Lytro introduced their light-field camera a little over 2 years ago, and if you haven't heard of it, the technology inside lets you change the focus point of your images after you've already taken the shot. Part hardware and part software, the tech has been steadily improving (with other companies like Toshiba getting in on the action). The company has now introduced a brand new version called Illum that is capable of much higher quality than the previous camera, and it also takes the shape of a more traditional DSLR/mirrorless camera for better usability. Besides the possibilities with still images, we've also got word that they are working on using the technology for video capture as well.
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5q8XdhBAZg
Here are some shots of the new design, which includes a large screen and non-interchangeable zoom lens:
Here are the specs of the new Illum (see more of the specs here):
- Light Field Resolution: 40 Megaray CMOS Sensor (previous version was 11 Megaray)
- 2D Printed Resolution: 4 Megapixels (previous version was a little over 1)
- 9.5 - 77.8 mm f/2.0 Constant Autofocus Lens (30 - 250mm -- 35mm equivalent)
- Crop Factor 3.19
- Macro Focus to 0 mm from lens front
- Articulated 480 x 800 4" Touchscreen
- Focal Plane Shutter/Fastest Shutter Speed: 1/4000 sec
- SD Card
- Live view and Playback with Light Field Refocus
- ISO compatible hot shoe with center pin sync manual and Lytro-TTL
- Tripod Socket Standard 1/4"-20
- Removable Li-Ion battery
- USB Micro USB 3.0
- Weight: 940 grams / 33.15 oz / 2.07 lbs
- Availability: July 2014
- Price: $1,600 or $1,500 with $250 Pre-Order Deposit
The camera also has a new "Lytro" button:
During image capture an interactive depth feedback display shows the relative focus of all objects in the frame, allowing composition in three dimensions. A real-time color-coded overlay of the live view lets you know which elements of the picture are within the re-focusable range.
If you want to mess with some photos taken with the Lytro camera:
Here is more about "Light Field" technology from a terrific article by The Verge:
Light-field photography has been discussed since the 1990s, beginning largely with three Stanford professors, Marc Levoy, Mark Horowitz, and Pat Hanrahan. (The term "light field" was first coined in 1936, and Gabriel Lippmann created something like a light-field camera in 1908, though he didn’t have a name for it.) Instead of measuring color and intensity of light as it hits a sensor in a camera, light-field cameras pass that light through a series of lenses (hundreds of thousands in Lytro’s case), which allows the camera to record the direction each ray of light is moving. Understanding light’s direction makes it possible to measure how far away the source of that light is. So where a traditional camera captures a 2D version of a scene, a light-field shot knows where everything in that scene actually is. A processor turns that data into a 3D model like any you’d see in a video game or special effect, and Lytro displays it as a photograph. It’s a little bit like the small bots in Prometheus, spatially mapping an entire room in order to display it back later. Or think of it as a rudimentary holodeck, projecting a simulated scene that changes as you move through and interact with it.
And where this technology is headed for video:
"If you look at a big-budget Hollywood production today, they’ll spend between 9 and 14 million dollars on just incremental hardware to shoot 3D, because you need multiple rigs. We can do all that in single-lens, single-sensor — that’s a big deal," Rosenthal says. "You look at the credits at the end of a movie and you see Camera Assistant 1, Camera Assistant 2, Camera Assistant 3… they’re doing focus pulls on set. If you can make that an after-the-fact decision, that’s a pretty big deal." Of course to achieve that in practice and not just theory, Lytro would need to make a camera that records video. But that’s on the roadmap: "That’s something that largely gets solved as computational power continues on its Moore’s law rate of increase." Processors double in speed every two years, Moore says; Lytro’s perfectly positioned to take advantage of every increase.
Now, even though the megapixels are still low compared to most cameras (when the Lytro pictures are made 2D), the purpose of this camera is really to create interactive pictures. The video above gives a pretty good idea of how these can be used in motion right now, by creating an effect that guides the viewer's eye through the picture with different focus points. As the resolution increases, we are going to see more and more applications for this kind of technology, especially as it relates to motion capture. Other companies are already working on their own light-field sensors, but we aren't too far off from this being a very real tool for filmmakers -- especially with companies like RED claiming to be working on similar technology.
Find out more about the camera and the tech, and pre-order one over on their website.
Link: Lytro Illum