Light field cameras, or Plenoptic cameras, if you want to sound fancy, we do are pretty cool. Inside these cameras are many micro lenses that capture all the light wave information in frame. That means that the camera doesn’t need to focus on one spot before taking the photo, and becasue it has all the light information you can later digitally refocus the photo.
The company Lytro has developed a reasonably priced light field camera for the commercial market, but the technology has been around for at least 12 years. In 2008, Adobe developed a prototype camera that had 19 lenses and a good breakdown of how it works. This prototype had a “fly eye” kind of lens. For comparison, here is an artistic interpretation of what the inside of the Lytro camera looks like.
Lytro doesn’t say much on their website, and they don’t mention any downsides. With such complicated details being stored in a photo, the image resolution can be, at least for now, quite low.
Here is a very interesting and kinda long explanation of cameras and a way to convert your own point-and-shoot to a light field camera. Easily. This way uses a transparency placed in front of the camera sensor. Each tiny hole in the transparency senses the light difference in the sensor and and gets angular variation. That makes basic sense, but the complexities are, well, complex for a non-photographer.
What do you artists think about this technology, and the fact that in 2012 it will be in the market?
Do you think you can make magic? Or that it is being hyped for little reason? Would you make your own? Can you explain it all better than this?