Light field cameras could be the next big thing in photography and/or video, but as of right now, there is only one company selling anything that can achieve the affect: Lytro. If you have been wondering if this effect could be recreated with the DSLR you already own, the answer, as it turns out, is yes. The Chaos Collective, a group of internet futurists, has created a way to achieve the exact same effect as the Lytro camera with any DSLR, and has even created a way to embed the adjustable photos online.
Check out some of the samples they were able to create:
All you really need is a couple seconds of video to make it happen. Here is a little bit about their process:
We ended up using a 20x20 grid, giving us 400 selectable regions to play with. Making the grid finer is simple, but we noticed that making it too small actually made it harder to calculate focal clarity. The reason: we're looking at the difference between rough and smooth transitions in the image. If the grid is too small, smooth surfaces become difficult to accurately detect. Tighter grids also produce large embed code, so we stuck with 20x20 as grid that dense-enough without introducing extra overhead.
Here are the step by step directions, taken from their website:
- Grab your camera (one that shoots video and has manual focus; we used a Canon T3i).
- Frame your shot. Find something that has both close and far elements.
- Get stable. A tripod is handy here, but not necessary.
- For the best effect, narrow your depth-of-field (use largest aperture possible).
- Turn the focus to one extreme. Start taking video.
- While the video is recording, slowly turn the focus to the other extreme (over 2-3 seconds).
- Stop the video. Now go copy it to your computer.
Once that's done, you can go right to their site and use the tool that they've created in order to turn your video into the DOF-adjustable kind. You also should keep in mind that even though the processing tool can handle files that are 1920 x 1080, those are going to be gigantic for loading all at once on a webpage, so it might make more sense to shrink them a bit before they are uploaded.
Here is another tip:
...since we're using the HTML5 video tag, you'll want to use video formats that work cross browser. Our camera shoots .mov files by default (not supported by all HTML browsers), so we opened them up in Quicktime and saved them as .m4v to make browsers happy.
While it's not quite the same thing as Lytro (since you are cheating a little), it is still giving you a pretty amazing effect, and even though the interface to adjust depth of field isn't quite as slick as the one that we've seen from Lytro themselves, it will still certainly do the job. We're definitely going to see a lot more in the way of light field effects and light field cameras, but until the technology really catches up, you can play around with the effect on the DSLR you already own.
Head on over to The Chaos Collective to learn more about the process and give it a try.
What do you think? Is this something you'd like to try out and play around with? (It doesn't cost anything, after all)