Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Waiting for a Lytro

Ever since I heard of Lightfield Photography, I've wanted IN. You can focus through objects, focus after the fact, and a lot more that I haven't discovered yet. While I've wanted my own microlens camera to do experiments, the cost was just too far out there for me.

So I did what any good hacker would do, I started experimenting with my single camera from multiple view points. At first the photos really sucked, but they've been getting better over the years.

You can see some my virtual focus images (which is the end result of all this) in this gallery at Flickr.

SO, The Lytro camera has finally been announced. I'm ordering one as soon as I can.

It's a consumer appliance version of a camera, far from what I expected, but also FAR cheaper than I expected, and much more user friendly.

The big feature of this camera is that it captures a "light field", which is to say that it takes multiple photographs of the same scene from slightly different angles, all at the same instant. The raw data is then stored for later processing (later being milliseconds or years)... to render it into a 2d image along a selected focal plane.

They chose a configuration which doesn't require any mechanical focus system, which means you can grab images as soon as the CPU in the camera is ready... no hunt and seek focus in the dark. This is a big time plus if you've been frustrated with the shortcomings of "contrast detect" focus used on almost every "point and shoot" compact digital camera.

There are a lot of design choices that I don't get, but I don't have one, and I haven't used one, so I'll have to wait and see how well it actually works.

It will be fun, even if we have to wait until version 2.0 of this technology.

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