Tencent "periscope" Author: Pu Xiang
The crater on the surface of the moon is the latest reference for OPPO and Huawei's two Chinese mobile phone companies.
After a two-day conference, OPPO Reno and Huawei P30 Pro finally stood together in the spotlight. 10x zoom is now the most watched topic in the mobile phone industry.
Smartphone innovation is increasingly relying on Chinese companies. From screen fingerprints, folding screens, to 10x zoom, if you reverse the development time, these projects start to run, often between 2016 and 2017. At that time, the focus of smartphone competition was full-screen and artificial intelligence chips, and the “periscope lens” with multiple zoom camera functions was in the company's internal stage. The periscope structure is different from the parallel arrangement of the traditional double-lens lens. The camera that is vertically perpendicular to the front and rear fuselage is vertically discharged in the mobile phone, and the special optical prism is used to refract light into the lens group to realize imaging. . This structure inevitably increases the focal length of the camera while inevitably making the camera module as a whole L-shaped.
From February 2016 to 2017 MWC, OPPO imaging engineer Wu Lizhong and colleagues took the lead in realizing the 5x optical zoom technology of the dual camera solution in the industry, making 2000 prototypes for testing and MWC demonstration. However, because this is an innovative technology that Samsung and Apple have not adopted, the industry chain is not mature enough, resulting in high costs of more than 400 yuan. In addition, it is a challenge for consumers to accept. In the end, OPPO did not have this technology at the time.
OPPO hesitated for half a year when landing on zoom technology. During the past six months, Huawei's R&D has quickly caught up, quite a bit of “half-way”.
The final result appeared in early 2019. On January 16, 2019, OPPO held a technical communication meeting in Beijing called “Ten for”, and presented an upgraded version of the 5x lossless zoom technology released in 2017 MWC—— 10x hybrid optical zoom technology.
Huawei is also grabbing time. “Huawei generally says that if you don’t do it well, you won’t talk about it.” & rdquo; Huawei public relations responded to Tencent "Plough". On March 26th in France, Huawei released the P30 Pro with 10x hybrid zoom function, with 10x hybrid zoom function, while highlighting 50x digital zoom and night shot, it is "telescope" + night; The camera can clearly capture the moon.
Subsequently, the Reno 10x zoom version and the P30 Pro models were unveiled in China on April 10th and April 11th.
Behind the zoom shot is the fierce competition between the two companies in the technology field.
& ldquo; leapfrog & rdquo; development of the potential zoom technology
The earliest launch of the technology was OPPO, and OPPO had a process from 3x, 5x to 10x before doing 10x hybrid optical zoom. Among them, 5 times of technology has not been commercialized into mobile phones. It is an important node in this process. The OPPO optical zoom development process is divided into two. Before OPPO's main rival was itself, Huawei joined the competition.
“In February and March of 2016, we developed a 5x zoom technology for the project and established a military order. & rdquo; Wu Lizhong told Tencent "Peeping" in Shenzhen.
Achieving the high-magnification zoom function of a SLR camera on a smartphone is an unprecedented challenge. Wu Lizhong and the team members have done a lot of research on this.
At that time, OPPO Da Vinci laboratory head Lu Zhiwei also worked with Wu Lizhong in the supply chain company for a long time, and finally learned the Israeli company Corephotonics (hereinafter referred to as CP) in the solution of the telephoto lens proposed periscope The idea of structure.
The general process of early smart phone innovation is divided into three segments: In the first paragraph, companies in the professional fields in Europe and the United States produce advanced technologies and design concepts. In the second paragraph, large companies in the United States select technologies, then acquire, research and develop, run on products, and land on small scales. In the third paragraph, large companies put their products in Asia for OEM and large-scale industrialization.
However, the fierce competition in the mobile phone industry has forced Chinese mobile phone manufacturers to continue to seek innovation in the upper reaches. At that time, Wu Lizhong and the team members discussed, "I want to cut off the Americans. We go directly to find ideas and feel that it is feasible to come by ourselves." In early 2016, at the 5x zoom pre-research stage, OPPO and the Israeli company CP established a joint development team.
However, Lu Zhiwei and Wu Lizhong soon discovered that the periscope is difficult, and it is necessary to rethink the lens, the motor, the module, and modify the angle of the CR of the Sensor. In many fields, it is necessary to break through the previous industry perception. These can't be solved by OPPO alone. It needs to mobilize internal and external resources of the company and integrate the upstream supply chain together.
At this time, Liu Jun, who promoted many OPPO research and development projects, joined in. Liu Jun has been responsible for many of OPPO's technical research projects, from the world's thinnest Finder phone to the narrowest border of the R9 phone.
In 2016, OPPO brought together seven suppliers including CP, Prism Sunshine, Motor Company Magnetization, Sunny Optical, Sony, and drive company Ansonmei to open a three-day closed meeting in Shunyi to discuss 5x lossless zoom. . The design of the periscope is complicated, and it is different from the traditional prism, focusing system, camera requirements, etc. The requirements for the material, size, anti-shake and precision of the glass prism are higher, and the existing products and solutions cannot be satisfied. Wu Lizhong told Tencent that "Peeping": "In fact, the solution proposed by CP was very rudimentary at that time. The whole height, the entire size and size did not meet our requirements, so we went looking for a more reasonable way. ”
For example, in terms of stability and reliability, Wu Lizhong believes that in the telephoto lens anti-shake mode, it is best to discard the anti-shake mechanism of the reed + suspension suspension structure design, and use the ball method. The technical details began to be formed step by step.
After the 5x lossless zoom technology deduction and R&D direction were set, it was time to take out the real money. Liu Jun led Wu Lizhong and others to meet with Haoyu Optoelectronics. Haoyu Optoelectronics attaches great importance to this matter, led by general manager Wang Zhongwei, and the project manager is Yang Lan. “ Liu Jun mobilized a lot of resources. & rdquo; Wu Lizhong said.
In the face of risks, all suppliers have shown sincerity. As a module manufacturer, Haoyu has to invest money to invest in equipment. Tencent's "Peeping Hope" learned that, for this reason, Haoyu's value of materials invested amounted to three or five million yuan. Xinyang's prism manufacturers did not talk about any conditions, spent tens of millions to buy equipment, and directly opened a production line. The motor manufacturer magnetized the new production line after receiving the money invested by OPPO. At that time, several of the consensus: "It is a trend, willing to invest money. ”
Huawei suddenly cut into OPPO to replace suppliers
From March to December 2016, all parties are in close contact with each other. The Changan Industrial Park, where OPPO is located, is the center of the week. It is basically a meeting every week to bring together the progress of each program and coordinate with each other. The intermediate process is roughly six months to set the plan, and three times to produce the sample.
At the end of 2016, 2,000 prototypes with a 5x zoom were released. At the beginning of 2017, part of it was exhibited at MWC. According to the manager of Haoyu Optoelectronics Liufang, which was contacted by Tencent's "Peeping Hope", the personnel involved in R&D and R&D of 5x zoom have to sign an internal confidentiality agreement, which many people inside the company do not know. “But in time, OPPO is ahead of Huawei in hardware development. ”
However, soon Huawei and Haoyu started cooperation, and also followed the zoom technology, even in order to seize the opportunity, directly cut into a higher multiple zoom. Huawei, which has always been unsatisfied with technology investment, is also establishing patent barriers while doing it. In this way, on the basis of previous programs, it quickly seizes the advantages of the program. Yuyu Liufang revealed that Huawei is a large customer of Haoyu, and half of its shipments are supplied to Huawei. Before the zoom module, Huawei's P20 series three-camera solution, which was co-operated with Haoyu, was a great success in the market.
So Wu Lizhong team cut into the 10x zoom and then switched the module manufacturer to choose Samsung Motor. “We have to do more than one, and the hardware selection is better. & rdquo; Wu Lizhong told Tencent "Peeping". But more rigorous hardware also means more rigorous selection and tuning, but the product is ready to go.
“ Jitter made me die to live. On March 21st, I went to the MWC2019 Bar Show, and the day before I got the version. "The same version of the video team's Li Longjia said that this version mainly solves the jump problem: a camera and another camera can only solve the jump by algorithm alignment.
Jumping is a problem that must be faced when doing such a camera structure. For specific applications, the 10x zoom module has three cameras with three sensors and a motor. When the user operates the zoom, the background controls the lens switching, and a jump occurs during the switching. How to smoothly lock an image without shaking during zooming in and out is a challenge. Master and wide angle, main and telephoto, and smoothing algorithm adjustment between the two. If you consider the color and brightness jumps that occur when the field of view jumps, the difficulty will increase greatly.
OPPO imaging engineer Hao Zhensheng explained: “OPPO's approach is that the two cameras will wake up in advance when they are pulled up at the same time. According to the brightness of the front display and the color displayed on the front end, it will be mapped to the camera to be displayed to make some insinuation in advance. ”
“ Equivalent to pre-call a camera & lsquo; accompany run & rsquo;, jump to solve. For this reason, OPPO engineers An Jie and Hao Zhensheng are in Shanghai, with a team of 20 or 30 people and a team of Qualcomm more than a dozen people, plus the rainbow soft algorithm, working together for more than two months, after the basic problem solving is still optimization.
More than just the lens
In the process of continuous improvement and optimization of the selection plan, the periscope structure still has two major problems, which all teams must solve.
First, how to optimize the quality control and stability of the selection;
Second, how to stack the modules into the phone in a better way.
The first problem is that no matter the mobile phone manufacturers OPPO, Huawei, or module manufacturers Haoyu, Samsung Motor and Oufei Technology, in the face of the periscope camera, we must solve a core difficulty: the new glass material steering prism control And reliability challenges, as well as back lens size and number bottlenecks, algorithm optimization, and more. A new technology that cannot be used in portable phones if it is not resistant to falls.
Especially for OPPO, quality control is really a high-voltage line. After Wu Lizhong first got this reed control solution, he got the motor from the new thinking and Taiwan TTK, with a thickness of 6.5 mm. But Wu Lizhong must challenge 5.7 mm, & ldquo; the first time to get rid of it. ”
After working at OPPO for many years, Wu Lizhong has a typical technical male image, speaks straight, and does not care much about wearing and hairstyle. However, he knows that OPPO is a mobile phone company that has a deep attachment to its appearance.
This stems from past positive and negative experiences. When it first became a smartphone, OPPO introduced a mobile phone with a thickness of 15.6 mm, and when it made a mobile Finder as thin as 6.65 mm, it established its position in the smart machine market and was well received. Later, in 2016, the R9 series, which sold 30 million units, was still one of the success factors.
There is a saying in the field of imagery that is “the bottom level of the dead person”, “the bottom” refers to the image sensor in the phone lens. The photo is taken by the mobile phone. The amount of light collected depends on the size of the aperture. How much light information is received depends on the size of the image sensor. However, the larger the bottom lens module, the greater the overall thickness. In recent years, sensors have grown larger, 1/3 inch, to 1/2.8, 1/2.6, 1/2. A larger base and a thicker lens module are inserted into the phone, creating a huge conceptual and technical challenge for the OPPO.
But back to the periscope structure, the pursuit of ultra-thin, at that time forced Wu Lizhong to find a new solution, and finally made a ball control program, quite a bit of good fortune.
In the past, most of the mobile phone lenses were plastic lenses. The new 1-2 glass materials were turned into prisms in the periscope lens, and in the telephoto shooting environment, a little bit of jitter would bring disaster to stable imaging. The most basic solution is to find the right prism, the metal is continuously placed on the prism, and then compensated by the peripheral magnetic field drive control and reverse motion. The traditional solution to this problem is the reed + suspension suspension anti-shake structure design.
The reed is used to control the movement of the prism. The four small columns and the suspension wire are connected to each other, which brings three problems. First, the resonant control has insufficient resonance point, only one single-axis Y-axis; second, reliability Not good; third, the prism motion trajectory is not linear enough.
After exploring and demonstrating, OPPO chose a ball control solution. Compared with the reed scheme, the ball scheme has two shafts for operation, which can realize two degrees of rotation, and is easier to realize. The roller itself can withstand more forces when subjected to compression and collision, and the reliability is passed. durable.
Wu Lizhong gave a data, reed + suspension wire OIS drop resistance test, fell to 8000 to 10000 times, the support will appear micro-crack. The ball type can withstand 40,000 times. For this reason, OPPO has specially found a Korean company to do design and production.
These creative ideas of Wu Lizhong and his colleagues later became patents for OPPO applications, leaving a mark on the periscope structure to distinguish it from the reed scheme adopted by the industry.
In addition, in order to reduce the thickness of the lens module, OPPO also uses the D-cut process to effectively decompress the lens thickness. “We also want to do it in a dry, ultra-thin, multi-fold, and hope it will be the limit. Thin, the appearance should look good, and the quality control should be in place. In fact, it is an embodiment of extremeism. & rdquo; Wu Lizhong told Tencent "Peeping".
Of course, Huawei is a technology-savvy company and later has its own set of methods. He Gang, president of Huawei's terminal industry line, said during the P30 release that the maturity of products such as image performance has met Huawei's requirements and passed a strict drop test. ”
10 times after the competition begins
After the appearance of the obsessive action, and then cooperate with Samsung Electric, from April 2018, 8 months, OPPO 10 times mixed zoom project & ldquo; & rdquo; Li Longjia told Tencent "Peeping".
He and his colleagues optimized on a 5x optical zoom, the prism anti-shake changed from one axis to two axes, and the autofocus direction was horizontal in the periscope structure. In order to prevent the prism from collapsing, this design adds protection to both sides of the prism and performs texturing. And through technical means to solve the glare brought by the periscope structure.
Finally the camera module is controlled to 6.76 mm thick. In addition, the “peep-and-go structure” saves 55% of the space compared to the traditional method. Together with the unique “Total Motor” design, the super-clear main and telephoto camera's focus motors are combined to save 13% space. The extra space can be put into a larger size sensor.
This OPPO Reno 10x zoom version features a 48 megapixel master with a 1/2-inch Sony IMX586 sensor. The telephoto end Reno 10x zoom version has selected a higher pixel 13 million camera, OPPO is ready this time.
On March 23, OPPO announced 10 times hybrid optical zoom technology in Barcelona, where “10 times” refers to 10x zoom from wide angle to telephoto equivalent focal length of 16mm-160mm. The reason is so limited, Li Longjia told Tencent "Peeping": "Because of this focal length range, it can really achieve imaging of 8 million pixels and above, and it has no effect on the user's photo experience. More multiple zooms can be done according to the current hardware selection.
This algorithm was immediately questioned by Huawei's terminal CEO Yu Chengdong in the WeChat circle of friends: “This is not a 10x zoom, it is not done at all!” It should not be counted from the wide-angle focal length. It should be counted from the normal 28/27 mm focal length. & rdquo; This can be felt full of gunpowder.
However, looking through Huawei's official website, the P30 series also uses the expression of 10x hybrid zoom, and does not limit the information such as pixels. Wu Lizhong further explained: “5 times, 10 times is a very subtle statement, 5 times, 8 times, or 10 times, compared to the lens module, see what range the entire module covers. Previously, it was a dual camera solution, 5 times the main camera, and today the 10x solution is a three-camera, and the reference object is a wide angle. ”
“The OPPO algorithm is closer to the expression of professional photographers,” said Liu Dong, editor-in-chief of “Friends of Photography”. “Professional SLR photography is an emphasis on the range of focal lengths. ”
The dispute of opinion is to gain the marketing advantage and whether it can seize the market. It still needs to look at the comprehensive competition strategy of the product. After the two products were announced, OPPO intercepted the P30 Pro at a price of 3,999 yuan. When the brand of Huawei was in full swing, the offline experience store was still hot.
In 2019, Huawei and OPPO finally met each other on the 10x zoom function. It is not known who can win. In the longer dimension, in the future, Huawei's culture and genes that advocate grayscale advancement and wolf-like advancement are more adaptable to the environment, or the OPPO culture that is upholding the basics and the human being is more tenacious, all this. Both will be given an answer on the product and service competition.
Take a photo showdown, 10x zoom is just a node.