It is reported that Huawei’s first liquid lens may become the future of mobile phone photography

Looking back at the past year, the development of mobile phone imaging has made many impressive achievements, and it is no longer limited to simple social life. It has finally begun to move towards a more professional, artistic and creative field, leaving us with I was very impressed.

It is true that although mobile phone imaging is getting stronger and stronger every year, it is hard to say that it has the capital to challenge professional cameras. After all, limited by the size of the body, the smart phone cannot accommodate a larger photoreceptor. This is precisely the knot that hinders the development of its camera.

However, from a rational point of view, the smartphone is not a mere recording tool in the final analysis, and it is fully understandable if it is not at the level of the camera, but as a consumer, it is right after all to hope that it will become stronger.

Fortunately, according to the law of the development of smart phones, the new year’s flagship product is bound to have further breakthroughs in imaging, and it will also bring more surprises to fans.

For example, the recent news that the Huawei P50 series will be the first to be equipped with liquid lenses has been endless. Although the reliability of the news is still doubtful, it is not groundless. In fact, as early as April last year, the State Intellectual Property Rights Administration of China granted Huawei a patent entitled “Motor components, camera modules, and electronic equipment for driving liquid lenses,” although it was said to be “components, modules” “Instead of “lens”, but there is a message between the lines: mobile phone liquid lens does exist.

So what is a liquid lens? I believe that after hearing this news, many friends have another question mark on their heads: What is a liquid lens?

To answer what is a liquid lens, we must first understand how the lens achieves zoom. As we all know, optical zoom is the truly lossless zoom technology, and the lens that supports optical zoom is usually a zoom lens rather than a fixed focus. But as mentioned in the previous article, the size of the mobile phone simply cannot provide the space for the lens module to move back and forth, and the zoom distance is very limited.

But even so, mobile phone manufacturers are not helpless. For example, some mobile phones have installed a huge zoom lens on the fuselage, which looks exactly like a card machine. The representative product is the Samsung Galaxy Zoom K.

In recent years, periscope zoom technology has gradually emerged. It cleverly folds the light and uses the “width” of the mobile phone to change the “thickness” to achieve 3x, 5x, or even 10x lossless zoom. Huawei P40 Pro+ carries 10 The same is true for the optical zoom.

Huawei P40 series periscope telephoto lens structure (picture from Huawei official website)

Through the above example, I believe that friends may have discovered that the premise of optical zoom is whether the lens can provide enough optical path transmission path length between the lens lenses. The fixed focus lens cannot move between the lenses, so the optical path length is constant and cannot be achieved. Zoom. Although the periscope zoom lens still belongs to the fixed focus category, the optical path is long enough and it has the ability to achieve a fixed level of zoom.

So what exactly is a liquid lens? In fact, the principle of the patent is not difficult to understand. It is to add a liquid fixed lens group between the traditional two lenses and change the medium of the lens from glass to liquid, but the principle remains the same. After all, liquid also has extremely strong The light transmittance. The difference is that glass medium cannot change its own radius of curvature, but liquid can.

For example, individual patented technology uses voltage to change the shape of the liquid crystal, such as uplifting, smoothing, or contraction, relaxation, etc., when the lens group does not move, it can increase/decrease the radius of curvature of the lens, and then change the optical path. Large focal length zoom, but also supports fast and continuous stepless zoom.

Liquid lens principle diagram

What are the advantages of liquid lenses? The emergence of liquid lenses has greatly reduced the volume occupied by the lenses in the traditional optical zoom process, especially on devices such as mobile phones where space is limited. With liquid lenses, the weight of camera components can be reduced to a certain extent. It even realizes one mirror with multiple functions, further reducing the thickness and weight of the mobile phone itself, making it easier to be thinner and lighter.

It is worth mentioning that because it does not take up too much space, the liquid lens may also change the problem of the protrusion of the camera module of the mobile phone, and realize the real integration. Without the sense of awkwardness, will the smart phone have a more beautiful design What about the plan?

Secondly, the liquid lens is essentially different from the mechanical lens, and the power consumption is much lower than the latter. It can be kept in focus without high voltage or other mechanical devices, and it can be driven with very little energy. In theory, it will also save more power, which indirectly contributes to improving the battery life of mobile phones. In addition, because there is no more complicated mechanical execution structure, it also means that the liquid lens structure does not have too many movable internal components, and the possibility of mechanical obstacles is lower, and the stability is better than the latter.

At the same time, the liquid lens can be like the human eye. There is no traditional mechanical structure in the focusing system, and there is no need for the lens group to move back and forth. Instead, the input voltage changes to adjust the shape of the droplet, which provides a millisecond-level focus. Possibly, and the filming rate is as high as 100%. It can be said that through the liquid lens, no matter how far away the object is from the camera, the imaging system can change the focus plane within milliseconds to provide a clearer image.

In addition, the liquid lens also has a large aperture feature, which can be automatically adjusted, and the focal length can be adjusted in a wide range, so it still has a very good shooting effect in dim and bright light. In addition to the above-mentioned advantages, the liquid lens will also bring a wider zoom range and focus, from macro to distant view, everything is in the lens.

Huawei liquid lens patent (Picture Source Network)

In short, the liquid lens has the advantages of lighter weight, accurate and fast focus, clear shooting quality, and wide zoom range. For smart phones, this is not only a brand new lens technology, but also an innovation of lens technology, subverting the tradition. The focusing principle of the lens.

In any case, the liquid lens is a new technology for mobile phones, and it is still unknown whether it can achieve rapid commercialization. But what can be deceived is that if the liquid lens becomes commercially available, it may mean that “one lens with multiple uses” is not far away. For users who have long been accustomed to the multi-monitor layout of mobile phones, this will be another thing. It is a matter of cognition.

Of course, it is naturally conservative at the moment. Although liquid lenses have a series of advantages, there are also problems that need to be solved such as dispersion and distortion. In this short period of time, it may be difficult to see the emergence of “one lens with multiple uses” products. .

Previously, there was indeed a Weibo big V broke the news that the liquid lens will be used at the telephoto end in the early stage, which undoubtedly proves once again that even if the liquid lens does appear, the two large-angle and ultra-wide-angle lenses of mobile phones are still indispensable.

And you don’t need to be disappointed. Although the development of liquid lenses is “only one stroke”, many people may have never heard of it before; whether it is “one lens with multiple functions” or only used at the telephoto end, one thing can be confirmed is that mobile phones The use of liquid lenses is not too far away. After all, liquid lenses have long been commercialized in high-end professional fields and products such as astronomical telescopes, medical endoscopes, and cameras. Even though they are not comparable between different fields, they still have references. To test the value, everyone just needs more patience.

The development of mobile camera technology by 2020 seems to have been in a bottleneck state. Under the premise that operations such as “plug outsole” and “super telephoto” are commonplace, more “fresh” technologies are indeed needed to stimulate the development of the industry.

There is no doubt that the liquid lens is suitable for this role. It has the advantages of extremely fast focusing speed, larger zoom range, and smaller space. It is already very compatible with mobile phones, and its future is still promising, and it can even lead the image. It is not impossible to change and become a new killer technology.

In short, I am still optimistic about liquid lenses. On the one hand, I hope that such a technology can once again enhance the image performance of mobile phones and improve user experience; on the other hand, as a mobile phone enthusiast, what else Is it more anticipated than having the honor to witness the industry change triggered by new technologies?

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