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Can new capacitor make xenon smartphone flashes more popular?

The tiny capacitor next to its larger predecessor.

Xenon tubes have been used in camera flashes for decades but have been pushed out of the smartphone market by low-voltage, more efficient LED lights. This has come at a major cost to smartphone photographers. The tiny LED light found in most camera phones is only strong enough to cast an eerie, unattractive blue glow onto everything in its path.

Xenon flashes are present in some modern smartphones—most notably the Nokia 808 Pureview—but have been ignored by most manufacturers.  Xenon flashes are much brightter than LEDs, but a major reason for xenon’s lack of popularity in smartphones is that the hardware is simply bigger - too big, usually, to fit into an ultra-slim phone. The other is that unlike LEDs, xenon flashes can't double as video lights. 

Companies are working to find a cure for the LED blues. This week, researchers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore along with partner Xenon Technologies—the world’s largest producer of xenon flashes—announced a tiny capacitor for xenon flashes that it claims is just as powerful as its larger counterparts but is also faster.

The new capacitor from Nayang Technological University is set to be released this September. With top product manufacturers battling over camera specs, the flash may be the next step in appealing to photo-conscious consumers.


Total comments: 7

If the new light source cannot be used as continuous light for video and as a torch light, it is useless.

A smart phone is very much an "electric Swiss knife", for me at least, and one of its built-in tools is a torchlight.

While i found the continuous light on my new Nokias and Samsungs a tad weak when used as flash, i thought both phones worked well as torch lights and that's even more important.

Edited 1 minute after posting

Why not leave both xenon (this improved version) and led? I mean, I think pretty much everyone who has a smartphone with a led has already used it as a light torch since a led is strong enough to give some light in case of emergency.


Why is the new capacitor faster to charge? I thought the charge speed of capacitors is set by the voltage and amperage applied to them.

And LEDs are inherently more efficient than arc lamps like xenon tubes. They certainly run cooler. So aside from their color, they don't have any disadvantages, do they? So why don't they just work in making LED's more color accurate?


Xenon makes way more output compared to LEDs. The motivation here isnot just white light output but to greatly improve flash range and angular coverage with a brighter and wider bulb.

1 upvote

Thanks, LSHorwitz. To make output comparable to a xenon flash, you could just use more LEDs. An LED array would still use less power than an equally powerful xenon flash, because LEDs are more efficient. The LED array wouldn't be as much of a point source, but that might be a good thing for a flash.


The biggest advantage of a xenon flash for me would be it's ability to trigger a slave flash.


Yes. I second that. It would open up access to other more powerful flashes.

Total comments: 7
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