Start-up company Lytro have announced they are developing a consumer camera with a light field sensor. They say that it will be “Portable and stylish enough to bring along, from the beach to the bistro.” Lytro are also saying that it will available to consumers this year.
Light field – definition:
The light field is a function that describes the amount of light travelling in every direction through every point in space. (source: Wikipedia)
So what is a light field camera anyway? It’s a camera with a sensor that not only records colour but also records the angle at which the light rays hit the sensor. With this extra information, a bunch of clever algorithms and some substantial data processing you can decide after having taken the photograph which part of the image you would like in focus. This includes choosing a narrow depth of field, where that focus point is, or choosing to have everything in focus throughout the entire image! It is also possible to view a 3D effect without the need for 3D glasses.
If this camera comes to fruition it will be interesting indeed. Interesting to see what consumers make of it and if major manufacturers sit up and take notice. Only time will tell if it is a game changer but the potential is certainly there.
See the Lytro website for more information. The examples are pretty cool so go and have a play. Be sure also to download and digest Ren Ng’s dissertation on the matter!
Engadget have a video which is an interview with the Lytro CEO Ren Ng where he demostrates the effect of capturing the light field information. It is well worth a look.