100 megapixels on your smartphone

Today's top in mobile cameras is 48 megapixels, but 64 MP matrices are waiting just around the corner. Xiaomi, however, goes a step further and already announces cameras that will exceed 100 megapixels.

I remember very accurately the moment when Samsung and the launch of the Galaxy S7 switched from 16 megapixel to 12 megapixel matrixes. The reduction in the number of pixels translated into an improvement in the quality of photos, which is not a surprise for people who are interested in the technical aspect of photography.

It's a bit like TV sets. Take, for example, a 55-inch screen. If it has 4K resolution, the pixels are tiny, and if it has Full HD resolution, the pixels will be four times larger. The same relationship prevails in photography. If we fill the matrix of a given size with an increasing number of pixels, they will become smaller and smaller. Similarly, the fewer pixels, the larger the pixel.

The fun is not to overdo the number of pixels. The larger the pixel, the more light falls on it because it has a larger surface area. The more light, the more information and less noise. The best possible quality will give this matrix that will have the largest surface area with the smallest (with reasonable care) number of pixels.

From this point of view, 100 megapixels on your smartphone sounds like art for sake.

Xiaomi announced work on matrices with a resolution of 108 megapixels. The partner of this project will be Samsung, which will probably produce such matrices. At the same time, Xiaomi boasts that smartphones with 64 megapixel matrixes will hit the market at any moment. I wrote about them in a separate entry .


100 megapixels, however, is completely new. This resolution on a smartphone makes a huge impression from a purely marketing point of view, but I'm afraid that in practice it will end up with average quality photos. Such powerful resolution means miniature pixels that will have a problem at night. There will probably be 25 megapixel modes available, but is it worth creating a 100 MP matrix to group four pixels into one?

In addition, such resolution places very high demands on the optics, and the lenses in the smartphone lens are necessarily small. The optics problem is very visible in the dedicated cameras segment. Cheaper glasses are not able to provide adequate optical resolution to provide a sharp image on e.g. 36 megapixels. 100 MP requires the highest quality optics, and thus large, heavy and advanced.

100 megapixels is a great challenge even among dedicated cameras.

When we refer the announcements of a 100-megapixel mobile sensor to the world of large cameras, it gets even more interesting. Most manufacturers offer several camera lines, where the basic model has approx. 24 million pixels, and high-resolution versions have 36-42 megapixels. Recently, Sony has raised the bar to 61 megapixels with the A7R IV.

There are also the most advanced constructions on the market, which can boast a resolution of 100 MP, but there are barely a few such cameras. These are Fujifilm GFX 100, Hasselblad H6D-100c, Phase One XF IQ3, Hasselblad H6D-400C MS and Phase One IQ4 (also available in the 150 MP version). All of these cameras have medium format matrices, i.e. the largest that can be found in a digital camera. The prices of the cameras listed here range from 30 to approx. 200 thousand. PLN for the body itself.

I will observe this idea, but I do not believe that such a camera will have good quality.

Perhaps Samsung and Huawei will apply some software tricks to improve the quality of photos. Finally, Huawei shows that the 40 MP matrix can be used to get great mobile photos, although in theory it conflicts with the rules prevailing in large photography.

Until I see the samples, I won't believe that the same trick will work at 100 megapixels. At the moment the announcement looks like a continuation of the senseless number race. Just in time for the consumer who is served the ads "Intel processor, thousand disk, four giga graphics."

100 megapixels on your smartphone


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