A company by the name of Lytro is certainly garnering quite a bit of attention. They claim to have put the finishing touches on a technology with the potential to completely revolutionize the photography industry. The Lytro camera — not yet on the market — will be the first camera to ever capture the entire light field of a photo.
The cameras on the market today require focusing on a specific point before taking a shot. Then, they capture the all the lighting for that focused area and count it as one source of light. Lytro defines the light field as “all of the light traveling in every direction in every dimension”. The Lytro camera can gather up all this light information, take the shot, and enable the user and even viewers of the photo to actually adjust the focus of the picture afterwards. There is nothing like this to date.
Light field technology is not only for adjusting the focus of a photo. It dramatically helps in other areas of photography, too. When the camera is able to gather the entire light field of a photo, this information helps take a great picture in low light areas without the need for a flash. For many years now, camera manufacturers have been slowly improving low light sensitivity of photos by using larger sensors to decrease noise. With the light field technology in play, lighting is no longer an issue.
The Lytro camera can also take sharp 3D photos. Granted, you will still need a 3D-compatible television to view them, but supposedly even without one, the third dimension is still slightly visible.
The founder and CEO Ren Ng explains his inspiration for all of this:
This journey started for me eight years ago when I was in the PhD program at Stanford University. I loved photography then as I do now, but I was frustrated and puzzled by the apparent limitations of cameras. For example, I remember trying to take photos of Mei-Ahn, the five-year-old daughter of a close friend, but because she was so full of life, it was nearly impossible to capture the fleeting moments of her smile or perfectly focus the light in her eyes.
So can Lytro really revolutionize photography with this incredible technology? I think it is more of an evolution. The issue is not many people realize that there is a flaw in cameras. Most are happy with the photos they are able to take with cameras today. Surely this is a breakthrough, but Lytro may need to do a bit of convincing and set the right price on their upcoming camera to make light field technology a must-have in photography.