The No.1 frustration of using smartphone camera probably is the speed.
It is usually too slow: too slow to start, too slow to focus, too slow to shoot….
Samsung tries to tackle this issue with Galaxy S5 fast auto focus.
What is Galaxy S5 fast auto focus?
Galaxy S5 fast auto focus helps you capture important moments of movement more quickly and in focus.
Most 2013 flagship smartphones need 1-2 seconds for auto focus. As a comparison, most decent digital cameras only needs 0.1-0.3 seconds.
For a moving object, the Galaxy S5 fast auto focus is able to help you to capture the motion without blurred foreground or background. For stationary objects, of course, you can take picture quicker than others with slower auto focus.
So, Galaxy S5 fast auto focus is more on the speed: how fast you can take pictures while stay focused.
Don’t confuse fast auto focus with burst mode in almost all smartphones and digital cameras. In burst mode, most smartphones can take about 20 or even more pictures per second. This is achieved without re-focus.
How fast is Galaxy S5 fast auto focus?
Samsung claims the speed of Galaxy S5 fast auto focus is 0.3 seconds.
Don’t compare this with digital cameras. It is fast when comparing to other smartphones. As mentioned, most high-end smartphones need about 1-2 seconds for auto focus.
Here is a measured results of auto focus speed of typical smartphones. FYI: mems|cam™ is a fully integrated smartphone camera module (not sure who is using) from DigitalOptics Corporation.
What are the technologies behind Galaxy S5 fast auto focus?
Traditionally, smartphone use contrast detection autofocus. With this method, the contrast between nearby pixels is measured, and the camera’s lens is adjusted until this contrast is maximized.
In addition to its slowness, contrast detection autofocus does not involve actual distance measurement. This creates significant challenges when tracking moving subjects.
Samsung used hybrid method (contrast autofocus + phase detection autofocus) to achieve fast auto focus in Galaxy S5.
Phase detection autofocus now can be found in almost all DSLR cameras. In a nutshell, for phase detection autofocus, when perfect focus is achieved, the light from extreme sides of the lens converges to create a focused image. When not in focus, the images projected by two sides of the lens are out of phase with one another). Then the autofocus system instructs the lens to adjust its focus.
There are many excellent (and detailed) technical explanations on phase detection autofocus, for example, this one.
In short, Galaxy S5 fast auto focus is achieved through some quite matured technologies for DSLR cameras. But Samsung probably is the first one used this technology in a smartphone.
Will Galaxy S5 fast auto focus affect (or improve) photo quality?
As mentioned, Galaxy S5 fast auto focus is mainly on speed, although you very likely get better quality image for a moving object.
The image quality depends on many other factors, for example, size of the sensor and lighting conditions.
So, Galaxy S5 fast auto focus does not guarantee improved photo quality. But it very likely improves photo quality.
Is Galaxy S5 fast auto focus for me?
Galaxy S5 fast auto focus has no side effects, theoretically. It will improve your experience of using camera: faster to capture important moments.
Essentially, everyone can benefit from the faster autofocus. It will not be strange if you see more and more smartphones equip this feature in later 2014 or 2015.
Do you have any questions on Galaxy S5 fast auto focus? Please let us know in the comment box below.
To know more about Galaxy S5, please check our Samsung Galaxy S5 features explained page.