Changing Focus

Have you ever taken a picture and, having seen it afterward, wished you had focussed differently? If so, have I got a camera for you. Lytro recently announced a breakthrough in photography using light field technology. Uh, what’s light field technology? In simple terms (that’s the only terms I can understand), the light field is the amount of light travelling in every direction through every point in space at a given point in time. Huh? Okay, how’s this? Normal digital cameras combine all the light rays together to one amount of light. A light field camera records the colour, intensity and vector position of the light rays separately. Got that? Well, I’m not sure I do either but bear with me.

Using proprietary lenses, hardware and software, the Lytro folks give you the ability to adjust the focus – after you take the picture. How successful is it? Depending on what article you read, views range from “This has the potential to change the photography world” and “…the technology is absolutely amazing” to, in the same article, “…the first… demonstration of the device, is dubious evidence at best.”

To see for yourself, have a look at the picture gallery. Click on different parts of each picture to discover what this innovative technology offers. It is quite impressive.

For the geeks amongst you (okay, amongst us), here’s a YouTube video that explains how it works.

For the ϋber-geeks, here’s a link to the dissertation submitted to the department of computer science and the committee on graduate studies of Stanford University for the degree of doctor of philosophy, written by Ren Ng, Lytro’s CEO. Prior to delving into this, I wholeheartedly recommend a drive to the nearest Starbucks for as many double espressos as you can handle.

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