Lytro: Light Field Camera

Lytro, a Silicon Valley start-up, unveiled its plan to commercialize a light field camera.

What is a light field?

It is the amount of light traveling in every direction through every point in space – it’s all the light rays in a scene.

So how does it work?

Recording light fields requires an innovative, entirely new kind of sensor called a light field sensor. The light field sensor captures the color, intensity and vector direction of the rays of light. This directional information is completely lost with traditional camera sensors, which simply add up all the light rays and record them as a single amount of light.

The two main benefits are: no fuss focus and speed.

Click away. Shoot first, focus after. That’s right, after. You can’t miss.

From sleep to snap in under a second. Instant on. Bye-bye shutter lag.

According to Ren Ng, Founder and CEO of Lytro, the company will commercialize a price competitive light field camera that will fit into a pocket later this year.

Update 2012.03.02: Richard Butler, Digital Photography Review:

And the screen is one of the camera’s great problems. It’s small, low resolution, and suffers from very poor viewing angles. As a result it’s often hard to tell what your images are going to end up looking like.

The square 1.46-inch LCD is limited to a pixel format of 128×128. If that isn’t limiting enough the viewing angles are terrible with dramatic color and contrast shifts. Lytro has gone through all this trouble to take an esoteric technology and build a unique consumer camera, but didn’t think it was worthwhile to equip it with a decent display. Unfortunate.

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