Geeks and gadgeteers beware ! There is a new toy incoming. I hope to receive a Lytro light field camera next week. The special thing about a light field camera is, that images taken with it can be refocused after the exposure. That is right. Take an image of a person in front of a building. The person is sharp, the building unsharp. Tap (or click) on the building and this part of the image is sharp.
How does it work ? Well, you can have the long story and read the dissertation of Lytro’s CEO (they link to it from the Lytro pages) or try to understand my version.
A regular sensor on a camera captures the brightness for each pixel. The sensor counts the number of light rays hitting each pixel and spits out a value. Doing so with each pixel results in an image. In a light field camera, the direction of the light ray is also captured. In front of the sensor an array of microlenses is situated, which enables the camera to record the angle from which the light enters the camera. With this additional information the light field can be reconstructed, which enables the camera to refocus the image after capture. This is the step which I don’t understand (yet). Sensor, mirco lenses, directions, fine. But that final step on how this additional information enables one to refocus an image… magic or stuff.
Anyhow. Next week I will hopefully receive a Lytro (like the one shown above) and then, after the obligatory unboxing video (that is reeeeeaaally geeky, I know), I will review the camera and state my opinion about it.
In the meantime you can enjoy the image gallery on the Lytro pages and play around with those “living images” as they call it.