Modern imaging technology never ceases to amaze me. In the past, we've talked about light field cameras, such as the Lytro, which allow the user to refocus the image in post. We've also talked about new sensor technologies that use color diffraction instead of traditional filtration. Now, a group from Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany have developed a camera add-on that sits between the lens and the sensor that brings an array of impressive plenoptic features to any DSLR camera. What features. you might be asking? Light field refocusing, HDR imaging, and light polarization without filters, just to name a few. Interested? Read on for the details:
So what exactly is the KaleidoCamera, and what does it do? Well, in short, it's an optical accessory that sits between your lens and your camera body that creates plenoptic information through a system of mirrors and filters.
The channels of information can then be manipulated independently of each other in order to create various effects, such as HDR (without having to combine separate exposures), multispectral imaging, filter-less polarization, and of course, light field imaging for management of depth information.
The KaleidoCamera accomplishes this impressive list of tasks through a process in which light is broken into various elements within the add-on, and then re-combined before reaching the camera's sensor.
Essentially, when light enters the KaleidoCamera, it hits a kaleidoscopic element that creates multiple copies of the information, which are then individually modified by different filters before being re-combined into a single image.
Here's a demonstration video from the KaleidoCamera's creators that shows some of what the device is capable of:
This device seems to have quite a few applications in both the photographic and scientific communities. However, the ability to manipulate plenoptic depth information could potentially be huge for filmmakers, especially those doing extensive green screen work.
If the KaleidoCamera allows various depth cues to be removed from a shot, then it's entirely possible to be able to separate actors based on their distance from camera rather than through keying out a certain color. If that's the case, then green screens could become a thing of the past.
One of the biggest drawbacks at this moment is the fact that the device seems to be diminishing the visual quality of the image. In the video, it's mentioned that, at the moment, it's producing slightly less than full HD results. However, considering the fact that the KaleidoCamera is still in the early stages of development, it seems likely that image quality will get a boost as the product matures.
More in-depth information about the KaleidoCamera and how it works can be found in this scientific paper.
What do you guys think? Is the KaleidoCamera going to revolutionize photography or filmmaking? What other applications might this device be able to achieve? Let us know in the comments!