What am I goin’ on about, you might ask? Lytro has recently introduced a camera with an f/2 lens that they say captures the entire light field, allowing you to focus on parts of the image — AFTER you have taken the photo.
Have a look at some of the Lytro images here, all of which you may continually refocus: https://www.lytro.com/living-pictures/282.
No Auto-Focus. No delay. Just point and shoot.
Right now, you can’t do too much editing, although I suspect this will change with subsequent versions. It’s Mac only, although that too will change, according to Lytro. Oh, and no, you can’t make *everything* in focus, although the Lytro site indicates they’re workin’ on it.
It’s a little odd looking for a camera, but the technology is intriguing.
Sharing is not quite pointing and clicking with an iPhone and uploading it to Facebook. Right now, the camera is not wireless. But more than that, to share, you must upload photos to the Lytro website and share from there. There’s a good reason for this. The Lytro camera uses a different photo format, necessary because the camera captures very different data from “traditional” cameras. Lytro says, “The information is different because, while traditional cameras capture the intensity of the light, the sensor on our light field camera captures both the intensity and the direction of light.” They further go on to say, ”You aren’t changing the captured light field data, but are instead changing parameters that control projection of those data to the sequence of 2-D images that you see. Thus, light field pictures are ‘living pictures,’ and they make different demands of a picture format than do traditional photographs.”
And yes, I know that Raytrix (Germany) had developed light field camera that does something similar, allowing you to refocus the photo after the fact as well.
Future applications of this technology may someday forever change the way we share and experience photos, as well as have implications for other applications of photography, such as surveillance, security, perceived dimensionality in photographs, and even how we go about taking photos. Will Lytro or Raytrix license their technology to other manufacturers? How is this going to impact the kinds of photography we do? How will it impact 3D cinema, gaming, or scientific research?
I mentioned that every once in a while, I will link to something of interest. This is the first of many to come.