Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lytro Camera

This is a really interesting new camera from a company named Lytro.  They have developed a technology that allows you to focus your picture after you take it.   You can see some examples of what is possible here.  Instead of just taking a picture with a standard camera sensor, their camera records what they call the light field. The image they save is not a standard JPEG or RAW file like you get out of most cameras, instead it is a new format that must be processed into a standard, focused image before it can be used in existing applications.  Still, I find it pretty amazing to think that you can focus your image after the fact.  They have been working on this technology for a while, and its really exciting to see that they have produced a product that they are selling starting at $399.  This is one of the first really different kinds of cameras to come along in a while.  Engadget has a hands-on first impression here, and CNET talks about it here.

Some of the implications of this technology are kind of interesting.  For example, it should mean that there is no shutter lag.  Right now, the time between when you press the button and the time the camera takes the picture is mostly spent with the camera trying to figure out where to focus.  Take away the focusing time, and pictures should be instantaneous.  Also, if may be possible to construct a sort of 3D image of a scene by applying some of the math they use to focus the pictures after the fact they should be able to tell how far away different parts of the picture are.  This should allow you to create a simple 3D model of the scene.  Pretty interesting stuff.