A new study from MIT researchers shows that using a smartphone’s built-in camera is much better than you might think at capturing sharp, low-light images.
The study was conducted to explore how the smartphone camera is capable of capturing images with low-level noise, which can be used to create the illusion of a high-definition video, as opposed to high quality photos.MIT Media Lab researchers used the camera to create a series of low-res videos that they then played back on a Samsung Galaxy S5.
The videos were captured at various brightness levels and in various camera-quality settings, and showed how each of the four cameras captured images with different levels of noise.
The results show that the phone’s camera could accurately capture photos with noise levels of about 3.5 microns, or about a millimeter, down from about 4 microns.
The phone’s built in camera, which was only slightly smaller than a human hair, also made the images with noise appear much sharper than those produced using a standard smartphone camera.
“While smartphone cameras have traditionally been the preferred way to capture images with higher quality, we believe that the built-up noise produced by the camera is sufficient to produce a highly realistic video,” said John Mathers, an associate professor of computer science and engineering and a co-author of the study.
“By focusing on the noise, we were able to capture an image of a person’s face that was very realistic and would have been impossible without a high quality smartphone camera.”
Mathers is the lead author of a paper describing the findings.
“The high-resolution video images we were capturing with our Samsung Galaxy phones showed that they could be processed into a much clearer, more realistic image,” Mather, an assistant professor in the MIT Media Lab, said.
“When we used a smartphone camera to make the images, they looked much sharper and were much more natural than the videos we were seeing.”
The researchers tested the cameras to determine how well the phones could be used as a low-resolution camera.
Using the camera in a variety of settings, they found that the images produced were crisp and accurate.
Mather said the images could have been created using a phone’s internal processing system.
The smartphone cameras were also able to produce images that were crisp, accurate, and were not distorted by ambient noise.
The researchers also noted that while the images were crisp enough, they could not be used for creating a true-to-life video, since the images looked fuzzy and blurred.
However, the researchers said the camera could also produce images with high resolution and sharpness, which could help create the impression of high-end video.
The results of the research were published in the Journal of Communications.