Posts Tagged ‘lytro’
Lytro‘s groundbreaking light field camera is finally landing in the hands of customers, and to give people a better idea of how the camera works, the New York Times has published an interesting diagram that shows what makes the camera tick. Here’s what DPreview has to say about the camera:
The Lytro LFC is so unlike any conventional camera that it doesn’t make sense to score it in comparison to them. Ultimately, though, we’re not convinced that the Lytro either solves any existing problem or presents any compelling raison d’etre of its own. If it were higher resolution or allowed greater separation or could produce single lens 3D video it might generate a lot more excitement. As it is, it feels like a product arriving before the underlying technology is really ready.
All of which is a great shame, because Lytro has done a great job of making a credible consumer product out of a piece of fairly abstract scientific research. It’s quite possible that in the hands of the right people it will result in some interesting creations but we just don’t yet see it as a mass-market device.
The New York Times came to the same conclusion — that the technology is revolutionary, but the product isn’t game-changing… yet.
Designer Jean-michel Bonnemoy thinks that traditional camera designs are wrong, and that form factors were driven more by technical necessity (e.g. the need to hold film) than by ergonomics and ease of use. Instead, he proposes that modern digital cameras should be cylindrical and resembling a handheld telescope. A lens cap is built into the front, a viewfinder and LCD screen are built into the back, and the controls are in easy-to-access locations on the side of the camera.
Devin Coldewey of TechCrunch created this helpful diagram showing the relative sizes of various sensors, including the one found inside the Lytro light field camera (a camera that lets you focus after shots are taken). The FCC published photos of the Lytro camera’s guts last week, revealing that the sensor inside is roughly 6.5×4.5mm (smaller than our previous estimate). This means that it’s slightly larger than the iPhone sensor and slightly smaller than the one in most point-and-shoot cameras.
Another interesting finding is that the chip inside supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The company says that they’re working on wireless connectivity, but doesn’t have it enabled in the initial Lytro camera.
Yesterday we wrote that Steve Jobs had been interested in Lytro‘s novel camera technology during the final years of his life. PC World did an interview with Lytro executive chairman Charles Chi, who seems to indicate that Lytro is very open to the idea of partnering with cell phone makers and licensing light field technology to them:
If we were to apply the technology in smartphones, that ecosystem is, of course, very complex, with some very large players there. It’s an industry that’s very different and driven based on operational excellence. For us to compete in there, we’d have to be a very different kind of company. So if we were to enter that space, it would definitely be through a partnership and a codevelopment of the technology, and ultimately some kind of licensing with the appropriate partner.
He also states that Lytro has “the capital to do that, the capability in the company to do that, and… the vision to execute.” If Apple were to form an exclusive partnership with Lytro for its iPhone cameras, light field photography would instantly be adopted by the millions of people who purchase the phones every year. That’d definitely be a huge shift in the way people take pictures.
In November of last year, Steve Jobs’ official biographer Walter Isaacson revealed that Jobs had wanted to reinvent three things: television, textbooks, and photography. Last week Apple announced that it was reinventing textbooks with iBooks 2, which is intended to start a digital textbook revolution. The company is also rumored to be working on a Siri-enabled TV. Now, hints about what Steve Jobs wanted to do with photography are starting to emerge, and the murmuring is centered around one company: Lytro.
Here’s CNET’s introduction to the new Lytro camera. The square LCD screen on the back of the camera might be small, but it’s a touchscreen display that lets you play around with the focus directly in-camera rather than having to connect the device to a computer.
AllThingsD also has a video showing the camera being demoed at their conference last Thursday.
Here’s a cross section view of the consumer light field camera unveiled by Lytro yesterday. Many people have been wondering about the camera’s output resolution. The official specs are enigmatic in this regard, as the resolution isn’t listed in megapixels (it boasts “11 Megarays”). If the diagram is to scale, however, we can learn a little about the sensor’s size. The camera is listed as being 41mm tall, so the sensor appears to be between 7.5×7.5mm and 10.5×10.5mm — roughly the size of a Fujifilm X10 sensor.
Update: Photographer Jim Goldstein did his own calculations can guesses that the photos are equivalent to 1-2 megapixels.
For now, it really is just a novel toy. A $399 toy that’s certainly within reach of the photography junky in your life, eager for a new twist on an old concept. That may or may not describe you, but mark our words — when Lytro integrates this kind of tech into a larger, more potent shooter: game over.
The extremely minimalistic flashlight-style design shows that the company is aiming at ordinary consumers rather than people who are more serious about photography. You can’t really get simpler than a tiny camera with three controls (on/off, zoom, shutter).