Sony Patent Shows Off Its Take on a Light Field Camera, Solves the Low-Res Problem


The light field photography market may soon get a little more crowded and competitive according to an exciting Sony patent that promises to not simply copy, but improve upon the technology made famous by Lytro.

Detailed in United States Patent Application US20140071244, Sony’s first foray into the realm of light field photography doesn’t just replicated the technology in other light field cameras, it solves one of the largest pitfalls of the technology — the inherit low-resolution of light field cameras.

According to Sony, their setup is “a camera system that [has] no useless pixel arrangement and [is] capable of suppressing decrease in resolution which may be caused by adopting stereo function.“

All in all, much of the tech inside of the sensor is still unknown (a fairly common feature of patents…). But it’s interesting to see that a major camera company is thinking of taking the leap into true light field photography… Who’s next?

(via sonyalpharumors)

  • Stephan Zielinski

    Not really. Since the megapixel wars, resolution has been diffraction-limited, and screwing around with different shapes within the microlens array doesn’t change the laws of optics.

    The design does appear to address one of the limitations of circular-microlens-array designs: the circular ones waste about (1 – pi/4) of the sensels, because there’s no optic path that leads from the world through the main lens through a microlens to impact the sensels in the corners between the microlenses. Addressing this is not unimportant; a system that can make use of all the sensels has about 27% more information to work with. But none of this changes the basic tradeoff of plenoptic designs: they trade resolution for depth of field. It’s why Lytro’s sensor has ~11 million sensels, yet the camera can only produce images with a resolution of 1080×1080. (Why this happens is complicated, and there’s still no better introduction than Ng’s paper Light Field Photography with a Hand-held Plenoptic Camera (PDF).

  • David Vaughn

    I can just imagine that Sony has all this amazing technology (from aliens they’ve captured) that they’re just kind of stockpiling, and one of the higher-ups says in a dramatic voice while staring out over the space ships and teleportation machines, “The world is not yet ready.”

    That’s exactly the scenario that goes through my head whenever Sony patents something.