Smartphone cameras have come a long way and could very well replace point-and-shoot handheld cameras in the coming years. But right now the amount of control a photographer has with a smartphone camera is pitiful. All that could change as a patent awarded to Nokia hints at adjustable aperture settings for smartphone cameras.

The Nokia Lumia 920 is already one of the best low-light shooters in the market and has a large f/2.0 aperture, while the Nokia 808 PureView, which has one of the best cameras to ever grace a phone, has an f/2.4 aperture and hence can capture great pictures even in poorly lit conditions.

However, with an adjustable aperture, a smartphone camera will be able to take great pictures in a wider range of environments and lighting conditions. A camera that can opt for a low aperture in well-lit environments and a larger aperture for poorly lit surroundings sounds too good to be true. An adjustable aperture will even let you change the depth of field when shooting.

How the adjustable aperture will work (Image credit: NokiaPowerUser)

How the adjustable aperture will work (Image credit: NokiaPowerUser)

According to NokiaPowerUser, the technology involves using an electrical circuit to apply voltage to electrodes. The current will squeeze the electroactive centre unit, which in turn adjusts the aperture. Nokia has said in its application that it intends to use the patent to make the prior art of the technology less complex to manufacture and manage.

Nokia’s patent application talks about creating better depth of field using a smartphone camera. “Small aperture with high f- number increases the sharpness of distant objects, or in other words increases depth-of-field, which means more elements of a picture, from foreground to background, become sharply focused. This can create a distinct sense of depth to a photograph, drawing the viewer into the picture. It is well-known that small apertures are used especially for most landscape photographs.

In contrast, a large aperture, like the one on the Nokia Lumia 920, produces a shallow depth-of-field. Larger apertures isolate the subject and keep the background and other distracting elements out of focus. Nokia hopes this will improve performance in areas where a smartphone camera is not the best option. “Some useful applications of large apertures include portraits and wildlife close-ups,” the company said.

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