Lytro light field camera promises to make focus unnecessary
I've looked at a lot of pictures in my 30-year career and if I had $1 for every great photo that was ruined because it wasn't in focus, I probably would not be writing this blog post right now. Even with modern, auto-focus cameras we all miss the focus from time to time, usually when the focus sensor is hitting something in the background instead of what we wanted in focus.
The folks at Lytro say they can put an end to out-of-focus pictures with the Lytro light field camera. "Shoot now, focus later" is the slogan they're using for the camera, which is still under development and scheduled to be available sometime this year. Click around in the picture below to refocus the picture on various things and prepare to be amazed.
The digital cameras we're using now capture the image as light hits a sensor adding up all the light rays and recording them as a single amount of light on a flat image. Light field cameras capture the entire field of light which is the amount of light traveling in every direction through every point in space in a scene. The light field sensor captures color, intensity and vector direction of the rays of light.
This not only allows for the manipulation of focus and depth-of-field characteristics after the fact, but it also gives attributes to photos that can make them 3D. Watch the video below for a look at the potential of this incredible technology.
If the Lytro technology can be packaged in a camera that is affordable at the consumer level, it will change the face of photography forever. With the ability to control focus and depth of field after the fact, the image becomes truly raw and so many photographs that would not be usable will be saved. Is it altered reality? Not really, because we have been using different lenses to control point-of-view and depth-of-field for a long time.
You can reserve a camera on the Lytro site now by sending them an email address, although no pricing has been announced and no photos of the actual camera have been released. A gallery of additional photos is here.