How does zooming work on a smartphone with multiple cameras?

Started 2 months ago | Questions thread
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Steerpike Regular Member • Posts: 113
How does zooming work on a smartphone with multiple cameras?

On my Samsung S23+, there are 3 discreet lenses, labeled as 0.6x, 1x and 3x (elsewhere they give the equivalent focal lengths).

Normally, I select which lens I want to use out of the 3 and take my picture. But - if I first select 1x, and 'zoom in' (pinch/grab on the image to 'frame' it), I can arbitrarily cause the 'multiplier' to go to 1.5, 1.6, 2.1, 2.8, etc. I presume when I do that, I'm still using the '1x' lens, but digitally "zooming" (cropping) the image from the sensor. But - if i keep 'zooming' past 3x (the power of the next discreet lens), is it smart enough to switch automatically to the '3x' lens, and thus do less digital zooming? So for example, if I started at 1x, and stopped zooming at 4x, would that be a picture taken using the 3x lens with a minor digital zoom to get to 4x? Or would it stick with the lens first chosen (1x) and do a heavy digital zoom with that lens to go to 4x?

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