A couple of weeks ago, we saw the first announcement of a mobile device with triple-camera in the shape of the Huawei P20 Pro. Gil Abraham, Director Product Management at Corephotonics—an Israeli company that specializes in the development of smartphone camera solutions—has taken the opportunity to author a white paper titled "Triple cameras: Are three better than two?"

The document looks at the evolution of dual-camera systems from the HTC One M8 to current models, such as the iPhone X, and then jumps straight into the challenges and rewards of camera systems that feature a third camera.

Abraham says the main challenges for the design and development of triple-camera solutions are cost, space and calibration, as well as firmware, algorithms and power. Three cameras inevitably need more space than two in the already very close quarters inside a thin smartphone and, depending on configuration, a third sensor and lens can add between $10 and $30 to the device's bill of materials.

Very careful calibration of the entire setup is also needed in order to avoid any artifacts during image fusion—firmware and algorithms have to be tuned to control three physical cameras that should work as one. Power consumption can also be greatly affected if not all hard and software components work together efficiently.

In the final part of the white paper three triple-camera configurations are presented in detail, and their pros and cons explained. There is a zoom camera for low-light conditions and a fish-eye zoom that offers focal lengths from fish-eye to tele. It's the third variant, however, that we really hope to see on a production device very soon.

The "Super zoom with excellent low-light" offers a 5x optical and 25x overall zoom combined with good low light image quality using Corephotonics' folded optics with OIS that we have already seen in an Oppo prototype device.

Overall, Abraham's white paper is an interesting and educational read for those of us wondering where smartphone camera technology is headed. To dive into the details, read the complete white paper on the Corephotonics website.