Light field science is coming out of the labs into your pocket — so promises the team at Lytro who is debuting the first compact and portable light field camera this year. Instead of focusing light at just one spot, the light field camera records the light field — data about all the light rays in a scene. It uses a new kind of sensor called a light field sensor to capture the color, intensity and vector direction of the rays of light. The camera is [almost] all software using sophisticated algorithms that allow you to focus after you’ve captured your image… on any point you want!
CEO Ren Ng wrote his PhD dissertation titled “Digital Light Field Photography” back in July 2006 at Stanford University. Without delving into the details of his dissertation, we will retrieve the following info: His camera is based on the plenoptic camera that records the light field on its imaging plane in a single photographic exposure. An array of microlenses is placed in front of the photosensor in a conventional camera [we already do that today] and each microlens covers multiple photosensor pixels, and separates the light rays that strike it into a tiny image on the pixels underneath [this is different]. Aside from the fact that it records light fields instead of regular photographs, this camera looks and operates largely like a regular digital camera.
Price? How does $10K sound? Hmm, a Leica M9-P or a Lytro?
Anyway, Lytro will revolutionize photography as we know it. Of course, underexposed, low-light blurred action photos are something else.
Explore the picture gallery.
Read Ren Ng’s PhD dissertation.
Read the blog.