยท 20 replies
Apr 15, 2015
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  1. apple iphone dslr-quality linx camera dslr lens smartphone camera linx computational imaging mobile camera dslr camera phone depth-sensing acquistion

    Apple has purchased LinX Computational Imaging Ltd., an Israeli-based firm that specializes in depth-sensing camera technology. Terms of the deal were not disclosed although sources familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that the two companies had been discussing an acquisition price in the $20 million range.

    As the publication points out, LinX develops and markets tiny cameras for smartphones and tablets that use an array of sensors to capture multiple images at once. A proprietary algorithm is then able to take those images and develop useful depth-based information and 3D maps.

    apple iphone dslr-quality linx camera dslr lens smartphone camera linx computational imaging mobile camera dslr camera phone depth-sensing acquistion

    Although still relatively new to the consumer market, depth-sensing mobile camera technology isn’t an entirely new field.

    If you recall, the Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet I recently reviewed came equipped with Intel’s new RealSense Snapshot Depth Camera. The slate used a trio of rear-facing cameras to capture a stereographic image that can then be manipulated to show various information. While a neat idea, the implementation failed to impress and turned out to be more of a gimmick than anything else.

    apple iphone dslr-quality linx camera dslr lens smartphone camera linx computational imaging mobile camera dslr camera phone depth-sensing acquistion

    Apple confirmed that it had indeed scooped up LinX. A spokesperson said Apple buys smaller tech companies from time to time but they generally do not discuss their purpose or plans for a particular acquisition.

    The underlying story here has nothing to do with depth-sensing technology like Inte'ls RealSense. Instead, Apple purchased LinX to dramatically bolster the image quality of its iPhone camera.

    apple iphone dslr-quality linx camera dslr lens smartphone camera linx computational imaging mobile camera dslr camera phone depth-sensing acquistion

    Late last year, technology blogger John Gruber said Apple’s next iPhone may feature the biggest camera jump ever. Specifically, he referenced a two-lens application that could produce DSLR-quality photos. Curiously enough, LinX announced last June that it had developed a system capable of doing just that.

    Add in a recent patent application for a triple-sensor, prism-based light-splitting camera and it becomes increasingly likely that Apple is indeed preparing an iPhone camera system that’d put all other mobile efforts to shame.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    Apple may be able to do that but before they can wipe the crap out their eyes the competition would've caught up, in fact I'd be surprised if they're not already working on a solution of their own.
  3. DSLR quality is the result of a sensor, processor and lens combination that cannot be replicated in a 1cm thick smartphone. Less marketing hype please.
    p51d007 likes this.
  4. You can't sail west, you will fall off the edge! Man will never fly.......
  5. Never say never. Look at the camera size and how powerful it already is, technology only gets smaller and more powerful every year, give it a while and you will see DSLR quality in a smartphone.
  6. DSLR will never match SLR quality nevermind.

    Purists will always see walls. Visionaries see through them.
  7. Carlos Andres

    Carlos Andres TS Rookie

    Why not use the S6 instead of the OLD S4 to compare?
  8. I like how they didnt even bother to try and focus the iphone and s4 images... im pretty sure both those devices can take better quality shots than that lol. to much hype over a small breakthrough
  9. How about, they won't match DSLR quality because DSLRs will also upgrade their sensors and also have actual lenses.
  10. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,310   +651

    It cracks me up whenever I see stories about PINHOLE sensors, achieving "DSLR" quality. Spoken by people who have NEVER shot photos obviously. When the average APS-C sensor, is more than 10 TIMES the size, of your average cell phone, not to mention the glass on most dSLR cameras, is more expensive than cell phones, it is just impossible to get the DOF and image quality on a pinhole sensor, that even a consumer dSLR can achieve.
  11. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,268   +437

    I'm not a camera guy but have a friend who is and he says the same thing. So based on the comment in here its easy to tell who knows what they are talking about and who doesn't.

    you my friend have a clue :)
    p51d007 likes this.
  12. Shawn Knight

    Shawn Knight TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 9,471   +100

    As someone that does take photos with a "real" camera, I tend to agree. But you have to consider that this is a completely new technology we're talking about. Could it be a bust or pure marketing hype? Absolutely. Could it actually revolutionize mobile photography? Why not?

    Look how far cell phone cameras have come in the past decade alone. The same can be said for point-and-shoot digital cameras, DSLRs, micro 4/3 cameras, action cameras as so on. The point is, they all sucked in the beginning but were made much better over time with technology advancements.

    I'm still a proponent of using an actual camera versus a cell phone camera so I'm somewhat on your side here but to dismiss something as 'impossible' is something that's hard for me to do.
    Burty117 and gazzaman like this.
  13. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,945   +765

    The thing is that while these improvements are happening in the phone camera realm, improvements are also happening in the DSLR realm. In the commercial arena, I.e., non-military market, one of the things that sets DSLRs apart from phone cameras is the lenses. If someone figures out how to put the quality of a "big glass" lens into a phone camera, then phone cameras will catch up to DSLRs; until then, though, DSLRs, at least as I see it, will retain their lead.
  14. Hasbean

    Hasbean TS Booster Posts: 112   +29

    Apple knows that you can achieve DSLR quality from a pinhole, after all they did innovate the camera.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  15. So true.
  16. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,310   +651 my "feet wet" back in the 60's as a kid, when my dad was a photographer for a local newspaper. Use to go into the dark room with him and watched how he developed the negatives and he let me rock the negatives in the developer solution. Started out with a brownie, worked my way up in the early 80's to an SLR, then a dSLR in the early 21st century. I shoot between 5k-6k photos per year. Shooting RAW only.
    In some ways, people today are kind of short changed. In "the olden days", every snap of the shutter costs you money, in film & developing. Now, you pretty much have unlimited "film". You had to think about the photo, exposure, f/stop, shutter speed. Heck, I see people that spend thousands on expensive cameras and never take it off the green (A) auto mode.
    If people only understood photography, and knew how expensive some full frame dSLR's costs, then looked at how expensive some of the glass lenses are, they would figure out there isn't any way a sensor the size of a sunflower seed, can produce a photo, with the "pop" that a Dslr can achieve.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  17. Imo I dont think apple really needs to focus on improving cameras so much. the iphone 6, gs6, xperia z3, htc one m9 etc all have amazing cameras when it comes to taking stills. id prefer apple and others try to improve video recording fps/quality over actual picture quality. cameras dont need improving that drastically on phones right now. the issue that needs to be worked out is hardware compatibility (at least when it comes to droid) I cant count how many $300+ droids ive returned simply because of horrible gaming performance. when I open clash of clans on a 300 dollar phone I expect my interface to be buttery smooth and not laggy/stuttery. phones are computers not cameras. focus on the computer aspect first.
  18. Wagan8r

    Wagan8r TS Evangelist Posts: 603   +64

    Came for a story; left wanting a hefeweizen.
    agb81 likes this.
  19. I call "excrement of a male bovine creature". Thing is "DSLR-quality" is not a term that specifies anything. It's more or less the same as "digital quality" or "CD-quality". It says nothing whatsoever. Yes, under the right circumstances I can get a rather cheap point-and-shoot camera and create great pictures. And I can use a DSLR under the same circumstances and mess things up. However, if I know what I'm doing I can create great pictures under difficult circumstances with a DSLR. With a cheap point-and-shoot? No.

    So telling me a new invention is able to create DSLR quality in a phone? Apple PR - nothing more, nothing less and I don't buy it.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  20. It's all marketing hype. I don't think they will ever match DSLR images.
    But look good it will. I am keen to see the results.
  21. Railman

    Railman TS Booster Posts: 708   +101

    I doubt if it would be up to the same quality as a decent Bridge or Compact camera least of all a DSLR!

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