While the number one thing that differentiates Microsoft’s new productivity device, the Surface Duo, is the new form factor, we are mostly interested in its camera performance, namely, zoom capability. Having a single camera module, the Surface Duo is said to have enhanced zoom quality by using a super-resolution zoom algorithm.
We were eager to compare Microsoft vs. Almalence Super Resolution Zoom performance, and here it goes – below are comparison results at 7x zoom (max available zoom factor on the Duo).
Siemens Star test chart, 7x zoom, Left: Microsoft Zoom, Right: Almalence SuperResolution Zoom
We particularly like Spilled Coins (aka Dead Leaves) chart, for it is nearly impossible to fake high resolution with it using sharpening. It also extremely well exposes detail loss due to noise reduction, highlighting the advantage of algorithms that suppress the noise without loss of detail.
DxOMark chart, Spilled Coins, 7x zoom. Left: Microsoft Duo built-in, Right: Almalence SuperResolution
Text readability test usually works well too:
Left: Microsoft Surface Duo 7x zoom; Right: Almalence Super Resolution Zoom
To summarize: while using a single camera module seems to make sense for the Surface Duo niche, Microsoft could have used a more powerful super-resolution technique to mitigate the device’s zoom quality limitation.