Light Focus, Sharp Bokeh
Plenoptic cameras are nothing new to the industry, Stanford students have been playing with the idea since 2005, basing their studies off reports from all the way back to 1992 by E.H. Adelson and J.Y.A. Wang – even imaging’s favorite little gold-bearing leprechaun Adobe has been in the research field for this new tech. Plenoptic cameras are a imaging achievement that is well on it’s way to changing the way people take photos. The camera’s value comes from a microlens array (like a bug’s eye) that when paired with a computational program that sorts out the multi-image data creates something to the effect of a 4D picture. What the multiple lens array does is remove the DOF focusing restrictions that single-lens systems have to work with, as well as capture up to 90,000 slightly different angles of the same frame.
Lets drop it into layman’s terms before it gets even more complicated, and it really does – I’m no where near qualified to even start discussing the tech in depth. This camera lets you take a shot of anything, and you can make it focus where you want after the shot is completed, even re-orient the shot a la Matrix-style to a slightly different shooting position.
What Stanford graduate researchers did is take this tech and push it way into the future. Not only are all the fun elements of post re-focusing technologies there, but now the cameras can shoot in single-image HDR, and this is just the start. There are concepts waiting to be revealed through this technology that has not even come up in human thought yet. The possibilities are liable to keep one up at night just dreaming about whats next.
One company put all that sleeplessness to work, and the founder and CEO came out of those lovely Stanford experiments with a plan. After spending several more years under the radar as the research company Refocus Imaging, Ren Ng and his team have emerged with a goal and a product that can make all this a consumer reality. Their website is now claiming that “This year, Lytro will debut the first light field camera for everyone.”
Check it out, the only thing I’ve been able to express is a simple emotion – “Wow.”