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Qualcomm reveals Clear Sight dual-camera system – what you need to know

US chipmaker Qualcomm is best known for its market-leading range of Snapdragon processors, but it is also quite handy when it comes to imaging tech.

Last week saw the launch of the dual-camera LG V20, with the Steady Record 2.0 feature underpinned by Qualcomm’s electronic image stabilising tech.

Now, a week on, the company has announced its very own dual-camera module, designed to be used with phones packing the high-end Snapdragon 820 and Snapdragon 821 processors.

However, the Clear Sight system behaves differently to many of the dual-camera modules to have hit the market thus far.

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While the iPhone 7 Plus enables a 2 x optical zoom, wide-angled photos and portrait-friendly telephoto images, Clear Sight features similar sensors that work together to enhance a single image.

The module features two identical sensors, except for one important distinction: One sensor is in full color, the other has had the color filter removed and is black and white. As a result the second sensor will capture 3x more light.

Both photos are taken at the same time and are blended instantly by the using the Qualcomm Spectra ISP (Image Signal Processor)

The idea is that the combination of these two images offers better low-light performance and improved contrast.

Qualcomm explains: “Without the color filter, these black and white photos have much better contrast, and in low light have less noise and improved sharpness. When color information from the other photo is merged, you can get a fantastic image. This is Clear Sight.”

“Clear Sight consists of a single, fully integrated hardware module that contains two cameras, plus computational low light imaging algorithms that enable Qualcomm Spectra ISPs, designed to take photos at the exact same time and merge the two photos together, instantaneously, with outstanding image quality even in low lighting.”

Qualcomm is yet to reveal when the first Clear Sight phones will become available, but it’s something we’d expect to see when the next major mobile launch window – MWC 2017 – rolls around in February.

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