Ball-bearing 'OIS' makes a comeback(!) in the Vivo X50 Pro's micro-gimbal

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Anyone else remember the Lumia 1020's OIS system, wherein the huge lens stack was balanced on tiny ball bearings? Chinese company Vivo has given Engadget a sneak peek at its new phone camera stabilisation system and there are definite 1020 echoes, though the 'micro-gimbal' system here goes further, of course, working to stabilise photos and videos against tilting instead of just up/down/left/right, as with traditional OIS. See the video cutaways/animations below.

The really interesting bit is the video from Vivo, of course - as usual click on the video UI to make it full screen or adjust quality:

From the Engadget article:

Back in late February, Vivo introduced a rather intriguing feature for its APEX 2020 concept phone: a tiny "gimbal-like structure" for the main camera, which was said to provide beefed-up optical stabilization “in the front-back and left-right inclined directions.” No further explanation was given at the time, but according to Engadget Chinese, today Vivo finally decided to offer us a technical look into its micro gimbal camera, as it prepares to bring this feature to a mass-produced phone for the first time.

Vivo’s upcoming X50 Pro (PD2005), due to be launched in China on June 1st, will be the first phone to take advantage of this specially-made camera. The module apparently costs twice to three times as much as conventional ones, and it also takes up much more space to accommodate the suspension parts.

Specifically, this micro gimbal mechanism consists of a magnetic frame controlled by voice coils (similar concept to conventional OIS but further refined), along with a suspension bracket connected to the base with double ball bearings. Together, these enable X- and Y-axis tilt angles of up to 3 degrees each, which is apparently three times that of traditional OIS.

Another challenge here is that the sensor’s ribbon has to be extended and folded into a dual-S shape, in order to ease any tension from twisting during stabilization. Hence the extra surface area (363mm²) taken up by the entire module, though Vivo and its supplier managed to keep the thickness at 4.5mm.

As far as I can see, the anti-tilt gimbal system works with (i.e. doesn't replace) existing OIS 'MEMS' springs, so the stability of these new phone cameras should be exceptional. Add in software stabilisation (EIS) and who needs a steadycam anymore, or indeed a tripod...?

All very interesting, and nice to see such a clear breakdown of how it all works - Vivo looks serious about this one.

Source / Credit: Engadget