LG Innotek's new optical telephoto zoom camera module
Image courtesy: LG Innotek

LG Innotek has released details of a new optical telephoto zoom camera module designed for smartphones. The new product will be formally unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023 in January.

Optical zoom vs. digital zoom

Most smartphones have fixed focal length lenses and use digital zooms to move between those focal lengths. A digital zoom basically enlarges part of the image. However, this can reduce the quality of the image. The new camera module from LG Innotek is a true optical zoom, similar to the ones you use with a DSLR or mirrorless camera. This means that there isn’t any loss of resolution of the image when zooming.

Zoom range

The new camera module can zoom from 4x to 9x by moving its optical elements. You can film at all points within the zoom range as well. The camera module also has a zoom actuator which can move the lens quickly and accurately to set the focus. LG Innotek says that the control mechanism moves the lens precisely in micrometer unit. In addition, the zoom actuator has been designed to reduce battery consumption.

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Optical image stabilizer

The new camera module incorporates an optical image stabilizer to reduce the effects of camera shake when filming handheld. An optical stabilizer is better than digital stabilization as, again, it doesn’t cause any degradation of the image. In addition, image stabilization is an important feature when working with a longer zoom lens where any camera shake is more noticeable.

Compact design

The new camera module has been designed to be very thin to remove the camera bump that some smartphones have. To achieve this, LG Innotek has used a folded-optic design. This is also known as a periscope lens.

Other features

LG Innotek is working closely with Qualcomm Technologies to optimize the software for the new optical zoom camera module. It is designed for the new premium Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform. In addition, the software features autofocus, auto-exposure, auto white balance and lens shading correction, all of which are custom designed for the new lens.

What we think

Smartphones are getting more and more features designed for filmmakers. However, only Sony cameras have incorporated a true optical zoom lens so far. That lens also has a shorter zoom range than the new camera module from LG Innotek. A smartphone camera with a 9x zoom lens and optical image stabilization is a very exciting prospect. Hopefully, smartphone manufacturers will be quick to incorporate LG Innotek’s new camera module in their future devices.

Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.