What is a periscope lens and how does it work?

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What is a periscope lens and how does it work?

More and more smartphones have a periscope lens to zoom in instead of a ‘regular’ telephoto camera. But what’s the difference? And how does such a lens work? We’ll explain it to you!

You should know this about the periscope lens on your smartphone

About six or seven years ago, most smartphones only had one camera on the back. Now there are a lot more. Think of the wide-angle lens for wider images, a depth sensor for better portraits, and a macro lens that allows you to take close-ups of flowers, insects, or plants. And then there is the telephoto camera, intended for zooming in.

Nowadays, that telephoto camera is sometimes actually a periscope lens. It’s like this: the further you want to zoom in with a lens, the larger it becomes. And the space in a thin smartphone is of course limited. If you want to bring the image closer more than 3 times, there is actually no room for it. Still, many people find such a telephoto lens useful. If you can zoom in 10 times, it’s easier to photograph animals in the zoo, for example.

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What is a periscope lens and how does it work?

A periscope lens solves this problem. The name was chosen for a reason: the principle can be compared to a periscope in a submarine. Instead of the light hitting the sensor directly, it strikes a mirror which then reflects the image back onto the sensor. It is hidden horizontally in the housing, so that the smartphone can still remain quite thin. So the lens is actually chopped into two parts.

This way you can zoom in much further. The Google Pixel 7 Pro, for example, brings the image 5 times closer without loss of quality. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the few smartphones with two telephoto cameras: a normal one that allows you to zoom in 3 times and a periscope lens that allows you to achieve 10 times optical zoom. This way you have a huge reach.

mr.kodi

mr.kodi

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Mr Kodi is a tech writer covering IT-related subjects since 2014. A digital named who depends on the internet to make a living, he’s always seeking out the best value and highest quality products and services on the web.

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