Oct 02 AT 2:42 PM Dustin Earley 26 Comments

Is the Nexus 5 using a shoot first, focus later Lytro-style camera?


New information on the 8-megapixel camera rumored to be used in the LG-manufactured Nexus 5 has hit the Internet today from the same people that dug through a Nexus 5 log file to give us other specs on the upcoming device. Thanks to Android World, we now know the sensor model used in the camera on the Nexus 5, but there seems to be some confusion surrounding what it actually means.

The sensor found in the camera is a Sony IMX179. It’s a non-BSI, f/2.4 CMOS sensor. It’s the same sensor found in the Meizu MX3, which is capable of producing some beautiful pictures. It’s also the same sensor found in Digital Optic’s MEMS smartphone camera module. As you may have guessed by now, one of these is rather boring, and one is not.

If the IMX179 in the Nexus 5 is being implemented like it is on the MX3, then there isn’t a whole lot to get excited over. It’s definitely not going to be better than most other flagship Android, Nokia or Apple smartphones on the market. In fact, it might even be worse. But it’s not going to be terrible by any means. If the IMX179 in the Nexus 5 is just a part of a MEMS camera assembly, then we’re in for a treat.

Digital Optics’s MEMS autofocus module for smartphones, known as “mems | cam,” is a unique take on the smartphone camera. MEMS, short for microelectromechanical system, cameras take a shoot first, focus later approach. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the popular Lytro camera does the same thing. MEMS cameras take a handful of pictures in incredibly rapid succession, all at different focal points, and combine them into one file. That file can then be used as an interactive photograph where you can pick where to focus. MEMS modules are also very fast at auto-focusing, nearly twice as fast as traditional smartphone cameras.

The mems | cam module set to go into mass production in Q4 uses a Sony IMX179 in its assembly, so it is entirely possible the Nexus 5 has a MEMS camera inside. With the unique look of the camera on the Nexus 5 and past remarks from Vic Gundotra on wanting Nexus phones to have “insanely great cameras,” people are betting on it. But don’t get your hopes up just yet. As mentioned above, the mems | cam is set to go into production in Q4, which would be a bit late for the Nexus 5. And the mems | cam is nearly twice as expensive as a normal smartphone camera module. That could have Google thinking twice about it.

Either way, it won’t be long now until we find out for sure. I would absolutely love to see a mems | cam stuffed inside the Nexus 5, but I’m not putting any money on it.

Source: AndroidWorld

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • Alexander drzfr3shboialex

    I just want an amazing camera on the nexus 5, is that too much to ask for? The nexus line of pphones have always had a bad camera.

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  • surethom

    WoW please have MEMS camera inside. Will this be the first Nexus phone that can actually take very good photos in lowlight & at night ??? I hope the answer is yes with this?

    Cant wait for the announcement, please have a 16bg & 32gb versions, 8gb is just too small without microsd card slot.

    • http://no stokis

      if it is not BSI sensor, than low light will not be great.

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  • Nima

    No, please no. Just Give me the G2 camera; please don’t try anything fancy…

    I remember the Galaxy Nexus’ “impressive” camera; “look how fast it takes photos. It’s instant”. They simply failed to mention they’d all look like crap.

    • Renato S.

      fastest way to take crap pics.

      is it that hard to ask for a Sony 8~13MP EXMOR RS f/2~2.4 combo? that would cure the crappyness.

    • tanman888

      The above does sound promising.
      We can only wait and see once it is released.

  • yurma415

    i’d rather have just a decent camera with the same price points.

    • inviolable

      That’s all the Nexus cameras have always been, decent or worse. You don’t want something better?

      • yurma415

        i would totally want a great or next gen type camera in the nexus. from what i’ve analyzing nexus 4, part of what kept the price point so low was sacrificing certain specs like the camera or battery capacity.

        • yurma415

          *read.. from what i’ve read analyzing… sorry.

  • donger

    Can’t wait til they announce the release date.

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  • MarkT

    Mems merged with photosphere and made into a social app would shit all over instagram.

    There’s your billion dollar idea, now throw me a hundred grand when its IPO’s pls…

  • psuedonymous

    A MEMS focusing actuator (Digital Optics’ module) and a lightfield camera (Lytro’s camera) are COMPLETELY unrelated. They operate in different ways, they use different optics, the only relation is that there is an image sensor in there somewhere.

    A lightfield camera take photos by using an array of micro-lenses to capture both the colour and the angle of incoming light for each ‘pixel’. This is then computationally reconstructed into an image, because the ‘raw’ image is almost incomprehensible to a person looking at it (it looks like a mosaic of tiny and very slightly different images). It captures the scene in a single exposure. Lytro’s camera specifically does not use any sort of MEMS technology, it is entirely solid-state.

    A MEMS actuator for a focus lens will allow that camera module to focus as fast as it can determine what distance it should be focussed to, but that’s it. You COULD use this new faster focusing speed to take a bunch of short exposures with increasing focal distances and use a technique called ‘focus stacking’ to combine them into a single sharp image (or just flip between them as in a ‘dynamic refocusing’ demo), but this is NOT a lightfield capture, and will result in artifacts if the camera is in motion or if any object in the scene is in motion, as well as requiring each individual exposure be short (poor quality) and probably of lower resolution (I’d guess 1920×1080 to take advantage of the existing optimisation for video in the ISP).

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      Why you dont let us be happy for a moment. Even if this is not true. : (

  • rashad360

    I’m quickly finding that a high-quality camera is becoming more and more important to me, even moreso than pixel density and removable battery!

  • aranea

    As much as I’d like to see a mems camera on nexus 5 I wouldn’t hold my breath for it. Given the camera on nexus phones so far it’s more likely that they wen’t with the cheaper option i.e average camera.

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  • Edmond

    Google. Lets say the nexus 5 consts 300$. A normal camera on it cost at max 50$. We all agree if you put an 100$ camera on this mobile. I would still buy the nexus for 50$ more. 300 – 350 its not a big change for a top line camera.

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