How a can of Coca-Cola can improve the photo quality of our smartphones

Vivo called German optical manufacturer Zeiss for its X80 Pro. We explain to you in concrete terms what has been accomplished in this partnership and what their approach is.

The Vivo X80 Pro in front of a color test chart. // Source: Fandroid – Chloé Pertuis

marketing madness or really good news for your shots? The collaboration between Zeiss and Vivo, like Oppo’s Hasselblad and Xiaomi’s OnePlus or Leica, raises a lot of questions.

During a meeting with Zeiss engineers, we better understood what the Chinese smartphone brand has gained from this partnership. Because neither the lenses nor the optics are made by the German image specialist. No, its role is elsewhere. This is to provide expertise in three areas (among others): color quality, definition and anti-reflective coatings. We offer here a little overview of the three.

Keep in mind that everything shown to us here is not a trade secret and so there is reason to think that this is just the tip of the iceberg. However, these elements help to better understand the way optical specialists work with smartphones.

A can of Coca-Cola and a Milka tablet to test the colors

The first tool used by Zeiss engineers we want to show you is a simple box that allows certain colors to change faithfully and whose brightness can be different. Here, for example, Zeiss shows us a box that allows us to experiment with 18 colors. The interest is to see how many colors vary when the light heats up for example. Green, for example, has little difference. This is the basis on which engineers are able to work.

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A box to monitor the difference in colors depending on the light. // Source: Fandroid – Chloé Pertuis

“What we’re trying to copy isn’t a physical measurement of color, it’s a combination of light and how the eye receives color”explained David Abreu, Zeiss engineer, during a meeting with the press. Frandroid participated in it.

Then comes the second test, in color still, a very important topic. It starts in a unique way with a painting with specifically a can of Coca-Cola, a piece of grass or even a bar of Milka chocolate. If this sounds a bit ridiculous, it’s actually very serious.

There are so -called memory colorsaccording to the Zeiss engineer. These are the colors we know users have expectations. They will also jump on you right away. »

We think here, for example, the green of the grass, the purple of the chocolate bar or the characteristic red of the can. Aside from the anecdote, these are the colors that anchor everyone’s memory. Moreover, the engineer was transformed at one time into a philosopher when he explained to us: “People will remember these colors very well, but not necessarily in the same way as what you see in the scene. There can also be differences between regions of the world. It’s something we do. measured. » That’s why Vivo decided to leave the choice between natural colors (called Zeiss colors) or those that are more attractive, but sought after by most.

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The Vivo X80 Pro on the test bench. // Source: Fandroid – Chloé Pertuis

Other objects in this painting address another problem. We have, for example, a sheet of aluminum foil that makes it possible to “ try very local light sources with high intensity“, adds details David Abreu. We can also identify a brush, which makes it possible to measure the fine imitation of details.

How to test the meaning

Zeiss engineers also showed us how they test the meaning of an image. The goal is simple: to avoid deformations as much as possible. The test is based at this time on a set of circles with black and white stripes. The goal is that the closer we are to the center of the circle, the more complex the definition of recognition.

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Here is a tool used to determine if the device definition is good. // Source: Fandroid – Chloé Pertuis

Another interest of this test is that it allows to identify if there is an asymmetry or problems in the image edges. In fact, it is not difficult to notice an anomaly in perfect lines.

Anti-reflective coating to play with light

If you take a closer look at the back of the latest Vivo X80 Pro, you may notice a strange red “T*” symbol.

Vivo X80 Pro Zeiss
Vivo X80 Pro benefits from Zeiss photography expertise // Source: Anthony Wonner – Fandroid

The presence of this T * is intended to inform the consumer that the lenses of this device are covered with a special coating. Coating consists of applying a very thin layer (less than one m) of a specific texture to a lens.

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The difference between anti-reflective and non-reflective coating is obvious. // Source: Fandroid – Chloé Pertuis

Its purpose is to reduce the reflections produced by the lenses. It sounds simple, but it’s a big problem. “In any lens, there is about 95% of the light that passes through. You can say ‘it’s not bad’, but the problem is when you start putting a lot in a row. » We could for example have a lens in the middle of everything else that shows 5% of its light to the one before, going back to the one after, and so on.

It’s also how we get oneflare in the lensthis famous effect is very expensive by JJ Abrams, director ofStar Warsepisode 7. If it’s trained, it may have some aesthetics to it, but overall it’s a flaw in an image that Zeiss promises to correct by putting a coating on the lenses.

Radiation reduction has other properties. Consider an example of a sufficient increase in contrast, since the amount of scattered light in the image is better controlled.

What is the difference between Leica and Hasselblad?

This lens works, even if content to add a little overlay, as we once had a definite partnership between Zeiss and Vivo. As far as we know, Hasselblad is content to help Oppo and OnePlus calibrate the color while the exact extent of the collaboration between Leica and Xiaomi is not yet known.

On the other hand, it is likely that the color methods or the definition we present to you are usually the same as other manufacturers. Let’s add that many manufacturers like Samsung, Apple or Honor don’t use such partnerships, which doesn’t stop them from being well positioned in the various ranks of the best photophone.

NB. This article was written as part of a press trip organized by Vivo to Berlin, with Zeiss teams.


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