Can the smartphone camera leverage the capabilities of the rapidly developing, open source and hugely capable Android operating system to displace traditional firmware? Will this finally integrate camera and computational platform? One manufacturer thinks it might have the answer.
We've seen it before with the Samsung Galaxy Camera NX, a device that eschews traditional manufacturer firmware and opts instead for a smartphone operating system to run the camera. This is something I've called for recently, not because of the communications or games playing capabilities of a smartphone, but rather because they make excellent platforms for computational photography. This will enable photographers to realize photographic creations that would be difficult or impossible to create otherwise and Google is at the bleeding edge of this revolution with its Pixel 3 phone.
Against this backdrop, it's exciting to see another manufacturer revisit the Android camera, this time in the form of the Yongnuo YN450. Currently, just beyond the vaporware stage (there is a least a product shot, assuming it's a physical reality), Yongnuo have a competition on their Facebook page to name the new camera. This closes in January so it's possible that the camera would be announced at CES 2019. Photorumors outline the currently advertised specs which include Android 7.1, 5" 1080p screen, 3G 8MP front selfie camera, and support for Canon EF lenses amongst others. Using the EF mount allows support for a wide number of lenses making it immediately usable, but there is no mention of the sensor inside which will be a key consideration for many.
Are Android cameras the future? Would you buy one and, if so, how much would you pay? $500, $1000, or $2000? Of course, the big question is how long will it be before someone makes a call with their Android camera, holding it up to their ear!