iPhone and Pixel killed this lens, but it needs to come back for the perfect phone camera setup

There was a camera that was supposed to revolutionize camera photography, until it was discontinued last year by Apple and earlier by Google as well.

Even before ultra-wide cameras became a staple of smartphone photography, Apple bet house on a new camera feature in 2016: Portrait mode! Attempts at portrait mode, which blurs the background leaving only your subject in focus, have been made before, but no company has done it to the scale and commitment of Apple.

It wasn’t just a side note: it was the major new camera feature of the iPhone 7 Plus and to make it all possible, Apple introduced a new lens: 2X zoom. It was just the natural gesture, no one in the world of photography would use a wide lens to take a portrait (at least not commonly). Back on the iPhone 7 Plus, a 2X lens was added to a 28mm primary lens, so the 2X worked at 56mm, pretty close.
Soon after, the iPhone X upgraded to a wider 26mm 1X lens, so the 2X lens also got wider to 52mm. Apple stuck with it until last year. And Google, along with a few others, has also joined in on the 2X zoom party.

A surprising achievement

Are you telling me that most of my favorite photos were taken with a camera that is no longer available in 2022?

And this is where I want to tell you about my little photographic journey. I try to carefully save my photos in albums on Google Photos to preserve those memorable moments, and as I went through my old photos, I kept noticing that the most memorable photos I’ve taken were of a special someone, friend or family member. . Interestingly, the majority of them had one thing in common: they were rarely captured with the main or ultra-wide cameras! Instead, many of my all-time favorite photos were captured using one lens in particular: 2X zoom!

Realizing this was a revelation for me! I took a closer look and looked through some scrapbooks from past trips, where I used phones that didn’t have 2X zoom and noticed, well… if it was a group of friends, the photos with the 1X main camera looked good, but for those single person photos… well, they looked pretty bad!

Can’t you just use the 1X lens and crop? And what about 3X?

You could, but you the problem with the distortion from the wide point of view is not going anywhere

A 1X camera is of course great for landscapes, but in single person shots it distorts the face and makes people look disproportionate and…just not their best. And who wants to share photos of themselves or loved ones that looked bad in the past!

As you probably know, most new iPhones and Galaxy phones come with a slightly longer 3X zoom. It’s not too far off a 2X lens for people shots, mainly because it doesn’t distort either. However, I find it a little too long.

A longer zoom range works great for pets, but if you’re shooting people, it requires you to step back a bit to even fit your subject into the frame! And forget equipping a bunch of people with a 3X objective! Plus, when you’re so far away from your subject, you almost have to shout at the person you’re shooting!

None of these issues are present with the 2X zoom lens, which equates to around 50mm in photographic terms. You may have heard the term “nifty fifty” lens used by photographers to affectionately refer to their 50mm lenses. There’s a reason the term exists and there’s a reason a 50mm lens is the staple of every camera system: it’s just super versatile! And some people also claim that a 50mm field of view is closest to how we people see the world.

Last words

Ultimately, this is my call for tech companies to bring back the 2X goal. It is an absolutely essential tool in the kit of a nomadic photographer, but it is not the only one. In the next post, I’ll tell you what I think would make the perfect smartphone camera kit, but in the meantime, let me know what you think of the 2X zoom lens? And if you have any old photos captured with it, browse through them and let me know if you find this 2X zoom to be like something you’ve captured great photos with too!

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