Lytro Cameras. A New Evolution in Technology?
by Peter Zack
Is this a new evolution in cameras or a gimmick in post processing (in camera)? It’s too early to tell and the web site (link below) info is a bit thin.
The claim is you don’t have to even focus the shot taken by the camera. You can take the shot and focus the image as you like after it’s been taken. From the web site: No fuss focus; Click away. Shoot first, focus after. That’s right, after. You can’t miss. If you go to the web page, the picture gallery has images you can click on to refocus the shot displayed. OK, call me a skeptic, they don’t show the camera and there is no real deeper explanation of what’s happening or being done to achieve this. It could simply be a little software on the web site that takes a shot with a great depth of field that is blurred. Then you click on a spot to bring the focus back. I’m no techie but I’m waiting for a bit more data and proof of what this camera is reported to be doing.
Putting my opinion to the side, if this is indeed a new breed of sensor and camera design, it’s going to change cameras as we know them. Dr Ng, who wrote his thesis on how to create a single “Light Field” camera that until now would require upwards of 100 cameras connected to a super computer. As I understand it, the theory being that each camera offers a different field of view of the same scene and all the images are combined to create the single, final image. These cameras capture the entire light field of that scene.
Light field theory is a well established scientific pursuit and has been studied for a century. The (very) basic idea is that there’s much more light in a scene than the angle of view a singe lens or any single pickup device can gather. Light is all around a scene, front, sides, back, top and bottom. The camera that Lytro is reporting to have created can capture much of this missing (from any previous camera) light.
The resulting image can be refocused on a computer by clicking on the spot you want in focus. Other benefits are the camera speed is improved because the camera does not need to focus the shot. The camera is better in low light since all of the available light is being captured. The image captured can be displayed in a 2D or 3D format.
Lytro was founded in 2006 by Dr Ren Ng, whose research and thesis in light field photography won best PhD dissertation in computer science at Stanford in 2006 as well as winning the worldwide Association for Computing Machinery award.
I’ll wait and see more data and proof but I do hope this technology does come to market with all the promise the claims suggest. This one could be something to watch. It certainly could render millions of cameras as obsolete as the vinyl record.
Try it for yourself, just click on any spot of the image you want in focus:
Visit Lytro for more information.
Cheers and good shooting
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Tags: Light Field, Lytro, Lytro camera, Lytro Light Field, Photography, Plenoptic Camera