PetaPixel

Lytro Is Developing a Camera That May Change Photography as We Know It

A company called Lytro has just launched with $50 million in funding and, unlike Color, the technology is pretty mind-blowing. It’s designing a camera that may be the next giant leap in the evolution of photography — a consumer camera that shoots photos that can be refocused at any time. Instead of capturing a single plane of light like traditional cameras do, Lytro’s light-field camera will use a special sensor to capture the color, intensity, and vector direction of the rays of light (data that’s lost with traditional cameras).

[…] the camera captures all the information it possibly can about the field of light in front of it. You then get a digital photo that is adjustable in an almost infinite number of ways. You can focus anywhere in the picture, change the light levels — and presuming you’re using a device with a 3-D ready screen — even create a picture you can tilt and shift in three dimensions. [#]

Try clicking the sample photograph above. You’ll find that you can choose exactly where the focus point in the photo is as you’re viewing it! The company plans to unveil their camera sometime this year, with the goal of having the camera’s price be somewhere between $1 and $10,000…


Here are some more sample photographs:

Lytro (via TechCrunch)


Update: Check out this short promo video the company made:


 
  • BigTallGates

    Awesome, for sure. But is it possible to run ‘low-aperture’ so that everything is in focus?

  • Lisa Boulden

    That was kind of my thought too.  Changing the focus is great but also being able to change the depth of field would be awesome.

  • http://twitter.com/paniq Leonard Ritter

    The technology can do that. I saw a few web presentations a while ago, when it came straight out of the lab.

  • http://twitter.com/Myrddon Henning Nilsen

    Impressive technology, but is it just me who thinks the quality is very guffy(that’s a word now)?

    Besides. It won’t make people better photgraphers.

  • Rob

    It seems like its a “normal” picture with digital sharpening.  The out of focus areas get better but are still out of focus.  Not sure how you can change something that is created by the optics.

  • http://www.photoblog.com/bergur Bergur

    I see the technological and practical uses of this, but I’m afraid it will ruin most internet photo galleries.

    Brilliant idea for enthusiastic and beginner photographers, though.

  • Me

    But it is created “by the optics” – it’s an array of lenses – all capturing the varies DoFs through the scene in front of it.

  • Rob

    hmmm…ok, makes sense.  Still seems like there is an obvious point of focus and everything else is not quite there.

  • Rob

    hmmm…ok, makes sense.  Still seems like there is an obvious point of focus and everything else is not quite there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tony.smythe1 Tony Smythe

    Possibly useful for Police photographer in crowd control. Other than that…?

  • Adam

    Further proof that the photography industry is desperate for new ideas and willing to try any gimmicky crap. Next thing you know some company will plant automated cameras all over a city and we’ll be able to create our own snapshots from their feed. This isn’t art, it’s just trawling through random rubbish looking for patterns, like people who don’t have a clue what lighting is, trying to squeeze something meaningful out of RAW files. Learn to take a photo already.

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  • http://www.casagli.com Alessandro Casagli

    I’d like to use this technology only on my post production side, and I would not share anytime something interactive as above. I’d like to use it because it will help me to improve the message i’d like to convey!

  • http://www.facebook.com/joakim.bidebo Joakim Bidebo

    Read an article about a similar camera sometime around year 2000, maybe not similar tho but the effect was the same. What it did was stack a lot of photos in the camera so you later in computer software should pick where you wanted the focus and how big/small the DOF should be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joakim.bidebo Joakim Bidebo

    Read an article about a similar camera sometime around year 2000, maybe not similar tho but the effect was the same. What it did was stack a lot of photos in the camera so you later in computer software should pick where you wanted the focus and how big/small the DOF should be.

  • http://blog.thepixelkitchen.net/ ajw93

    THIS.

  • Kenzo8it

    It’s taking the talent and the skill out of photography. But i guess this was always going to happen.

  • Kenzo8it

    It’s taking the talent and the skill out of photography. But i guess this was always going to happen.

  • Oliver

    does it or does it change the skill…

  • Edwaste

    As Cartman would say: “I declare shenanigans” These sample images are Adobe flash images. Clicking on each area just fades in a cleverly masked sharp image. There are just a few sharp and unsharp masked images brought into view as you click on that area.

  • Clint Davis

    Embrace change, this is an amazing advancement in photography. No one will ever replace the mind behind the tool.

  • 15 cats

    I spotted that too! They’re trying to con us!

  • http://twitter.com/DrStosch DrStosch

    So talent and skill means (in terms of photography) to take a sharp picture?
    What’s with the arrangement of a photo? The right arrangement makes any object interesting.

  • http://twitter.com/DrStosch DrStosch

    So talent and skill means (in terms of photography) to take a sharp picture?
    What’s with the arrangement of a photo? The right arrangement makes any object interesting.

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  • http://www.rebeccastanek.com/blog/ Rebecca

    Oh, I agree, it’s noisy as hell.  I haven’t found a great description of the specs yet (the wikipedia article was a bit vague), but it sounds like the spatial resolution is inversely proportional to the depth of the available range of focal points.

  • Anonymous

    it’s not a con.  it’s a representation of what you’ll be able to do with the camera before publishing a regular old jpg.  i saw a demo of this camera at stanford in 2005 and it really is mind blowing.  DOF and focus were both completely adjustable after the fact.

    imho this will have a positive effect on the art of photography.  it’ll finally separate those with the budget for expensive lenses and those who actually know how to compose and light a scene.

  • Anonymous

    it’s not a con.  it’s a representation of what you’ll be able to do with the camera before publishing a regular old jpg.  i saw a demo of this camera at stanford in 2005 and it really is mind blowing.  DOF and focus were both completely adjustable after the fact.

    imho this will have a positive effect on the art of photography.  it’ll finally separate those with the budget for expensive lenses and those who actually know how to compose and light a scene.

  • Giddyapgrl

    This is kind of a new refreshed version of the old stereo camera.  With the resurgence of popularity in 3-D films, this would be an obvious next step in photography.  Can only imagine how expensive something like this would be….

  • Automan25

    Adam. You should really seek to understand the technology before making such a comment. This is truly revolutionary and I too am fatigued by much of the tech gimmickry out there. Check out the inventor’s dissertation at this link.

    http://www.lytro.com/renng-thesis.pdf

  • Automan25

    This camera does not use photo stacking to achieve this effect. It’s completely different tech.

  • Sfaulk

    “Instead of capturing a single plane of light like traditional cameras do” What does that mean anyway? No need to explain because it means nothing. Lytro is a consumer grade gimmick. 50 Million dollars for production of this revolutionary camera/ Software device. Give me a break…

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  • http://www.adrianmcmillan.com/blog Adrian McMillan

    This seems familiar, but looks great!

  • Ranma13

    Adam, the tool does not define the art. Haven’t you ever wished that a photo you took could have been focused better? And ‘trawling through random rubbish looking for patterns’ can be done even with a film camera. As Automan25 has said, please try to understand the technology before busting out the smug ego.

  • Ranma13

    Name one camera that allows you to refocus the image after the fact. Surely you must understand what that means, right?

  • Dennis

    I thought the same thing.  If you can select a particular point to focus on, then why not have the ability to bring the entire picture into focus?  Most photographers can alter the depth of field to achieve what this camera promises.  Oh well, time will tell.

  • Anonymous

    Seriously? You really think this is limited to consumer snapshots? I’ve already thought of a dozen ways to use it in my professional work, particularly for remotely mounted cameras during large events. Whether on an intervalometer or a remote shutter release I can’t select where to focus it. This way I can take shot after shot after shot through and event and later edit it for the ideal focus point (and hopefully also DoF) before processing it as a static image. Again, that’s just one of the applications I’ve thought of already. If you can’t think of any way to use it then you are seriously stuck in your own limited world (and photographic) view. Very sad. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Austin-Hoherd/576367461 Daniel Austin Hoherd

    If you look at the light-field photography vids you can see that the option to alter DoF is available.  What’s also great is that light-field cameras require you to shoot at the widest aperture, so you will always have the ability to get a shallow DoF, and can shoot in low light.  …which I guess isn’t great for people who want to take ski photos where high shutter speeds and tiny apertures are necessary.  Anyhow, there are some great vids from a few years back and some from Adobe conferences that demo this idea a lot more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Austin-Hoherd/576367461 Daniel Austin Hoherd

    If you look at the test cameras and how the technology works, it requires a significantly higher amount of pixels than traditional cameras, which is why they were using medium format cameras in their prototypes.  This thing will cut your MP to a fraction of what the sensor is, though they may have some software to add in extra info to correct that decimation of pixels.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Austin-Hoherd/576367461 Daniel Austin Hoherd

    The technology was invented several years back, it’s just now coming to market.  There have been many videos demonstrating the technique, and adobe had some demo software and images you could play with to show off how it all works.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Austin-Hoherd/576367461 Daniel Austin Hoherd

    When I first saw the technology a few years ago ( http://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/lfcamera/ ) I discussed the potentials with my brother who is a videographer and we agreed that as good as this will be for photography, the real benefits will come with video where you will get perfectly in-focus video, perfect follow focus, etc..  The problem now is that the sensors to capture the required informational bandwidth do not exist.

    All in all though, this is not a consumer commercial gimmick, this is in-fucking-credible and probably the biggest step in the physics of photography since photography was invented because it literally adds on an entire new optical dimension to still photography.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fbcool FBcool Fabien

    can it works with stereoscopy ?

  • http://www.frankthiele.net Frank Thiele

    this is so simple. no wonder no new technology nothing.
    I think:
    technical its just a “like” fuji finepix 3d camera with realy small sensors to get everything sharp. then you install just a software to your computer which differentiates the field levels and unsharps the unselected.
    If they really spend $50 million dollar to develop i think it’s better to get a f***** camera and travel the world to make pictures.
    this is not a new camera just a different software. i think price will be $400. if more you shouldn’t buy it.
    sorry for my bad englisch but its not my native laguage.

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  • t0mmm1

    I agree with you Frank! That’s why nobody talk about bokeh. I think Lytro is just small sensor camera with f/8 lens to get everything in focus. Some cheap camera with new software. But I guess it will cost a fortune.

  • Orbithead

    I’m looking at all the inappropriate uses or “misuses” a new technology can offer. Focus schmocus. Let’s see how this thing can generate new ideas through optical/sensors that change the lexicon of photographic critique… Anyone remember the Fischer-Price Pixelvision video camera? or pinholes? or …

  • Urweddingbook

    I wonder how fast this camera is if it’s catching all that light and all that info in one shot. I’m sure it works well if it’s well lit outside but indoors…. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/DSKagle Daniel S Kagle

    wow this is a dumb gimmick