New camera technology

I saw a website today advertising a new camera that uses “light field” technology instead of a normal sensor. Basically, instead of taking a normal snapshot picture on a sensor, the camera records all the info about the light that enters the camera, including direction vectors.

This means that there is no need to bother with things like exposure or focusing beforehand as you simply change those in software processing after the fact. No focus, means instant shots when you press the shutter.

The shots I’ve seen on the company’s website do lack a certain sharpness, which could be due to a number of things, such as:

  • quality of the lens
  • limitations in using a web browser based viewing of the photos for refocusing instead of dedicated applications

Still, the technology shows a lot of promise. lytro.com
Cameras only available to Mac users in the US at the moment.

We won’t delve too deeply into the rationale behind that marketing decision. :frowning:
Fluff

The idea is intriguing, but several limitations – maybe, as we’ve come to appreciate in our cyber-world, you choose whether to call them “bugs” or “features” – come quickly to mind.

  1. As you point out, lens quality. With a top-of-the-line price at US 500, you can’t expect image quality much better than what you now get with a smart phone. Small images on the page or the computer screen, okay, but I like 12 x 18 blowups framed on the wall.
  2. Adjust focus and exposure later? I focus and expose for subject when I take the picture; if I wanted a different picture, I’d have shot that way. (Perhaps this suggests new approach to photography: capture the entire scene, and decide later which elements are of interest. That’s in contrast to the historic approach: decide which elements are of interest, and expose for them.)
  3. The whole idea implies, and even seems to encourage, sloppiness in art. Grab a bunch of images and decide later what the subject is.
  4. As with camera-phones, you may vastly increase the overall number of images. And no matter how careless or inept the photographer, a certain percentage of the images will turn out well. Ten times the number of images, taken with only ten percent of the skill and care, may produce the same number of good images. The problem is that you now have ten times as much crap to struggle through to find the good stuff.
    I think I’ll keep the Canon for a few more years.

ps

Part of the charm is that you can allow the ultimate viewer - rather than the photographer - to select (or indeed keep changing) their own focal / focus point at the point of ‘consumption’. In that regard, I suspect it’s going to be a “facebook” camera rather than one for prints on the wall, and therefore quite expensive for it’s likely use at the moment.

I guess it’s the equivalent of writing a book from every conceivable character’s perspective, but letting the reader select which character’s view to read at any given point.

So the photographer becomes simply an enabler. Or, if you prefer a different metaphor, a window through which others view the world which s/he encounters

Remember when “computerized books” were going to liberate readers from the tyranny of authors?

If the facebook world is the one in which people choose to live, amen.

I will be among the absent troglodytes, reading (and writing) books in the traditional manner, and taking photographs the same way.

ps

Strikes me as embryo genius. Potentially the photographic equivalent of the videogame or text adventure. Right now, from their gallery, it looks a bit like a do-it-yourself focus-puller; but it’s a big change of gear; until now, digital photography was just imitating analogue/silver halide; if it’s starting to play to its own strengths, it’ll be fascinating to see where it leads us…