Lytro: The Light Field Camera that Promises to Change Photography

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Later this year, Lytro will debut a light field camera “that turns light into living pictures”—a technology that the Mountain View start-up says will “bring the biggest change to photography since the transition from film to digital,” according to comments given to Ina Fried of All Things D. The ground-breaking idea is that with the Lytro camera, there is no longer a need to focus before pressing the shutter release. They’re saying, basically, to forget everything you know about taking a picture because once a frame is captured with the Lytro camera,the image remains alive and flexible to change. You can change the focus however, wherever, whenever you’d like. Go ahead, try it out on with existing images. I was dubious as well.

If you’ve never heard of Lytro, or their technology, you are not alone—even in the photo world. The announcement of the as yet released point-and-shoot comes well before the equipment makes an appearance on the market or to reviewers. The science, according to Lytro, is as simple as this:

- “The light field is a core concept in imaging science, representing fundamentally more powerful data than in regular photographs…Conventional cameras cannot record the light field.”

- “Recording light fields requires an innovative, entirely new kind of sensor called a light field sensor. The light field sensor captures the color, intensity and vector direction of the rays of light.”

- “The way we communicate visually is evolving rapidly, and people’s expectations are changing in lockstep. Light field cameras offer astonishing capabilities. They allow both the picture taker and the viewer to focus pictures after they’re snapped, shift their perspective of the scene, and even switch seamlessly between 2D and 3D views.”

Essentially, they are hinting that all prior means of making a photo are now obsolete. What do you think about that?



3 Responses to “Lytro: The Light Field Camera that Promises to Change Photography”

  1. [...] In a recent patent application [here, via Photography Bay], Samsung proposed “a method for performing out-focus of camera having a first lens and a second lens, comprising: photographing a first image with the first lens and photographing a second image with the second lens; extracting depth information of the photographed first image and second image; and performing out-focus on the first image or the second image using the extracted depth information” [via]. Basically, they’re looking into a way to get the kind of shallow DOF results of the DSLR with a compact point-and-shoot. We recently saw that a different technology for the same result is in the works with the Lytro camera. [...]

  2. [...] the Lytro camera—the one that was announced before anyone had even seen the gear or formerly heard of [...]

  3. [...] is a documentation of a single moment in time. But it will go about this in a different way than Lytro does. With the Blackberry camera, a blunder in the capture (like, say, someone blinking) can be [...]

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