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New Camera Will Revolutionise Photography

David Gilbert


New Camera Will Revolutionise Photography

A Californian start-up called Lytro is planning on releasing a consumer camera later this year which it believes will be as radical a change in the market as going from film to digital was – and after seeing the evidence we would have to agree with them.

Lytro, founded by Ren Ng, will release the world’s first light field consumer camera later this year and is hoping it will revolutionise the way we take and view pictures. Regular digital cameras require you to manually focus first or wait for auto-focus to kick in before capturing a snapshot of light on the sensor. With the light field camera from Lytro however, it captures far more light data from many angles using a micro lens array, which basically puts many lenses in the space between the main lens and the image sensor. These microlenses measure the amount of light coming in and from which direction thus creating a light field. The real breakthrough Ng has achieved is to have condensed what was previously being done with an array of 100s of digital cameras and a supercomputer into a point-and-shoot camera. This was what Ng wrote his dissertation on as a PhD student at Stanford University eight years ago.

Once the pictures are taken and uploaded onto your PC, laptop, tablet or phone, special software will then allow you to manipulate the image to change the focus of the shot. This should ensure that you will never again miss that vital shot of your child’s football game no matter how fast they are going. Not only will it allow you to refocus the image afterwards, light field technology will allow for photos to be taken in very low light without a flash. Furthermore the single light field lens will allow you to take 3D images, though you’ll need a 3D display of some sort to view them. Lytro hopes to have a consumer camera ready for market later this year and Ng said: “It will be a competitively priced consumer product that fits in your pocket.” Lytro currently has around 45 employees and going into the camera manufacturing business is a big step. The first Lytro camera will only take still images though the possibility for using light field technology for video as well as scientific and medial imaging is there.

Lytro Light Field Camera

It is surprising that this technology has not been licensed out to the more established camera manufacturers – though this of course will remain a possibility.

Source: All Things D and Lytro

Edward Crabtree

June 22, 2011, 8:24 pm

That is so ridiculously AWESOME!


June 22, 2011, 8:35 pm

"It is surprising that this technology has not been licensed out to the more established camera manufacturers – though this of course will remain a possibility."

I am sure that you are NOT being diplomatic in saying that.

The established manufacturers have vested interests in selling us crap. Note the experience of Sir James Dyson (of the bagless vacuum cleaner) and almost every innovator like him before him.

I've said a number of times herein we DO NOT need a BD or any such recorders/players when you can slot a USB stick or SD-type card to your tv. Likewise Tivo functionality for 'live' tv should really be integrated into tvs not some separate box.

Also, why are SSD/USB sticks/SD-type cards so expensive when they don't need to be?


June 23, 2011, 1:40 pm

Technology has always progressed at the rate that the market supports, rather than the rate at which engineers would like! That's just the way of the world. If you can figure out a way for a company to turn a profit from your low cost ideas, then kudos to you. And more kudos if you then don't fall into the same trap yourself, by becoming "an established manufacturer".

You cite Dyson as an innovator who bucks the trend, but our Dyson machine weighed a ton, and wasn't reliable. Eventually it broke altogether, despite the fact that we only have one small room in our flat with carpet. When we came to replace it, all of the advice we received pointed us towards other manufacturers. Dyson, too, is driven by profit. His public crusade was against the way the patent system works, not against making massive profits and selling his one great idea.

All through history, there have been inventions which the market just wasn't ready for.

Folks who read tech sites need to brush up on basic economics!


June 24, 2011, 1:40 pm

@Bluepork - 9:40 AM on 23 June, 2011

I know more than "basic economics" and tech site reader. Also, I refused to buy a Dyson until it was at a reasonable price than his premium price and then I was forced to buy it when the standard models kept failing. After 7 years of the same dyson and no repairs/servicing at all it is still going as well as the first day!!

The Japanese consumers are the most demanding in the world and they were the first to adopt it at £1000 ago in the 1980s!!! So I don't know what you're talking about it being a ton and so on?

Also, I don't expect anyone to sell at no profit as they would not be in business for very long. Equally I don't like being ripped-off.

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