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Picture this: Why dual cameras are better than one

LiveMint logoLiveMint 28-02-2017 Nimish Dubey

The dual-camera set-up on phones has, of late, become a key feature rather than an attention-grabbing gimmick. And that is because these twin cameras often end up producing images that are significantly better than those taken with regular, single cameras, and, in many cases, also give the user more shooting options, with improved software helping utilize the capabilities of the dual hardware. Of course, not all dual camera set-ups work as well. So if you are in the market for a phone that takes good photographs and has two cameras, these options would be worth considering.

Apple iPhone 7 plus

Rs72,000 onwards

Trust Apple to put a different spin on dual cameras. While others focused on changing aperture levels and providing better depth of field, Apple decided to use two cameras to address one of the pain points of camera photography—optical zoom. Of the two 12-megapixel cameras on the back of the phone, one can zoom up to 2x, allowing you to get closer to the subject without moving. The Portrait mode automatically blurs out the background of a subject and advises you about the perfect place to take a portrait snap. Image quality is excellent and even low-light performance is outstanding. The interface might strike some as being a little too simple, but then that is what photography on the iPhone has been about. The excellent Full HD display, speedy A10 processor and iOS complete the slick user experience. Costly? Yes, but perhaps the closest any phone comes to a point-and-shoot camera right now.

The flagship from LG also features a potent pair of dual cameras.

LG V20

Rs54,999

The flagship from LG may be best known for its brilliant quad HD display, excellent hardware (Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage) and audio supremacy, but it also features a potent pair of dual cameras. One of these is a 16-megapixel standard-angle lens camera while the other is an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, offering users a wider perspective to take those stunning landscape shots. The main camera also comes with features such as laser focus, phase detection and focus tracking that allow you to keep the subject in focus even when it is moving. The performance might be a little inconsistent from time to time, but you can change settings using manual controls and, with patience, get some excellent photographs.

Honor 8 has two 12-megapixel cameras on the back.

Honor 8

Rs29,999

The Huawei P9 had brought dual cameras back into the spotlight in mid-2016 with its Leica-assisted dual-camera set-up. The Honor 8 repeats the formula at a lower price tag, albeit minus the Leica association. Like the P9, the Honor 8 has two 12-megapixel cameras on the back and, once again, like its predecessor, one is colour and the other monochrome—the final result is a combination of the two and results in significantly sharper low-light shots as well as some stunning black and white images. A wide aperture mode allows you to get those depth-of-field shots (in which backgrounds are blurred); there is a full manual control mode too. And, of course, all this comes with decent hardware (a 5.2-inch Full HD display, an octa-core Kirin processor, 4 GB RAM, 32 GB storage) in a beautiful frame in which the cameras do not even jut out.

Vivo V5Plus

Rs27,980

This phone focuses on making your selfies better than ever before. And unlike other phones that have been experimenting with dual-camera hardware for the primary camera on the back of the phone, the V5Plus focuses on the front. There is a 20-megapixel and an 8-megapixel camera combination for selfies that allows much richer images in terms of detailing and depth, and better low-light performance. In terms of the other specifications, the V5Plus is no slouch either. It runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, 4 GB RAM, has 64 GB internal storage and a 16-megapixel rear camera. The 3,055 mAh battery can be charged quickly, thanks to its fast-charging feature. 

The Cool 1 comes with two 13-megapixel cameras on the back.

Coolpad Cool 1

Rs13,999

Perhaps the first dual camera set-up in a relatively affordable device, the Cool 1 comes with two 13-megapixel cameras on the back. One of them captures colour while the other captures images in black and white: Coolpad claims the software on the phone then blends them to give you the perfect shot. And it does seem to work very well indeed in bright-light conditions, although we could see performance tapering off in the darkness, notwithstanding the dual-temperature flash, which is expected to light up darkness better than single LED flashes. The phone also packs in a 5.5-inch Full HD display and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor, backed up by 4 GB RAM and a massive 4,060 mAh battery. 

*Prices may vary.

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