Lytro Light Field Camera first look with Ren Ng

Just four months after announcing its intention to transform photography, camera startup Lytro has announced its first product. The company's 'light field camera' may not look or work like anything currently on the market but, with an asking price starting at $399, it's clear that the company can conform to conventional expectations. Having given us an interview about the technology earlier this year, Founder and CEO Ren Ng was kind enough to show us the camera and give us an idea of what to expect.

Ng has developed the company from the research he conducted at Stanford University. He's understandably upbeat about the launch of his first product and - unusually for a researcher-turned-entrepreneur - has a polished, soundbite-friendly way of explaining it.

What does Camera 3.0 look like?

'We worked really hard to create an iconic design that really conveys the idea that this is "camera 3.0",' he says: 'We really wanted, in the industrial design, for form to follow function.' And, while we've not used it enough to say how functional its form is, the result is a device that, unlike many cameras, doesn't have any film-era roots to its design.

The camera itself is a square prism in shape, around 11cm (4.4") long and around 4cm (1.6") square. Around two thirds of its length is bare anodized aluminum, which houses a 35-280mm equivalent, constant F2 lens. The rest of its length is coated in a soft, light gray rubber, in which you'll find the camera's three physical controls - the power switch, a shutter button and a slider that you stroke to zoom the lens in and out. All other interaction with the camera is conducted via the small, 128x128 pixel square touch screen that covers the rear face of the device.

Two versions will be available - an 8Gb model that comes in gray ('Graphite') or blue ('Electric Blue') or a more expensive 'Red-Hot' 16Gb version ($499). The smaller versions will be able to record around 350 images, with the larger version finding space for nearer 750. The colorful aluminum and choice of capacities is immediately redolent of Apple products, and it's an association that presents itself at several points during our meeting.

What is a light field camera?

Just to recap, the Light Field Camera captures light rather differently than a conventional camera. It features an array of microlenses set a short distance in front of the sensor. Instead of focusing light down into a single pixel as they would in a conventional camera, these are designed to split the information across multiple pixels, depending on the angle from which they've arrived.

Ng takes up the point: 'The microlenses separate the rays of light just before it hits the sensor. It records that information so that it retains all the directional information. We can then imagine if the sensor was nearer or further back from the subject, which is effectively what focusing is, then re-calculate where those rays would have been projected to.'

This technique not only allows images to be recalculated with different focus points, it also means the lens of the camera doesn't need to be focused on a single point. And this has a great advantage for a point-and-shoot camera, Ng explains: 'We don't have to focus when you take the shot. There's no moving motors, which allows an instant shutter.'

Simple to the core

The point-and-shoot simplicity continues to the camera's interface, and again there's a hint of Apple about its simple touch-screen approach. Each time an image is taken, the camera animates its motion off to the left of the screen. So, without a hint from Dr. Ng, it seemed obvious that swiping from left to right would bring it back onto the screen (and it does). The rest of the interface is similarly straight forward - tapping a point on the screen refocuses an image, double-tapping zooms in, just as the images on the company's website do.

'Cameras are still really complex. Even simple ones have all sorts of modes and dials. We have two buttons, instant on and instant shutter - it's a device for capturing the moment, which is always fleeting,' he says.

Unlike most contemporary compacts, the battery and memory are built-in and not user replaceable - the camera both charges and connects via a micro USB connector. Upon connecting, the full light field images (analogous to Raw files) are then downloaded to your computer. The versions of the light field viewed on your computer contain all the information captured when you shot the image and allow focus to be pulled continuously from the back to the front of the image.

If you want to share your light field image, the software uploads a subset of the data to the company's website, where they're hosted. From here they can either then be viewed on the company's site or shared via sites such as Facebook (there's a direct upload to Facebook option but the original data is still being hosted on Lytro's servers). If this sounds worryingly like the more controlling side of Apple's business model, Ng has some positive points to make: 'a few years ago it would have been impossible to try to put out a new file format. Today with HTML 5 and Flash we can center the work in the right place - within the company. We'll write all the code so that other people can connect and view the images without having to download software.'

He's also completely candid that the company could see some benefit from this approach: 'We think people will see these images on Facebook and want to click through to our site to find out more about them. Every picture is an ambassador.'

All about the pictures

And Ng seems equally confident that people will be pleased with the images, despite the lower conventional resolution: 'It's very easy to get caught up in the specs of a device, but cameras are devices for taking pictures and sharing stories. We want to make the picture that is most meaningful. If people are sharing their images on Facebook, they're not using all those megapixels.'

'What are the qualitative elements of the device? The experience of taking the picture, the ease of use, the viewing experience. That's why we describe our camera with a different unit of capture -  not megapixels but megarays.'

Beyond this, Ng won't go into detail about the cameras' resolution, beyond saying that these initial 11 megaray files will be 'at least HD' (1080 vertical pixels).

Adding another dimension

Rather than dwelling on resolution, Ng is keen to highlight the 3D capabilities of the light field approach. Because the light field retains information about the direction from which light has arrived, it has inherently captured three dimensions of information. Although not supported at launch, Lytro is able to show demos of images where the initial viewpoint can be moved around. 'We can change the viewpoint,' he says: 'which is unique to capturing light fields. They're effectively digital holograms. We've actually had holograms made from light fields - this is what the directional information can do.'

'We capture one of the key cues humans use for the perception of depth - parallax.' The effect of recalculating the viewpoint is interesting - giving much the same effect as closing one eye then bobbing your head about. It certainly conveys a sense of depth in a very intuitive manner. Ng is clearly pretty proud of this: 'We can uniquely deliver 3D on a regular display without glasses, with a full parallax effect.'

And, he points out, because this just a different way of processing the light field data, it will be possible to present any images taken with the first cameras this way, once the software is complete (the company says the capability will be added in 2012).

Shaking up the photographic market?

Given the immense efforts made by vast companies such as Samsung and Panasonic to gain a foothold in the photographic market, it's hard to imagine a startup being able to make much headway, so it's interesting to hear Ng talk about how he sees his product: 'It's a disruptive technology. In the 1960s, people had their high quality cameras and great glass but that didn't stop people loving the immediacy of Polaroid. Now we have the iPhone - which is great for social, immediate photos. None of them are replacements for one another.'

Which raises an interesting point: how many people believed Apple had a chance of breaking into the well-established mobile phone market? And, while we wouldn't yet assume Lytro is going to experience that same level of success, we also wouldn't dismiss the company just because of its outsider status. The system still has some way to go to prove itself (we've yet to see production-standard images), but our first impressions are that it may well be able to capitalize on the huge levels of interest it has generated.

Comments

Total comments: 224
12
bibiki78
By bibiki78 (10 months ago)

its only for intelligence and industrial purpose .....need so much improvement for our daily photographyю

0 upvotes
Kawika Nui
By Kawika Nui (Feb 15, 2012)

Great product, if all you want to do is share your stuff on facebook and similar sites. And give the company total control of your images.
Can you transform with PhotoShop, etc.? Alter them artistically? Print them and hang them on the wall or in a gallery, or enter them in a show? The concept as described sounds very limited, and limiting.
Like Apple. In the 80s I bought an Apple to write a book. After 10 pages, the document refused to accept more characters. I contacted support, thinking something was wrong. I was informed that since "most people don't write more than 10 pages" Apple had decided that no one would be allowed to. The suggested solution was to write 30 ten-page documents and then print them out sequentially. Then years later came the Apple computer with no removable storage (i.e., no floppy drive or CD drive). I have never purchased another Apple product, and never will. There are other companies that don't dictate how the product will be used.

1 upvote
Enrique Duhalt
By Enrique Duhalt (Dec 14, 2011)

I'm just a regular guy who didn't get excited so much about photography until I see the first digital camera. It was a casio 10? with barely 320 x 160 resolution, but I had to buy it. Until then I've been an unprofesional fan of digital cameras.
I've taked a lot of pictures, just regular ones. A lot of out of focus, some "plain"
and eventually some decent pictures. Thanks to the technollogy I've been able to just retake the pictures I didn't liked, and in someways preserving a moment that maybe I just ruined with a film camera, and knowing it days after I taked the photo. I think this camera can helpme with my "focussing issues", the need for instant photos (not until the shutter decides to shoot). I'm really excited about this. And anybody knows what happens with the low light photos with this one?
How I said at the beginning... just a regular (and lazy) guy. :)

1 upvote
PerrimanSmythe
By PerrimanSmythe (Nov 29, 2011)

That looks soooo Apple.
The concept looks interesting technically (although they're not the ones who invented it, according to wikipedia), but that marketing garbage kills the idea in my eyes. Strange shape and controls, fixed memory and battery, the resolution is next to nothing, but WOW - it comes in different colors!

I'd wait for a couple of years and see if something more usable comes out of this.

5 upvotes
Tom Arto
By Tom Arto (Nov 17, 2011)

I've a feeling that Ren Ng's Facebook toy could suffer the same fate as Clive Sinclair's C5.

But don't we live in exciting times!

1 upvote
srimano
By srimano (Nov 12, 2011)

IMO, the key feature is "focus later". Out of a thousand pictures I take (with 10lb canon professional dslr and also point and shoot), there are hardly few 10 images that result in miss-focus.

Should I buy this Lytro point and shoot that gives me SD res images just for post refocusing??? That too, to be effective, the foreground and background needs to be distance apart..

Perhaps for a small segment of people who take pictures in haste, not worrying about framing or focusing... and you expect them to spend time and energy later processing large files???

I can't seem to understand who is the customer, what's the need of the customer, and the actual utility of this camera (when one needs to pay $400).

If there was an option to remove the microlens array and use the camera with f/2 lens and high res sensor, I'd def keep it in my pocket.

0 upvotes
Bratan
By Bratan (Dec 7, 2011)

You seemed to miss the point here. First of all this technology has amazing potential. Second, this camera is targeted at "iphone photographers" not pros like you. And there are more of them then us :). And as far as processing, it's done on their servers, it doesn't look like they even let you process it on your own computer. If you remove all macro lenses you essentially remove all technology behind light field capturing. It'll get better tho, hopefully in few years we'll be carrying 1 lb pro cameras that can do 10x more than current 10 lb monsters.

0 upvotes
srimano
By srimano (Dec 11, 2011)

I do agree with you that this technology has amazing potential (I myseff work partly in this area of science). I was only referring to this particular camera. I'd be happy to use this if it were to come packaged into an existing device, eg: iPhone. A separate camera solely for this purpose seems to me like a overhead -- all of this my own opinion. No offense.

0 upvotes
Jason The Saj
By Jason The Saj (Dec 16, 2011)

Okay SrImano,

You take a photo of a large crowd standing on a stairwell in poor lighting condition and make both the people in front and in back be in focus. Do so with the most expensive DSLR you can buy.

Guess what, the technology behind Lytro can do that. Think about it. This tech makes DOF potentially meaningless. All images are taken with the ability of a deep DOF, and any desire for a shallow DOF is applied through software.

0 upvotes
TNew
By TNew (Nov 9, 2011)

There is a revolution going on in aerial photography.

Just like this camera, aerial photography is going to software instead of optics.

Used in geography and geology, linear and planer surfaces can now be identified by pixel algorithms

Lytro could be THE game changer if it wanted to.

0 upvotes
mangar80
By mangar80 (Oct 26, 2011)

how many times we read about how new products/tecnologies are wrong and "will be always" wrong?

IMHO this is not an open-minded way of thinking,

we look the finger instead of the moon, obviously this is "not" a "camera". At the same time it's more, and less.

To say "it's a toy" is ridicolous. Can you imagine if someone in nikon or canon would like to be the developer of this "toy"?

the first tv was a bulky box with a small bn scope.
the first cellphone was bigger than a business case.
the first PC....
the first car...

start to think about the first plenographic hand camera. That's the right approach, maybe.

3 upvotes
ELLIOT P STERN
By ELLIOT P STERN (Oct 25, 2011)

I love technology and I think they have some great technology here, but as a photographer I am concerned that simply focusing on the front or the back of a subject is limiting and I would really be excited if I could apply a depth of field factor to have the middle as well as back in front to work with.]]
elliot

0 upvotes
kd4ttc
By kd4ttc (Oct 25, 2011)

You get anwhere along the focus axis you want. You can also process images to have changing depth of field without adjusting aperature.

0 upvotes
Akin Koksal
By Akin Koksal (Oct 24, 2011)

Lomographers, if left any, will love this. Instant shutter is great, bringing something new to the table deserves appreciation.

God, or Ng, knows where will the resolution be in 5 years, zoom range, macro capabilities, or 3D implementation outside lytro environment.

Well, wish him best of luck...

0 upvotes
Desert Cruiser
By Desert Cruiser (Oct 23, 2011)

Fantastic camera for replacing the blurry ones that reside in convenience stores, warehouses, department stores. After illegal activity you could focus on the area you want to see clearly. Security camera plus ------

4 upvotes
Le Kilt
By Le Kilt (Oct 22, 2011)

A fabulous idea and technology, but the marketing takes over where the resolution lacks. It has a 540x540 pixel resolution which can be double-clicked to magnify it to 1080x1080, ie Full HD vertical resolution at the cost of sharpness (so far we don't get to see a whole "HD" shot").

So it is marketed as a simple to use cool photo gadget for Facebook, which it undoubtedly is. At $400 or $500, up to you if you think it's worth it.

If you're looking for a camera where you can post-focus a 18-21 Mpixel photo, well, forget it.

11 mega-rays? yeah!

Comment edited 41 seconds after posting
1 upvote
princewolf
By princewolf (Oct 22, 2011)

I liked the idea. It's nice to be able to postpone the focus adjustment process, and this camera allows fast exposures by (somewhat) eliminating the need for auto focus. Of course, it does so at the expense of camera size. Check out all those optics in the cut out, and compare to the retractable lens of a P&S. Of course an 8x f2 lens across the zoom range is neat and somewhat justifies the size. However, the size must inevitably increase for more resolution. I think even a 5MP camera with this principle would be quite big. The imaging sensor can always be made better (more MP), in time. But the optics required to do the same trick with more resolution will be quite large. Another problem is file size. There will be need for keeping multiple times the size a single focus image would need. Still, it might work! The sad thing is after developing this innovative technology they gave it to an art designer who turned it into a freak. I want dials and knobs.

0 upvotes
Alex Akai
By Alex Akai (Oct 22, 2011)

Interesting concept but I see this as a niche product for experimenting. I don't think it will gain much traction with general public. Most of us take a picture and post it somewhere on the net or show to our friends (if you are not a professional) We don't have time to play with focus or whatever later....Personally I don't want to carry a brick in my pocket when I am travelling. A $200 Point and Shoot camera has better specs and more features than this. I will give up the ability of re-focus later any time.

0 upvotes
GCHYBA
By GCHYBA (Oct 21, 2011)

Very interesting concept.
Resoltion may be low, but what were the first digital cameras, 640x480 with a floppy disk?

But what about a flash, or is there no need?

0 upvotes
Chris7094
By Chris7094 (Oct 21, 2011)

The concept is definitely very interesting. The drawback I see in this approach is that a light field costs a lot more to store than a conventional image. The sensor has to provide a number of pixels now to cover both spatial and angular resolution.

Since the Lytro camera probably has a conventional sensor of no more than 18MP behind the microlens array, the final resolution of the image will probably be limited. I doubt it can be more than 1MP. This is probably the price to pay for the feature.

This said, I find it exciting that entrepreneurs are coming up with such new and original cameras.

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
kd4ttc
By kd4ttc (Oct 25, 2011)

You can read the Thesis at the lycos site. There is a microarray of lenses in front of the sensor, and image processing is used to determine where each ray is coming from. Focus is then calculated as needed, with options for increased depth of field or field shift. Limits will be diffraction for the microlens array, unless they move to a diffraction grating and adjust the software.

0 upvotes
luxborealis
By luxborealis (Oct 21, 2011)

Amazing technology - I am so looking forward to the full potential of this being realized. We are on the brink of an entirely new way of imaging - much closer to Star Trek and holodecks than we could have ever imagined a couple of years ago

0 upvotes
makofoto
By makofoto (Oct 21, 2011)

The camera seems very un-ergonomic! There should be SOME type of handle/grip to hold the camera by. Is there a provision for a Shade, both for the lens and for the display? Delkin to the rescue?

1 upvote
aaanouel
By aaanouel (Oct 21, 2011)

The article doesn't specify the resolution of the images nor if there's a limited DOF layers or if it is a continuos infinite focus line, or the size of the files for future bigger/decent resolution images.

A simple first approach drove me to that a typical 16Mp 2D shot, done using this technic could reach a modest 40Mb file size if only limited to 10 DOF steps (layers), but it would reach 400Mb image if there're 100 DOF layers, what about if it is a 4000p x 4000p (16Mp shot) x 4000 DOF levels (continuos focus)...? a 16 gigabytes file each shot? or there is a different file management/compression for it. Could anybody please clarify these questions?.

My conclusion is that it is just a curiosity that could be just funny for a while (and not for everybody), but for being really useful it will be necessary to get really bigger resolution while producing decent manageable file sizes.

Anyway, I think the future of photography can be here and/or even better: infinite DOF images.

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
1 upvote
kd4ttc
By kd4ttc (Oct 25, 2011)

8 GB = 350 shots implies 22 MB per image. I think you have more resolution then you expect because you don't have independent images that need saving. In a sense it is image compressed.

0 upvotes
Michael She
By Michael She (Oct 21, 2011)

Strange camera shape, no user replaceable battery / memory, no local, offline processing, I think this first batch of Lytro cameras maybe a niche product? Cool technology, but sounds like the execution maybe wrong?

2 upvotes
kd4ttc
By kd4ttc (Oct 25, 2011)

Yeah, that iPhone with no replaceable battery or memory came out a while ago. What were they thinking?!?!

0 upvotes
GeoffH
By GeoffH (Nov 17, 2011)

The battery may not be much of an issue, but what happens if you are just about out of memory and decide you need to take a few dozen photos? The small touchscreen interface doesn't lend itself to easy GUI control of deleting images. I give them an A for concept, and a C for execution.

0 upvotes
wutsurstyle
By wutsurstyle (Oct 20, 2011)

This would be great for macro focus stacking for uber DOF with tiny subjects! Plus no more waiting for a focus lock before your insect runs away. Much better innovation than the semi-translucent mirror by Sony..with no focusing required, I think only the electronics would be the limiting factor. 1000 fps full resolution anyone? jk =P

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Oct 21, 2011)

But focusing is required, especially at macro focal lengths...

The lightfield camera doesn't adjust focus over an infinite range, it adjusts DOF from that of the wide open lens up to that of the "decimated" lens.

The first prototype decimated the lens by 13.8. It took a 16mp medium format camera and let you adjust the DOF from the wide open f4 to approximately f32 (he never hit the theoretical limit of f55). Because it decimated by 13.8, the effective megapixels dropped by 13.8^2, or 192, so a 16mp camera produced a 0.08mp image. This is all from Ren Ng's doctoral dissertation.

The production camera has a P&S sized sensor, not medium format, and it's pretty easy to calculate the diffraction limit and the decimation factor. I get 4. The sensor size is an easy calculation, too. I get from 6.6 to 8mm, which means that the f2 lens has a DOF equivalent to a 35mm FF at f11. The decimated lens has DOF equivalent to f45. That's as accurately as it needs to focus f

3 upvotes
kd4ttc
By kd4ttc (Oct 25, 2011)

I think there is a mistake in your analysis. Looking at the images, they have a very nice bokeh. At f/45 everything would be in focus. That is very much not the case. The technology is in the sensor, so a simple closeup lens held on by duct tape should get you in very close. The options of macro photography with shiftable focus is awesome in concept!!!!

1 upvote
LENYAKIR
By LENYAKIR (Oct 25, 2011)

Only macro????

0 upvotes
kd4ttc
By kd4ttc (Oct 27, 2011)

Well, sure, there are possibilities beyond macro, but in the context of this thread the comment was made.

0 upvotes
jmmgarza
By jmmgarza (Oct 20, 2011)

... but how sharp are the pictures? So far, they look fuzzy to me.

1 upvote
aaanouel
By aaanouel (Oct 21, 2011)

That's the main question about it!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 9 minutes after posting
1 upvote
walfaro
By walfaro (Oct 20, 2011)

Amazing technology, hopefully in the future it will become part of other cameras. At this point is just a fun camera with 1080 px vertical- very small images...

0 upvotes
fransams
By fransams (Oct 20, 2011)

I will always focus on a 35-280mm f2 device.

0 upvotes
tlinn
By tlinn (Oct 20, 2011)

Can you imagine mating this with an underwater housing? I was snorkeling this summer and getting what I wanted in focus before it was gone was an exercise in futility. With the Lytro and its F/2 lens and zero shutter lag, it wouldn't even be an issue.

0 upvotes
HiRez
By HiRez (Oct 20, 2011)

I'm still skeptical about this whole thing (some of their terms smell of marketing-speak to me -- like "The Light Field Engine replaces the supercomputer..."), but it's definitely interesting. A true rethinking of a very old and entrenched technology, you have to give them credit for that. Whatever happens with this, I think it's really exciting to re-imagine what a camera is, this industry needs a shakeup. I'm not selling my D700 yet, but I'm going to keep a close eye on this technology, it definitely has revolutionary possibilities.

Can you also select the depth of field amount? That is, the amount of blur (simulating different apertures), instead of just changing the focus point? If the image maintains information to refocus across the spectrum, it seems like this should be possible.

If they could produce an f/1.4 or even f/1.2 "pro" model of this (which would probably require a larger lens and heavier body), it would get really interesting in terms of creative photography.

1 upvote
Kirppu
By Kirppu (Oct 20, 2011)

Very intresting and intruiging new technology. But the "square lens pipe" body desing doesn't convince me... could it be that I'm too old school. :)
Also is really physically possible to always get 'evertyhing' to focus with "constant F2 lens. "

0 upvotes
makofoto
By makofoto (Oct 20, 2011)

So what's the sensitivity of the sensor? Nice Fast Zoom!

What about using a flash?

0 upvotes
AnHund
By AnHund (Oct 20, 2011)

First of all this is amazing technology. Incredible that the prototype is already there.

But does anyone know if it is possible to select a specific focus point and then save the picture as jpeg?

0 upvotes
marcojffontes
By marcojffontes (Oct 20, 2011)

By the article you could tell that through the company's website you can make the selection and conversion certain image. You don't need to have a specific software to convert / open the images created by this camera great. But it would be great if when purchasing the camera it included the software to view or edit the images.

1 upvote
eriq smith
By eriq smith (Oct 21, 2011)

NO. There is no specific focus point, anywhere

NO, marco; you did NOT read the article. You can share, via a link, the image from their site to other sites (e.g. facebook) but it still requires their computer to put the images up

Although you might be able to convince some screen capture software to generate such a file; the other issue comes up that currently the images are less than 1 MP and they are talking about going to maybe a full Megapixel - would you seriously want that?

0 upvotes
Crankybob
By Crankybob (Oct 20, 2011)

Personally I make VERY few analog images any more...maybe 2 or 3 wall-hangers a year. But I share hundreds, perhaps thousands of photos with friends, family, and colleagues digitally. My iPad is has replaced a wallet for showing personal pictures. Having a dynamic image that can be manipulated, refocussed, and even change perspective??? Well that's brilliant.

As far as the image resolution; the Lytro seems barely adequate from a state of the art single-plane photography standpoint (a GoPro takes 5 mP images), but as the technology moves forward we will very quickly see image resolutions that rival lens resolution limits. The future of plenoptic cameras is assured IMHO, and the Lytro price-point is ideal for its capability. I'm in!

1 upvote
Andrew Roos
By Andrew Roos (Oct 20, 2011)

I suspect DPR is misinterpreting the "at least HD" statement. 720p is also an HD standard, and I suspect the Lytro camera will have an image resolution of around 960 x 720 (in other words, 720p vertical with a 4:3 aspect ratio) with an array of 4 x 4 pixels under each microlens, giving an 11.06 MP sensor "11 mega rays" in Lytra terms. (I can see four distinct focus zones in the posted Lytro pics, which may be related).

1 upvote
Najinsky
By Najinsky (Oct 20, 2011)

I considered 4 zones, but in some of the pictures I counted more than that, mainly the ones with a very close subject. Obviously it's all sheer speculation, but I assumed 4 would be given by 2 x 2, so I placed my bet on 3 x 3 giving data for 9 focus zones. You don't see 9 zones in each picture, but I put that down there being nothing in focus in some of the zones.

0 upvotes
snackwells
By snackwells (Oct 20, 2011)

Why do you think this device captures a 4:3 aspect ratio? Everything points to a square ratio.

0 upvotes
aaanouel
By aaanouel (Oct 21, 2011)

That's the main point of it!

0 upvotes
eriq smith
By eriq smith (Oct 21, 2011)

Had you ever been to their site, the images have a number of focus points (11 may be right) BUT are ALL less than 1 Megapixel - I believe they are all 525 pixels on a side

The notion of sharing microlenses is misleading, each pixel has it's own microlens that has a different focal point than any of it's neighbors so they are in a matrix

also misleading is the notion of a "light field" (although this works as a concept, the microlenses at varying focal points do add up to a field - in effect) - but the misleading part is the notion that you capture light direction information on a digital sensor - NO; but you can simulate it the same way the movies do when they rotate an image - not actually 3D but simulated

0 upvotes
NetMage
By NetMage (Oct 23, 2011)

Actually that is how Raytrix work, this is completely different. I am guessing 3x3 as well, but the Lytro uses a larger micro lens with multiple pixels beneath each lens (so the "micro" lens covers 9 pixels - which may need to be an even number to work well with Bayer (I don't see why they'd reinvent the demosaicing wheel) so 4x4 or 6x6 makes more sense).

Basically each microlens takes a picture of the lens aperture at a tiny 4x4? resolution which can then be mathematically converted to focus anywhere in the DOF produced by the aperture x 4 (so f/8). Using interpolation on the resultant images gives infinite (or at least pixel resolution) focus adjustability within that DOF.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Thomas Kachadurian
By Thomas Kachadurian (Oct 20, 2011)

It strikes me as the future of security cameras. Imagine, once the volume of data can be handled by a computer in a security system, imagine the possibilities that can get details out of anything in the scene to be determined later. I think artistic applications will come later.

1 upvote
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Oct 20, 2011)

Why would that be any better than a deep-focus wide-angle camera? That way, you'd have everything in focus and get more resolution. With a plenoptic, any defocus applied to one field or face might be suspect as "manipulation of evidence" and rejected by the court.

0 upvotes
micktinks
By micktinks (Oct 20, 2011)

It offers the advantage of calculating approximate depth and therefore being able to track a person or a car in 3D. This could of course be done with a stereo camera or combining multiple camera images.

0 upvotes
eriq smith
By eriq smith (Oct 21, 2011)

although the idea would seem to work, in practice the depth of field you can get with a good lens on a higher resolution camera would beat the extremely low 1 Megapixel image this develops (and they haven't even talked about light sensitivity)

0 upvotes
ChrisKramer1
By ChrisKramer1 (Oct 20, 2011)

I have a terrible, sneaking suspicion that these are going to catch on. You can never tell...

0 upvotes
Tonberry
By Tonberry (Oct 20, 2011)

I for one will be paying attention to these people. Really exciting tech. If only I had any money to invest in stocks...

But then again, it might just be another fancy fad like Photosynth...

0 upvotes
snackwells
By snackwells (Oct 20, 2011)

For posting to social media, an image size of 800x800 would be adequate, and that is probably in the neighborhood of what to expect from this device.

I think what will make or break it for this company will be determined by ultimately the image quality at this limited size.

The novelty of refocusing will wear off very fast. 99% of social snaps have a single plane of focus that is interesting (the plane that the subject resides), and refocusing away from this plane will be rather uninteresting.

Beyond this, the points of interest will be the quality of the final image exported as a jpg, or seen via lytro's flash based viewer, how it compares to a more conventional camera at its price point (in terms of quality), and how usable it is in terms of getting the image published on the intended target site.

Also, one other thing to consider is likely the inability to post process these images in any conventional sense, until tools are developed to handle 'megarays'.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
eriq smith
By eriq smith (Oct 21, 2011)

I think this will catch on when people understand that it IS a WEB BASED image that has a toy quality to it, not a camera - This is what some people are looking for; NOT a camera but an internet toy for playing with their friends

1 upvote
Najinsky
By Najinsky (Oct 20, 2011)

Just playing with the numbers, the images, and the above soundbites, I'm guessing each ray is getting split to 9 detectors (11 megarays giving 1080 HD could suggest 10 but given the square format I go with 9). This perhaps gives 9 fields of focus, and when you play with the images, you certainly get the feeling of switching between different focus zones rather than smooth refocussing. I guess more zones are possible through interpolation and I suspect that's what the 3D software they are working on is trying to do.

In this current incarnation, the appeal is the playing with the images to reveal hidden subject interactions. It's a high tech toy. At least for now.

Aside from where it might go in the far future, I think this has a lot more potential for video. Both in terms of current resolution and limited IQ (far objects have such small resolution, focus is almost irrelevant) but the ability to pan focus from subject to subject (after shooting) would definitely appeal to film makers.

3 upvotes
snackwells
By snackwells (Oct 20, 2011)

If you read carefully, implied is a "continuous" ability to move the plane of focus, and when you upload your lightfield image, you are uploading a subset of the data, which implies that you will send information at discrete planes of focus, which is probably why when you play with the available demo images via their flash tool, you only get certain "zones" of focus.

0 upvotes
jjlad
By jjlad (Oct 20, 2011)

all the focus zones remind me of the different layer and masks. I've been using in Photoshop to create DOF and Bokeh in images shot with a prosumer superzoom (fuji s100fs) Great cam but due to the small sensor the DOF and Bokeh leave a lot to be desired. When this thing gets to where this can shoot in low light and at 5 or more FPS with images that process in Lightroom ...I'll be interested. And these guys are so fast that might not take long!
The scary part is that if they make the leap to professional level imagery and processing ...they will turn the photographic world as we know it ...on it's ear!

0 upvotes
eriq smith
By eriq smith (Oct 21, 2011)

Is there anyone else who does NOT understand that image sensors (pixels) are NOT laid out in a square?

they are laid out (relative to the color filters that separate R-G-B) as in:

. . r b g
. g r b g
b g r b g ------- trying to get this to space right, the characters should slant

all colors are FALSE in that each pixel has 1 real color and "borrows" the other colors from the adjacent two sensors of that color (with the exception of the foveon sensor) - but the layout is NOT square, it is more a hexagon

Most of what I have seen are images significantly less than 1 MP with an ostensibly listed 12 MP sensor that makes for 11 (a number I have seen elsewhere) fields of focuses in a matrix

what they are doing is a software that merges these into a selectable depth of field and can make fake 3d and move perspective the same way the movies do now - by programming fakery

definitely toy

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 10 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Najinsky
By Najinsky (Oct 21, 2011)

Such arrogant tone is usually the reserve of one who knows, not a fellow speculator :-)

In answer to your question I'd start with DPR and Fuji as they both seem confused about the arrangement too.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujifilmf200exr/page2.asp

I chose 9 for it's numerical significance, given the prominence of squares. I have no idea if it's right, it's just speculation.

I did know how a bayer CFA works, but thanks for the recap, and I do appreciate the repeated attempts to get the spacing correct with proportion type, adds to the humour. Although I think it has some ways to go.

0 upvotes
NetMage
By NetMage (Oct 23, 2011)

Actually Bayer sensors are laid out on a checkerboard, and this system doesn't use multiple focal lengths lenses, but larger lenses that cover multiple pixels, and then processing to produce any focus point based on the array dimension times the original aperture, so a 4x4 means anywhere from f/2 to f/8 at the small sensor size (est. 5.5x crop means effective f/11 to f/32).

The inventor has also explained in the previous interview that web versions are compressed with reduced focal ability like tiny JPEG versus RAW images.

0 upvotes
Pshap
By Pshap (Oct 20, 2011)

This is going to be revolutionary! Its all about processing power and software which might not quite be there yet but who would doubt that it will be? The main thing is that it's not a photo, its preserving a scene where you are standing there, can walk forwards and back and and you can look at different things, just like your eyes constantly refocus in real life. The fact that you can freeze a view and post or print it as an image is completely secondary (if nice). Is there a market for this? Who wouldn't want one of these?! Whether this is the company/organisation to run with this who knows (business success is a comnplicated thing, the product only a piece of the puzzle, even if this one looks nicely designed) but with the idea out there someone is going to produce alot of something like this and we will all be eagerly awaiting each successive upgrade, me first in line!

1 upvote
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Oct 20, 2011)

Were you first in line to buy a 3D HDTV or a 3D camera? Why not?

If the thrill of novelty lasts a week, perhaps that is enough to recoup the $400 cost of a Lytro. That's perhaps the cost of a weekend budget getaway, a delux meal for four, a new smart phone, or installation of new brakes for the car. Which should get consumer priority?

0 upvotes
5inchfloppy
By 5inchfloppy (Oct 20, 2011)

Finally a camera that lets me concentrate on framing without worrying about focus. Isn't that what photography is about? Taking pictures of what you see (frame) so that you can show others what you see?

Haters gonna hate, and this is a great breakthrough (not the plenoptic tech, but the fact that they make this tech easily available).

This will indeed change photography as we know it. I want in!

2 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Oct 20, 2011)

Aren't most blurry shots due to slow shutter speed and motion of camera or subject? Go ahead and buy one. The first few shots may be exhilerating.

1 upvote
LarryK
By LarryK (Oct 20, 2011)

As far as I can tell most blurry shots are due to incompetence and misplaced artistic vision.

0 upvotes
Michael She
By Michael She (Oct 21, 2011)

Cy Cheze, no some cameras have horrible focusing systems... Lytro would save a lot of badly focused images! :-)

0 upvotes
eriq smith
By eriq smith (Oct 21, 2011)

1) in reality your eyes also have a set depth of field (you just adjust faster)

NO this isn't clear enough (less than 1MP) and NO this isn't photography - this is snapshots

Photography is the art of light and shadow and focus is a part of that

and NO this won't change photography (and please note that you can ONLY view your pictures via their software on the internet on their site)

NO this does NOT change slow shutter speeds nor motion of the camera or subject

Incompetence is undefined, therefore unanswerable, artistic vision is SUBJECTIVE

Michael - the problem is those images can only be viewed by lytro's software on their website and linked to it from another site (i.e. facebook)

0 upvotes
Michael She
By Michael She (Oct 21, 2011)

Eriq, I know the current implementation is flawed, I'm just saying the ability to adjust focus AFTER the fact is a huge boom for photographers. Setting DOF after taking a shot seems like a a good progression for photography... Not everything needs to be the way it is now to be considered photography.

0 upvotes
NetMage
By NetMage (Oct 23, 2011)

Nothing says you can't export 2D images and use them normally.

Also, the fact that it always shoots wide open at f/2 means it can use faster shutter speeds to freeze motion but still provide effective large DOF (much larger then just from small sensor size).

0 upvotes
kd4ttc
By kd4ttc (Oct 25, 2011)

Hey, regarding artistic vision, this is going to open up a new type of photography. Imagine a photograph that is displayed on a computer screen, where the photographer displays an image which cycles through a set sequence of focus points, perhaps in different parts of the image. Combine with pan and changing crop, and you have a single image that is played like a mini-movie.

0 upvotes
Adrian Harris
By Adrian Harris (Oct 20, 2011)

What a wonderful breakthrough, photography is about to change- for the first time in over 150 years.

0 upvotes
Ugo78
By Ugo78 (Oct 20, 2011)

And what about the colour? And 3D? Do not exceed with sensationalism...

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Mark Smith
By Mark Smith (Oct 20, 2011)

Colour and 3D have been around for over 100 years. What I think he means is that the conventional ideas are giving way to something new...

0 upvotes
Najinsky
By Najinsky (Oct 20, 2011)

Ng himself refers to it as 'disruptive' and cites Polaroid an iPhone due to the social interactivity (through immediate sharing). This is a different kind of interactivity and their focus is on creating interactive web based media, thus making their money through online revenue rather than the actual camera sales.

On the face of it, the resolution will always remain at 1/10th of the P&S market so it's appeal for creating hang on the wall printed pictures will be close to nil (that's assuming Ng lets you create a bitmap image for printing!)

If the resolution gets high enough, the refocussing could be a useful photographic tool (assuming you're allowed to have your files!), but don't forget, what you'll be refocussing is a fixed aperture (I'd guess f/13 equivalent). Selective DOF will have to be simulated.

0 upvotes
Guspaz
By Guspaz (Oct 20, 2011)

I think this will have a bigger impact on video than still photography. 10% of P&S resolution is about what you need for 1080p, good enough for low to medium budget (or TV) work, and 4K (needed for pro grade) isn't out of the question down the road (current sensors can hit the density, but nobody has tended to need a sensor of those densities at larger sizes).

Imagine, being able to shoot in 3D without bulky heavy cameras, and being able to make focal decisions in post much like an editor might choose which take to use in post? That's a whole lot of extra flexibility to give to filmmakers, and it could save time and money for amateur filmmakers who can save time setting up shots when they're under a lot of time pressure.

0 upvotes
eriq smith
By eriq smith (Oct 21, 2011)

not really a breakthrough, Canon has been doing tricks with microlenses and has figured out how to suck out the air from between the sensor and the microlenses; they have been using software to make a 1920 x 1080 pic from a 5615 x 3744 sensor; they have been using large computers to calculate 3d positions in movies; all this does is do all this together

People need to understand exactly what this is or you come up with the old saying that any technological achievement that is not understood becomes "magic" to the ignorant.

Guspaz - NO, this isn't for video (the processing required for this times the FPS of video is prohibitive and remember, so far this is less than 1KMP; HD video is 2 MP); NO it is not scalable to 4K, you would need a sensor 6 to 8 times the size

NO it doesn't shoot in 3D - it takes a variety of focuses at once by matrixing single focus microlenses over the sensor - the 3D is all calculated; NO you can not make focal decisions later (they are ALL in the file at once

0 upvotes
NetMage
By NetMage (Oct 23, 2011)

That is totally wrong and backwards - it takes a bunch of images for different positions for each pixel of the main lens aperture, all with the same focal length and same aperture. Using this nformation it is possible to compute real depth information, create holograms and refocus or change DOF.

0 upvotes
tosvus
By tosvus (Oct 26, 2011)

eriq, still, with the limitations at hand - I think the ideal USAGE would be for video. Someone else mentioned surveillance cameras for instance. No need to mix 3d into the discussion of course, but definitely, if it was capable (and I know it is a far way off from that) of shooting video, I would get it in a heartbeat. For facebook pictures? meh....

0 upvotes
OneShotOneClick
By OneShotOneClick (Oct 20, 2011)

Does anyone have well examiated the pics on Lytro's web site and noticed that thi camera....being a camera..works using the rule of 1/3 and 2/3 Depth Of Field?!?!?

YOU CAN'T REFOCUS AS YOU LIKE having always the same good result.

You can't focus the very first thing if You shot the picture pointing at the far last thing..
Go and try to refocus and You'll see what I mean.
So I ask...

IS IT A REAL LIGHTFIELD CAMERA?!?

0 upvotes
Najinsky
By Najinsky (Oct 20, 2011)

See comment above. I'm guessing it is simultaneously capturing 9 zones of focus, with the centre of each zone in focus and things away from the centre in partial focus. Certainly there are parts of the scene that can not be bought into clear focus, and it feels like you are selecting different focus zones via clicking the image.

0 upvotes
Guspaz
By Guspaz (Oct 20, 2011)

I think it's a tradeoff of number of focal zones versus resolution (smaller or larger microlenses, bigger means more focal zones but less samples, smaller means less focal zones but more samples). Alternatively, you could increase the number of focal zones or resolution by increasing sensor density, although there are tradeoffs there too (light sensitivity, noise, the usual)

We're looking at the very first product to use a new technology, and I've no doubt we're going to see improvements in the future. If we can make an 8 megapixel 1/2.5" sensor (area of 25mm), then we can make a 276 megapixel full frame sensor. The light sensitivity and noise characteristics would suck, but you could get a ton of focal zones with high resolution. I'm using an extreme case, but you get what I'm getting at, right?

0 upvotes
eriq smith
By eriq smith (Oct 21, 2011)

Guspaz - you are ignoring that the microlenses are 1) wider than the pixel and 2) GLASS and not as shrinkable as the sensor

No your analogy / math suck, you can make an 8MP 25mm or so sensor but only because it IS an 8MP 25mm sensor (there are connections, edges, etc. that do not count as part of the 25mm, that is only the sensed surface)

This isn't really a new technology but a variation of existing technologies which has a very limited use as it requires special software to see your pics which is only on their site

0 upvotes
NetMage
By NetMage (Oct 23, 2011)

Actually these microlens cover multiple (4x4? 6x6?) pixels and so are easy to make today - they just need smaller pixels behind them to produce the data.

Also, the number of pixels limits the total amount of refocusing, but not the number of focus zones, there is no such thing in this technology, and with interpolation you can refocus to any one-pixel limited depth.

0 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Oct 20, 2011)

"a device that, unlike many cameras, doesn't have any film-era roots to its design."

I'd buy it for that alone! At last, after how many years (?) someone has realised that there is NO FILM cannister to spool anymore, so you don't need the "flat square back with a perpendicular lens barrel sticking out the front" design any more.

If all those mirrorless CSC designers had only realised that, we might have had some pocketable CSC cameras.

Bravo Ng!

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Oct 20, 2011)

While I applaud this camera for adopting the intuitive, touch screen interface from smartphone cameras, digital cameras have so far followed the form factor of their film ancestors for good reason: the ergonomics work well.

0 upvotes
eriq smith
By eriq smith (Oct 21, 2011)

no film camera roots - except the lensesk, etc. etc

Seriously, this HAS been tried (look back at the early sony's, etc.) and NOBODY LIKED IT!

Cameras are the shape they are for a reason!

1) lens mounted middle so you do the least amount of vibration . moving the focal point (similarly notice that better CD and DVD players keep the player in the MIDDLE)

2) areas on both sides so your hands can hold it

DUH!

this is and always be a snapshot oriented TOY, not a real camera; and that is Ok because that is the market they are going for

And while they are taking orders now for 2012 delivery - it is Macintosh OS X 10.6 or better ONLY (no PC version yet)

0 upvotes
costinul_ala
By costinul_ala (Oct 21, 2011)

yeah right .... at Canon they have been scratching their head for years for this design ..... bad 5d! bad! bad d300! 128x128 pixel touch screen - Perfect!

1 upvote
cabgeo
By cabgeo (Oct 20, 2011)

Yeah the sensor most likely for all of us a joke but I still kind of dig it, think about the upshot with a big sensor. Seems like they could easily develop some software that could get the entire image in focus. The f2 is fast, I have a particular point and shoot that takes great photographs given enough light. A constant f2 should allow for sensor choices that work really well within a smaller range of light, IE sensors that need a lot of a lot. Recently I have been playing around with a Sigma DP1 and it such a pleasure to carry something so light with a relatively large sensor.

What a brilliant yet obvious idea to leverage the processing power of one's PC/Mac to create the image. No doubt it is a niche but thinking about mirrorless both CX and 4/3, designers are clearly trying to come up with smaller cameras, and small cameras are not a niche.

0 upvotes
GordonSaunders
By GordonSaunders (Oct 20, 2011)

Whatever the merits of the technology it's refreshing to see a camera which isn't shackled to the styling of a film camera. Most cameras don't use film and don't have mirrors so the format of film-era cameras can be discarded. The styling may be novel but it recognises the principle of form following function. Do the fans of DSLRs drive Model-T Fords? That's unlikely, but they want to use cameras which haven't changed shape since those days. Wake up, boys and look at how comfortable video cameras are to hold.

3 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Oct 20, 2011)

"Wake up, boys and look at how comfortable video cameras are to hold."
Spot on. I really wish they would do just that. Finally we could have a camera designed to be held in the hand, instead of designed to spool film out of a cannister, onto a take-up reel, and back again, over a flat pressure plate.

2 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Oct 20, 2011)

Once you've thrown out the viewfinder I suppose anything goes, but frankly taking stills with a camcorder-like grip doesn't sound like all that much fun.

0 upvotes
eriq smith
By eriq smith (Oct 21, 2011)

again, this has been tried before and failed miserably

There is a reason for the camera design we have and NO it has nothing to do with film. People want to hold a camera still in TWO hands, you want the lens in the center so it moves the least when you take pictures - center of movement is also the central focal point of the image )

Look at a Kodak DC50, sony mavica, fuji finepix s9500, agfa ephoto, sony / minolta dimage, fuji es-1, sony dsc 42, polaroid pdc; none had the two hand layout and all were failures because they did niot have the two hand layout

This isn't about the styling, you have to use this thing and as a point and shoot it will work but as a zoom it will fail - you don't have anything to hold onto while you zoom

TOY!

0 upvotes
boswelox
By boswelox (Oct 20, 2011)

Good for Dr Ng - I wish him well (or would, if I could pronounce his name!)

If this gets a foothold in the market,the means to store and manipulate your images will follow. If it works well enough, it will get third-party add-ons and converters - the geeks will fill the gaps!

I must say I love the idea of refocussing an image after it's been taken. And a shutter that works instantly...

0 upvotes
burnymeister
By burnymeister (Oct 20, 2011)

"Ng" is pronounced "Ing"... :D

0 upvotes
boswelox
By boswelox (Oct 20, 2011)

Thank you - I shall know what to say if I ever meet him, now!

2 upvotes
Flashback
By Flashback (Oct 20, 2011)

Maybe true focus-free photography is the next big thing for digital. I think this is just the start.

If the Nikon 1 can shoot 60fps, maybe we could have many different focused images on one shutter click.

1 upvote
maxhodges
By maxhodges (Oct 20, 2011)

Personally, I think there is no consumer market for such a product and the company is likely destined for bankruptcy. Current digital cameras and mobile phone cameras do a pretty good job of focusing, many are now outfitted with face recognition features, and their small sensors yield greater depth of field than DSLR cameras which means botched focus has less impact of the final image anyway.

If photographers cared enough about focusing, they will take an extra shot or two for safety and learn to use their camera's focus-lock features which allow them to manage most unusual cases quite well. (But I bet if you surveyed people you'd find a larger majority of consumer digital camera owners have never bothered to learned how to use focus-lock on their camera, which, if true, would indicate general satisfaction with their camera's native focus performance.)

0 upvotes
maxhodges
By maxhodges (Oct 20, 2011)

Unfortuantely for LYTRO, your run of the mill consumer just doesn't care enough about post production to fool about with re-focusing software before they upload their images to hipstamatic and facebook. Few people bother to do any post-production on their image at all, whether for color, contrast or sharpness.

The one situation where I think refocus imaging technology would be truly useful is in macro photography, where one could combining multiple images together of different focus to create a final image with more depth of field than possible with any single image. This technique is known as "focus stacking":
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focus_stacking

However this sort of macro photography is a very niche pursuit and the demand for such a dedicated camera would be small indeed.

0 upvotes
maxhodges
By maxhodges (Oct 20, 2011)

Finally, among the people who want this feature, I think few would be willing to pay $400 for it, especially when the camera itself is extremely very bare bones and lacks dozens of features commonplace in today's broad range of digital cameras.

0 upvotes
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (Oct 20, 2011)

@maxhodges the idea is that the viewer refocuses the image themselves, not the uploader.

0 upvotes
eriq smith
By eriq smith (Oct 21, 2011)

I think it has a market - those who want a nifty cool toy to play with on facebook

Think high school girls

and that is a pretty big market

0 upvotes
costinul_ala
By costinul_ala (Oct 21, 2011)

you can use a smartphone take a picture or two push a button and it's on FB. or ... you could buy a 400$ camera, take the shot, go to your Mac or buy a Mac refocus and upload to FB a perfectly focused 1MP picture ..... "a pretty big market"? no

0 upvotes
tosvus
By tosvus (Oct 26, 2011)

eriq, maybe they should shrink it down to the size of a lipstick - would definitely be a hit with the high-school girls then. ;)

0 upvotes
potpotdada
By potpotdada (Oct 20, 2011)

hmmm...

I am always reminded that photography is an art, and just like any other art, it should be done with passion...from the heart. And we show this through the compelling images we share, something in the image would perk the interest/emotion of the viewer.

"Paint" with whatever "brush" would work for you, shoot with what ever "fomat/tool" that will express your emotion and share it with your viewer.

2D, 3D and now this new concept of being able to focus after taking the shot...it is giving the shooter another way of expressing his art...another "brush"...

what ever satisfies your passion, it is best to follow it...

2 upvotes
Artistico
By Artistico (Oct 20, 2011)

So they are marketing it as a toy, almost, but toy cameras are in vogue these days, so why not indeed. When you can send your images off to be made into holograms, then I will start getting a bit interested.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Herbys
By Herbys (Oct 20, 2011)

Oh, come on! If Apple had released an iPhone with a 160x100 screen and a 50MHz CPU we would have been right to dismiss them even if they had all the niceties the iPhone had.
A 1MP camera with a tiny equivalent sensor won't cut it for anything other than specialized applications. When they can get to a practical equivalent of 5MP with a 1/2 inch-equivalent sensor they might have something with general appeal, but right now this is a gimmick with little practical use.

0 upvotes
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (Oct 20, 2011)

When was the last time you saw an image more than 1MP on facebook? This camera is designed for social media snappers so their friends can play pull-focus with photos, not for serious photographers.

0 upvotes
costinul_ala
By costinul_ala (Oct 21, 2011)

smartphones are for social media photos. not the 400$ camera ...

0 upvotes
tosvus
By tosvus (Oct 26, 2011)

I can't help but think this camera technology (or at least the current implementation) came out of two ideas:
1. This is cool (which it is)
2. We can viral market this by forcing everyone onto our site to watch the picture.

0 upvotes
HBowman
By HBowman (Oct 20, 2011)

A new SECT toy is born. Limited control, limited software, limited OS ... for limited people.

21 Century start good !

3 upvotes
Mark Smith
By Mark Smith (Oct 20, 2011)

Just like the original Kodak Brownie-what control did that have? Didn't stop people buying limited as they were ;-). I can see the facebook crowd liking this if it sells enough V2 might be interesting to photo geeks also.

0 upvotes
hahiran
By hahiran (Oct 20, 2011)

First, I can't believe all the haters here. I've not written anything on here for years because of this kind of pointless patter, but I can't help saying something about this camera.

This is absolutely a disruptive technology, and the speed at which Ren has brought a working product to market is nothing short of astonishing. And it's not just a working product, it's an incredibly elegant one. If complaining about new technology makes you feel better about the world, then by all means keep up the good work, but I'm buying one of these beauties and enjoying the future.

7 upvotes
Herbys
By Herbys (Oct 20, 2011)

Hahiran, can't you think for a moment that the complainers have a point? Are you telling me that this, even with extremely limited light sensitivity and a 1MP resolution is STILL disruptive? Disruptive of what?
It is cool technology, but it won't disrupt anything, at the very least for five years until they can have a photographic capability equivalent to that of a cheap point and shoot of five years ago.
Infinite focus is useless if all your pictures are grainy, pixelated and blurred due to movement. I don't hate them, I in fact admire them for their technical capability. But it is irrational to ignore all the practical limitations of their approach and consider them disruptive when, in practice, they will be an anecdote.

0 upvotes
Bilgy_no1
By Bilgy_no1 (Oct 20, 2011)

The first consumer digital cameras had only several 100k pixels and were dismissed with exactly the same argument: it is worse than what we have right now (i.e. film).

There's definitely some potential in this technology. Would be interesting to see it integrated in smartphone devices too.

0 upvotes
Zdman
By Zdman (Oct 20, 2011)

I too can't understand the hate. 1MP is plenty for web use and even small prints. In all those annoying slideshows and mails with attached JPG's I get the resolution rarely exceeds 500k.

If I think of all those pictures I took 20 years ago on film point and shoots that were out of focus (and not 1mp quality even when focused) this would have been a great help. You also had to go to all the trouble of taking the film in to be developed and people did that so I can easily see them taking time to publish one of these pictures using software. Its also F2 all the time and thats going to mean quicker exposures and less camera shake than you're average point and shoot (especially at the tely end). The people who come to this site are not the ones who will be buying this product.

0 upvotes
eriq smith
By eriq smith (Oct 21, 2011)

It's not hate; but a rejection of the hype.

NO this is not disruptive technology, it is just na application of existing technology - and a poor one at that.

Yes it will be good for all the high school girls who load up their facebook pages with music and pictures to have yet another toy - but toy it is; this is not a serious camera and has no pretenses to be except in the marketing and minds of the easily fooled; those who fail to read and understand what they are looking at

loose the hype, this is as useful as a $29.95 640 x 480 pendant camera; no this is not a serious camera and cameraphones have the market this thing goes into

1 upvote
BitFarmer
By BitFarmer (Oct 21, 2011)

I feel hate here too, eriq smith, your NOS sounds to me as Good saying us not to buy it.

I bought the first digital cam with screen in market, about 600$, 640x480 pixles, no focus, no flash, no nothing... but a first on is kind.

Sure it was a toy, a nice one, and sure you said NO then, but now you own a DSLR... I said yes, and i still own the first digital camera as we know in market, and i am proud of, and also have some really interesting shoots.

I would like to play first with it, to understand it, to use it, to play with the toy, i WONT wait a decade to have a lytro DSLR as you will.

0 upvotes
tosvus
By tosvus (Oct 26, 2011)

I like the concept, and I hope enough buy it to support evolving the technology - however, I won't be buying one until V2 at least. It needs to do at least 5-6 mpixel photos for that price (for facebook pictures, I use my 5 mpixel cameraphone). Alternatively, it would have to do video.

0 upvotes
puneetvikramsingh
By puneetvikramsingh (Oct 20, 2011)

its only for intelligence and industrial purpose .....need so much improvement for our daily photography ...

1 upvote
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