A Cool Camera for Klutzes: The Lytro Light-Field Camera

Ok, I heard this on the radio a while back so its not hot news, but its such a cool piece of tech that I thought I’d share it with you.

A while back a company called Lytro came up with a very clever idea.  The Stanford boffin behind the company, Ren Ng, after having difficulty focusing while photographing a friend’s daughter, thought to use his research experience and produce an consumer light-field camera.

We’re talking here about light-field or plenoptic cameras.  Blah, blah, blah, but what does that actually mean to you and me?  Get this- these camera’s allow you to focus on any part of the image AFTER, you’ve taken the picture!  So, hopefully, no more out-of-focus cock-ups.

It works by hoovering in an enormous amount of light, or in the company’s own words, ‘all the light traveling in every direction in every point in space’ instead of just one single plane of light like a normal camera.

Lytro have put up a gallery of pictures taken with the camera.  If you look at this particular picture, you’ll see some impressive results as you zoom around the image and re-focus.  The one possible drawback I noticed was some grid-like artefacting at maximum zoom, for example, around the spider’s legs.  Whether this is a result of compression of the uploaded image or a side-effect of the process, I cannot tell you (someone give this thing a full review!)

The cameras start off at 399 US dollars when they start shipping in 2012, you’ll need a Mac to use the desktop software and they only ship to the US.  Another thing you can’t buy here and even if you could, I couldn’t afford one anyway.  Nice tech though and its cool to see tech usually aimed at the specialised scientific market and very expensive, being developed into consumer products.

Chek Sa Tek!


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