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Just Posted: Lytro Light Field Camera review and video

By dpreview staff on Feb 29, 2012 at 22:33 GMT

Lytro has shipped its first Light Field Camera to a customer and we've had a chance to spend some time with one, to see what their experience is likely to be like. It's a totally unconventional camera that captures images that can be refocused after they're shot, so we haven't shot our usual, 2D test charts but we've tried to sum-up its technology and what it's like to shoot with.

Review video

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I own it
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Discuss in the forums

Comments

Total comments: 310
12
camera pics
By camera pics (Jun 7, 2012)

There is an alternative technology which was developed for mobile phone cameras.
It is high res and allows refocusing on Android. I have seen it live with amazing performance.
Its developed by a company called linximaging.
Maybe on the next iPhone or galaxy.

0 upvotes
Felix E Klee
By Felix E Klee (Mar 25, 2012)

In today's photography there seem to be basically two methods to control sense of depth in a 2D image: perspective and selective focus. However, there is another method which is often used in paintings and computer graphics: haze. Thereby I mean that objects that are further away fade to gray. Of course, haze may also be visible in a photograph, but it's not controllable. Perhaps until now!

Wouldn't it be possible to use the depth information captured by the Lytro to add artificial haze to an image, in a controlled manner?

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Apr 3, 2012)

that should be simple and straightforward. but they have and an 11Mpix sensor and can only produce a 1.2Mpix result. the objects sharp in focus are heavily hazed already.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 9, 2012)

> the reason why they decided not to go 3D
> could be that the effect is too weak.

should be able to do something about it in software. would like to see it in version two if they have money to burn. though that won't solve fundamental flaws in Lytro camera.

the 3- or 4-stop downgrade is only the sensor side. it has issues on the lens side, too. that the camera requires a larger lens than a normal camera. an analagy may be the phase detect AF (which can be called a super low res 3D camera). the aperture eclipse will cause problems so the sensor has to be made small before being wasted 10 fold.

0 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (Mar 4, 2012)

I've read the first page of comments and nobody is complaining about "blurring the intent by stretching the focus." I focus on what I want to be in focus because, yeah, that's the punch line. So she's got pretty eyes but do I want to offer her other parts to be focus-able as well? Probably not.

So okay you can separate the art from technology and claim it is not about, ehm, tits peeping, and all new tech then deserves to blaze its own phases and fields and quantum mechanical wavefunctions instantly collapsible yet recomputable under massive this or that micro aperture.

But if in the end you give me a choice of admiring the perfection of strawberries or a pretty woman or a bridge -- I take none, for none of these offer the context that makes it interesting.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 5, 2012)

So you want neither strawberries or pretty women.

That's ok.

But doesn't explain why you wouldn't want to be able to take sports photo and then do the focus for say just the tennis ball hitting the racket.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 8, 2012)

yes you can do it in everyday mode at so close a distance that the referee may halt the game to get you out.

the problem with Lytro camera is, while they tell you that you can refocus, you have to give out 90% of resolution and 9.5dB of SNR (more than 3 stops) first. what the hell a brilliant idea!

*: the lose of SNR can be partly regained later via software.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 8, 2012)

yabokkie:

Where are you getting these signal to noise numbers?

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 8, 2012)

if you have any knowledge to share then please say it.
if you don't, then just read my previous posts and some by others.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 8, 2012)

yabokkie:

Well, I read all but the last 10 pages of Ng’s Phd and there’s nothing inherently noisy about a light field camera.

Nor is the image somehow much much “darker” as someone claimed here.

I happen to think Lytro made a mistake shipping this camera with the fixed ISO of 800, that setting could account for some “noise” and banding in Lytro examples. But almost any sensor of these dimensions with 16MP would have noise at that ISO setting. (And anyhow, as you hinted at, that ISO problem can be fixed with a firmware update by Lytro.)

Consider that added.

You still have not answered the question of what makes you think this system is so particularly noisy and where you get the specific signal to noise ratio numbers.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 8, 2012)

I answered it already, that Lytro camera uses a bloody expensive way to catch a 3D image and uses that for refocusing a low resolution 2D image only (probably because they don't think 3D displays are popular enough).

ISO800 means little by itself. a 1:9 ratio is my assumption. someone said 1:16 below then 4-stops worse qualtiy. Lytro tries hard to hide things while persuading people they have something good.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 9, 2012)

yabokkie:

It aint a 3D image, you really aren't showing any real familiarity with this technology.

You're still confused about signal to noise too.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 9, 2012)

yes I agree it could be worse than I thought. actually the reason why they decided not to go 3D could be that the effect is too weak.

0 upvotes
ellaguru
By ellaguru (Mar 21, 2012)

yabokkie -- In the thesis the idea is that you actually get BETTER SNR with a plenoptic camera for the same depth of field, since to achieve the same depth you have to stop way down.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 4, 2012)

(1) we used to have digital cameras with resolutions as bad as old analog TVs. those cameras with poor image quality were sold for some other values they could provide. the most important I think is to communicate with people, that you can get it instantly and you can send it via Internet.

Lytro camera does provide some extra value, very little compared with digital and Polaroid cameras, totally different things.

(2) there is a similar way to do the same at high qualily which is known as AFB, that you fire a burst of shots while changing the focus.

Lytro camera is effectively a 1.2MP camera that can capture 9 AFB frames at once. the sensor used for that should be about 3240x3240 = 10.5MP.

they call it 11Mray but there cannot be 11Mrays. they need 9 pixels for one ray so 1.2Mrays, same resolution as the output.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 4, 2012)

yabokkie:

No, focus bracketing would not work for say a baseball player catching a ball, or a race car going past at speed.

Comment edited 43 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 4, 2012)

you are right. same problem for HDR. we do have cameras designed to take single-shot HDR (Fujifilm). the idea doesn't go popular, far less than HDR but it's understandable because the extra cost isn't too much, not 9 times.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 11 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Matt Yardley
By Matt Yardley (Mar 3, 2012)

I recall my first digital Camera an Olympus Camedia 1.3 Mega Pixel, with a smart media card. The focus time was slow, there was no optical zoom limited digital zoom, but the camera was adequate to print 4x6 snaps.

This light field digital camera is no different, it is pioneering a new field of technology it has to start small in order to develop. After all it is capturing light data from a cube of space not just one focal plane, the amount of of data captured and the mathamatical power to process all that data must be imense. The larger the plane of conventional resolution the larger the data stream and post processing requirements. This equates to mind boggling quantities of data.

0 upvotes
PatRM2
By PatRM2 (Mar 3, 2012)

I think this is fascinating and no doubt will go somewhere. My guess it will find its way to the NYPD surveillance people the next time there is a demonstration in NY. Will it make me want to buy one...no, probably not. When you start out with a Leica C and your heros are Henri Cartier-Bresson, Edward Weston, Steichen, it is hard to abandon substance for a lipstick tube. But, I think for many newbies taking pictures, and I say taking pictures, not photography, it will be wonderful. I'll stick with my Nikons and Canons.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 3, 2012)

But according to the New York Times, there aren't really the many demonstration in New York City.

See the Times' "reporting" on the 2003 preinvasion of Iraq demonstration or the 20,000 who gathered at City Hall to protest for real medical insurance reform in the USA (note the reform hasn't happened yet--despite what the NYTimes would claim.)

This is all just an ironic jab at the Times, not a claim that demonstrations don't happen in NYC.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 4, 2012)

search "Canon 120MP" APS-H sensor for surveillance.
currently the cameras are more resolution challenged.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 4, 2012)

each image a Lytro camera captures is 9 times darker (so it's really a "light demanding camera"). by simply stopping down your current camera 3 stops, you can gain a lot of DoF if that's what you want.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 4, 2012)

yabokkie:

No Lytro images are NOT nine times darker.

This Lytro camera is in fact pretty good in low light.

No, stopping down a lens does not give you the same result.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 4, 2012)

you got a deeper field at a much lower resolution, what's the point? anyone can instantly get 3 times "deeper field" by downsize the image to 1/3 resolution. you don't gain anything, only lose the resolution.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 4, 2012)

yabokkie:

You gain being able to fix focus after the fact, blur too.

0 upvotes
Dan
By Dan (Mar 5, 2012)

yabokkie, imagine being able to go back to out-of-focus images and refocus them onto what you want. Use a smaller aperture? Well, what if I don't want everything in the scene to be in focus? That IS one of the reasons I shoot a camera with a large sensor, to have a narrower depth-of-field.

0 upvotes
realityChecker
By realityChecker (Mar 5, 2012)

HowaboutRAW writes: "You gain being able to fix focus after the fact, blur too."

...because we really need your "cheesey - after the fact Gaussian blur" that uses a marquee'd area in the photo that's arbitrarily defined by your rudimentary contrast-sensing algorithm. Please, spare me now. I simply don't think photographers will fall for this feature that only YOU so highly covet. They'll want REAL optical DOF like the type shown in this picture from Canon's new 5D mkIII. Do your people simply not understand this simple fact of real optical blur?

http://web.canon.jp/imaging/eosd/samples/eos5dmk3/downloads/09.jpg

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 5, 2012)

realityChecker:

You still haven't bothered to read up on Lytro tech.

Is uses real optical focus and real optical blur. Ironic that the the principle of the Lytro camera is that it processes more information than is readily available to a normal camera's sensor or film plane. (To clarify, that's what you're refusing to do--process.)

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 5, 2012)

realityChecker

Nope. You're just wrong.

Lytro uses real optical focus and blur. Ironic that the Lytro works by picking apart discarded information, seeing how you've ignored information about the Lytro system.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 3, 2012)

LaFonte

> It is exactly the concept that looks good on paper but fails as a product, but their optimism is commendable.

often you show wisdom by not trying something. there are too many ways we can do stupid that we really can't exhaust them.

the idea is so old and is known by so many people who have the wisdom.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 3, 2012)

Give it 20 years.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 8, 2012)

give communists 200 years.

0 upvotes
Michael_13
By Michael_13 (Mar 2, 2012)

Just the right tool for "generation facebook":
No need to pay attention when taking the shot but still be able to check out all girls in the frame. ;-)

0 upvotes
chekist
By chekist (Mar 2, 2012)

It is worse than I thought.

I thought no focusing would be great, but actually camera focuses and very slowly according to the preview.

I thought full range of possible focus points would be great, but turns out there is only some range where you can refocus.

On top of that silly things like -no flash, poor LCD, no buttons - which are not technological challenges and there is no reason not to have.

I guess VC that backed the company wanted to see some revenue 'now,' this is why this early stage prototype made it into production.

2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 3, 2012)

It is simply incorrect to write, as you did, that this camera focuses slowing when shooting.

There is zero shutter lag too.

Complaining about not great execution of a $400 first release is silly.

Yes, I am sure about focus and shooting speed, I've handled Lytro. (Nor do I want to hear a peep that you were talking about buffer speed.)

Given how much a decent digital camera cost 10 years ago, this is amazing for very new and promising technology.

1 upvote
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 3, 2012)

The review says that focus is slow for Creative mode. In everyday mode, the lens prefocused as you zoom but then zoom range is limited to only 3.5x. BTW, you can get the same zero shutter lag with any compact that supports a hyperfocal focus setting (but you don't get selective focus that way.)

If the $400-$500 first release is poorly executed and thus sells poorly then there may not be a second or third release. Right now it's a novelty camera priced like a high-end compact.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 4, 2012)

Erik Magnuson:

3.5x of what?

The sample that I played with did not spend any time focusing.

I have never seen a P&S with this zero shutter lag, even with autofocus turned off. And I've tried a good number.

Imagine a Nikon D3s, with autofocus off.

A good number of poorly executed digital cameras were released between 25 and 12 years ago. Look what happened.

High-compacts are not novelties.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 4, 2012)

43-150mm equiv in Everyday mode. To get the 43-340mm you have to be in the slow focusing Creative mode.

Yes, in Everyday mode the focus is always set when you zoom (and thus focus time is hidden in zoom time.) It sounds like you did not use Creative mode where you do need to refocus.

My Fuji MX-1200 from 2000 has essentially immeasurable shutter lag when using the VF. And if you turn off the flash, it's also almost instant startup. That was a $200 1.3MP camera twelve years ago. The Casio Z40 and Sony DSC-90 are also immediate in fixed focus mode and using the VF. (A D3s has to get the mirror out of the way and stop down the lens. Compacts use a combined aperture/shutter and no mirror.)

Digital cameras survived expensive infancy because there were immediate, tangible uses: instant photos already in computer format.

Exactly: four to five hundred buck is too much for a novelty camera.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 4, 2012)

Erik Magnuson:

And what's wrong with 43mm to 150mm equivalent? Many cameras have some limitation in a special mode, and this mode is not real desirable. In other words who cares, particularly on a first release?

This Lytro is faster to shoot than 12 year old P&S cameras.

No, Sony and Apply both withdrew digital still cameras from the market--20 to 25 years ago. Yep it's true.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 5, 2012)

> And what's wrong with 43mm to 150mm equivalent?

You need to convince the consumer that what he's getting for his money is worth it. 3x zoom and limited resolution for $400 was ten years ago. It also shows the optical limitations of LFC at the current level of decimation.

> This Lytro is faster to shoot than 12 year old P&S cameras.

If you take AF out of the process, then both Lytro and a compact have to do the exact same task: measure light, reset the sensor, and trip the shutter. Except for any difference in 12 years of electronic progress, that takes the same amount of time.

Are you suggesting Lytro will need to withdraw from the market at least once before LFC will become mainstream? (BTW, 25 years ago cameras were electronic but not digital aka still video cameras.)

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 5, 2012)

Erik-

Quote:

"Are you suggesting Lytro will need to withdraw from the market at least once before LFC will become mainstream? (BTW, 25 years ago cameras were electronic but not digital aka still video cameras.)"

Yes, and Lytro may not be in the game in 25 years--too.

No, Sony really did ship a digi still cam in about 1987--not video.

0 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 6, 2012)

Sony DSC in 1987? Which model? All of the contemporary Mavicas will still video cameras.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 6, 2012)

Erik Magnuson--

I may have been wrong about the Sony, but check the Wikipedia entry for "history of digital camera" and you'll find unheard of CCD digi cams from the late 1980s and very very early 1990s.

Still not sure this wiki history is complete--I believe Apple also shipped something in about 1991.

So still yes, Lytro may not be the final word on this gear--it's not a Lytro invention--at all.

I happen to think Lytro went stupidly cheap--this first intro should have had higher resolution, a removable battery, removable flash memory, filter threads, ISO control, upon release a Windows version of the software, a tripod mount, a different zoom control mechanism and possibly video--maybe just 30 second clips, and video software included.

I understand why Lytro did the $400 version, but it really should have been a $900 version.

It's shortcomings mean that people genuinely interested in digital photography will skip it, unless $400 is the like the price of a cup of coffee.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
adski
By adski (Mar 2, 2012)

Interesting concept, and nice to see people are still thinking out of the box in a field that could easily be considered 'wrapped up'.

I'm not overly convinced about the long-term value of the camera in this form, but the science is quite fun. Be good to see what they can achieve when they have more resources - for that alone, I hope it does well.

2 upvotes
Picturenaut
By Picturenaut (Mar 2, 2012)

I'm not surprised that the first commercial consumer lightfield camera has many drawbacks. Its resolution maybe poor but this new way of photography requires really a screen for full function, not a high quality poster print. Anyway, a Lytro is a toy, I think, but a great one to have - photography is a lot of playing around, isn't it?

The Lytro is the first consumer level representative for a completely new era of digital photography! In future for video, too, research is going on on that. And when the technology will have improved you can really keep it as a funny First in your collection of vintage cameras. I currently try to get one, even it is not so easy from Europe (can't order it from here). Hope it'll work. If I want great high quality pics I'll still shoot with my conventional DSLRs, of course.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Mar 2, 2012)

Their software is buggy. Click on left or right side of the third camera and it focuses on the second camera instead.

0 upvotes
Picturenaut
By Picturenaut (Mar 2, 2012)

visit http://www.lytro.com/living-pictures#living-pictures/289?&_suid=700

there are many sample pics that work nicely.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Mar 2, 2012)

It's not a great idea to trade valuable pixels for variable focus. There are far better uses for them.

0 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Mar 2, 2012)

There are different goals. If your goal is printing large sharp images, then its a bad idea - yes. But - if you want to make a camera that can focus after the fact?

0 upvotes
JadedGamer
By JadedGamer (Mar 2, 2012)

There are always tradeoffs. I love that my Casio can take 1200 FPS video, but the tradeoff is that each frame is trimmed vertically because only a subsection of the sensor is read.

1 upvote
Jeff Peterman
By Jeff Peterman (Mar 1, 2012)

It is certainly a cool idea. BUT, I think the hurdles involved in producing something that can produce images of high quality/decent resolution are huge. Maybe we'll see something more than a toy in about 5 years. (Anyone remember all the hype about Foveon sensors that still haven't reached their "potential" after ten years.)

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Have you tried a Sigma SD15 or SD1 below 400ASA? Doesn't sound like you have. Include the DP camera on you list to try.

0 upvotes
Jeff Peterman
By Jeff Peterman (Mar 2, 2012)

I'm not saying that the Foveon technology doesn't work, just that it has limitations that keep it out of the main stream. I can see the Lytro unit becoming another niche device - assuming they can bump up the resolution.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 2, 2012)

Jeff Peterman:

Well one "limitation" is that Sigma bought Foveon. Imagine Canon licensing the sensor tech.

Adobe is beginning to work with Sigma/Foveon raw files--a big help.

There are internet rumors of other camera makers working on building 3 layer chips.

0 upvotes
AnHund
By AnHund (Mar 1, 2012)

One thing is crazy, they made the application for Mac so far.

1 upvote
closeupfanatic
By closeupfanatic (Mar 1, 2012)

The current Lytro uses mask technology and a 16 pixel-per-pinhole array which is why the huge lens. Figure out how to make microlenses of the required quality to replace the mask and the sensitivity goes up as much as 16x.

But, the real magic of the approach will come with a macro version, which can allow focus stacking with zero edge artifacts since the entire exposure is taken from one optical plane. Non-macro stacking could be done with the existing camera - all it needs is software.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Can you source this "mask" claim?

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 4, 2012)

I thought it was 3x3.

I think the ultimate solution should be video, that computers will generate a 3D model from a video, the quality depends on the video, and you can even change view and lighting just like a computer game. all it needs is huge processing power.

0 upvotes
DaveMarx
By DaveMarx (Mar 1, 2012)

While the technology is not quite there yet, it seems to have the potential to eliminate costly manual- and auto-focus mechanisms. Get rid of that, and zoom design probably gets easier and cheaper, too. Couple that with electronic shutters, high quality EVFs, and we've essentially said good-bye to moving mechanical systems in cameras. That, rather than creative control, could turn out to be the killer side of the app.

There's a race to build faster and faster auto focus systems, to reduce shutter lag to an absolute minimum... Get rid of motors and other mechanics, and the job has gotten a whole lot easier.

On the movie set, if Focus Pullers and some of the careful measurement of lens-to-subject distances can be reduced (and transferred to post production, when there aren't hundreds of people standing around "on the clock"), there's real money to be saved.

So basically, follow the money, not the creative options.

1 upvote
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 1, 2012)

It doesn't (yet) eliminate costly focus mechanisms. If you read the description of "Everyday" mode, it sounds like focus is adjusted to the hyperfocal distance as you zoom. In "Creative" mode, you still need to focus. If you watch the videos, you are supposed to focus somewhere in the middle of your subject i.e., position the camera/focus so that the foreground is somewhat fuzzy. The review notes the increased time for Creative mode.

1 upvote
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Mar 2, 2012)

Is this for the Nokia 808 news? Hehe. They got rid of the mechanical things on that phone. It is fixed lens and fixed aperture. Focus can be set to hyperfocal or infinity.

0 upvotes
DaveMarx
By DaveMarx (Mar 2, 2012)

Yes, Erik, not yet. We read the same review. I'm not thinking about firmware v. 1.02, more like v. 5.0, or 10.63. But considering the potential benefits, I'm sure it's already in more than one R&D budget. It definitely does not seem unattainable...

"Open the pod bay doors, Siri."

1 upvote
Edmond Leung
By Edmond Leung (Mar 2, 2012)

I feel the future of this innovation is positive. Still photography is just one of the many areas that we can apply this innovation. Movie making, surveillance and distance measurement, court evidence, replacing 3ccds, marketing tools, presentations.... and many others.
But new technology is short-life, if they don't speed-up their process in making returns for their investments, I'm doubt how long the people still feel interest in this.

0 upvotes
OneGuy
By OneGuy (Mar 4, 2012)

A hybrid could be useful as well.

0 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 1, 2012)

Lytro video vs. dpr screen shots: either the Lytro videos linked in the review use a simulated display that's much, much better than the real one or dpreview's images of the rear LCD output are rather poor.

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Mar 6, 2012)

Doesn't it say that they're simulated, in the Lytro video?

0 upvotes
powerbook duo
By powerbook duo (Mar 1, 2012)

I remember a time when quicktime VR was all the rage, you can pan, tilt and zoom a scene, I hardly see any websites still using such technology today

1 upvote
Surefoot
By Surefoot (Mar 1, 2012)

Google Street View ?
All those panoramic shot websites (lots of them), including extreme sports ones ?
Almost every hotel website, and a lot of real estate agents too ?
I still see that around a lot, actually its more neatly integrated nowadays.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Mar 1, 2012)

Light field + super hi-res sensor a la Nokia 808 + SONY fab + iPhone interface = good consumer P&S.

1 upvote
Michael Long
By Michael Long (Mar 1, 2012)

Read the guy’s thesis last night. In it, there was one estimate that using a 35mm full-frame 112MP sensor you could extract a 2k x 2k image. More and you started running into diffraction issues.

That’s an effective 4MP out of 112MP (roughly a 200MB file), and that’s an awful lot of extra data to get a refocusing trick.

Cool, yes. Practical for consumers?

2 upvotes
powerbook duo
By powerbook duo (Mar 1, 2012)

those extra pixels are better used for something like HDR, if the camera already interpolates data from multiple pixels, imagine under/over exposing some of the pixels would give pretty good dynamic range without multiple exposure

1 upvote
Michael Long
By Michael Long (Mar 1, 2012)

@ powerbook duo : Huh. I wonder what the net effect would be if you covered, say, 1/4 or 1/3 of a camera's image sensors with a 1-2 stop ND filter? Could you extrapolate and get single-shot HDR?

1 upvote
OlavM
By OlavM (Mar 1, 2012)

Don'y worry about using too many mega- (or terra-) bytes ! The "byte-cost" is always lowering, by increasing demand !
Give it some years, then a tera-pixel sensor can do things NO kind of optics ever will be able to, and do it cheaply, by this almost unbelievable new technology !
Keep visions alive, man !
Example:
In the late -70's, I worked with an "IBM System32" having approx. 0,013 Mbyte, or 13k RAM (yes, thirteen Kilobytes, or 13000 bytes RAM) and a 5Mb hard-drive. Nevertheless, this computer could run "heavy" applications, like invoicing, salaries, general ledger and so on, for a fish-exporting company of 35-40 employees. So don't worry about using many Mb (or Tb) to perform seemingly simple tasks ! That's what ALL computing is about today, superior technology and flexibility, by seemingly: "Overkill" !

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Michael Long:

Got a page number in the thesis for that 112MB sensor claim?

0 upvotes
ellaguru
By ellaguru (Mar 21, 2012)

Page 52. The point of that section was to show that the microlens size allows one to trade between spatial resolution and "focus" resolution. In his example, smaller focus resolution can be obtained with 8 MP spatial.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 1, 2012)

this is a very old idea to capture 3D image and is taught in schools but people have to be really mad to bring such a useless thing to the market.

1080x1080 is huge resolution for this kind of camera though.

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 1, 2012)

The difference is that Ng has come up with the methods and the salesmanship to make light-field photography into a consumer product. 1080x1080 is the output size - I'm still wondering what the "resolution" might be (and if it varies with distance.)

1 upvote
LaFonte
By LaFonte (Mar 1, 2012)

You have to give them credit for trying. It is exactly the concept that looks good on paper but fails as a product, but their optimism is commendable.
I think as a standalone device it is useless, but probably it could be pretty good for mobile phones as a way to cut the cost as an integrated solution.

0 upvotes
JadedGamer
By JadedGamer (Mar 2, 2012)

It's a big difference between some dusty academics pondering their "old idea" in "schools" and someone that actually steps out into the blazing sun outside and make a product.

Now it becomes a question if Lytro is a Xerox or an Apple, i.e. if they are going to be the inventor of clunkiness or the company that turns the tech into something usable.

0 upvotes
Michael_13
By Michael_13 (Mar 2, 2012)

This not a 3D camera.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 3, 2012)

> I'm still wondering what the "resolution" might be

yes Lytro has a foundamental problem in marketing. the optics and components are basically all the same and there is nothing special but they can't say it or their product will taste flat and look poor.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Mar 3, 2012)

Michael_13,
it's effectively a 3D camera made to output a series of 2D images only. it should not be difficult to produce a 3D image on your TV. straight forward thing.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 4, 2012)

JadedGamer:

Xerox tech is the basis of Macs, the iPhone, and Window.

Irony that you picked that example.

That Xerox was stupid and gave away the GUI is a different story.

0 upvotes
JadedGamer
By JadedGamer (Mar 11, 2012)

Not ironic, intentional. Inventing something does not mean you win; if someone else can take your idea and make it better you may even lose. Otherwise we would still be using Wordstar and Visicalc.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Mar 1, 2012)

It does appear to be a solution looking for a problem so I'm not giving up my Fotron just yet. But if it can be turned into a really good pinhole camera with not selective, but unlimited, depth of field at all distances and high quality output it would be the obvious choice for unattended uses like surveillance.

2 upvotes
Edmond Leung
By Edmond Leung (Mar 1, 2012)

I think this technology can be further enhanced so that it may be useful for surveillance and distance measurement purposes. Besides, it may be useful for the motion picture industries... think about the director can realize a number of effects that cannot be achieved by the current available instruments.

0 upvotes
jonikon
By jonikon (Mar 1, 2012)

The Lytro camera looks like another one of those "Gee-Whiz" products that has interesting technology, but will never make it as a viable consumer product. Some things are best left as only imaginings in an inventor's mind, and the Lytro camera appears to be one of those.
-Jon

2 upvotes
deniz erdem
By deniz erdem (Mar 1, 2012)

this camera captures a field of image instead of a 2d plane, than turns it into a file that can output different planes of the captured field as far as i understand. right? doesnt that mean it should also be able to manipulate different planes of the image independent of each other? for example, wouldnt it be possible to artificially blur one plane of the image while keeping the other plane sharp? that would create superb bokeh without relying on the optics or the size of the sensor. please correct me if im mistaken.

0 upvotes
infosky
By infosky (Mar 1, 2012)

I think not. This is not a tomography. The information recorded on the sensor does not care where the ray is originated. Therefore, it can not selectively blur the image according to its original position.

0 upvotes
AlanG
By AlanG (Mar 1, 2012)

I think that is exactly what it could do with suitable software. You could shift the planes of focus just as with a view camera. Or even have two intersecting planes in focus and nothing else. (Within the range of focus of the lens as the microlens/lightfield design provides the equivalent to several extra stops of depth of field from a fast lens.)

Future developments of this technology and software should make it more useful as a creative tool. But this camera is certainly not doing much with it yet. Targeting the p&s market seems kind of pointless considering what cell phones and cheap cameras can already do.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 1, 2012)

@infosky, think of it like this: apply focus stacking techniques to the series of images produced for different planes. For example, you could combine the closest planes with the farthest planes yet leave the middle ground OOF.

0 upvotes
Michael Long
By Michael Long (Mar 1, 2012)

In his paper he demos a way to effectively have everything sharp. I'm not sure if the math lets you go the other way and get a DOF less than that actually captured.

0 upvotes
Anastigmat
By Anastigmat (Mar 1, 2012)

great spy camera for photographing dangerous subjects. Will also be good as security camera.

0 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 1, 2012)

"Good as a security camera", how so? Security cameras do not need artistic selective focus, they need everything in focus. The 10x loss in resolution alone for the same bandwidth would be prohibitive.

3 upvotes
infosky
By infosky (Mar 1, 2012)

I agree with Erik M. For security camera, you don't have form factor limitation. One should use large focal lens and large sensor with high pixel count, while maintaining high F/#. It will get everything in focus with high sensitivity.

0 upvotes
Eric Fossum
By Eric Fossum (Mar 1, 2012)

Fad or no fad it is improved job security for image sensor technologists!
Kind review article DPR. I hope Ren Ng's dream comes true.

1 upvote
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (Mar 1, 2012)

I appreciate the gimmick aspect of this. It actually is pretty cool. But when did it become so difficult to select a spot to focus on? Especially since we now have auto-focus, that can easily be overridden if you prefer some other focus point.

In the past 50 years I have never once "wished I had focused on something else." Is this a real problem for anyone, or is this just another cool gimmick to play with?

I think this is the Nimslo 3D camera of the new millennium.

Interesting technology.... very cool gimmick... but after they sell a few, and people get bored with "re-changing the focus points" you will find Lycos cameras selling at thrift shops for $3 each.

2 upvotes
Jim Salvas
By Jim Salvas (Mar 1, 2012)

I immediately thought of the Nimslo, too. I still have one of those gathering dust in the basement.

0 upvotes
Edmond Leung
By Edmond Leung (Mar 1, 2012)

Interesting. But still a long way to go.
I'm thinking if this technology can be used to replace the dichroic filters... Use a single ccd to replace 3 ccds... a true RGB signal from a single ccd.... just a thought.

0 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 1, 2012)

One, Foveon actually exists and there are patents by a number of other camera companies for similar multi-layer sensors. Secondly, what would you gain vs. super-sampling with a current mosaic ala the new Nokia?

1 upvote
Edmond Leung
By Edmond Leung (Mar 2, 2012)

Foveon's layered sensor created complexity in circuit design and increased the production cost. Moreover, due to the multi-layer design, the sensitivity of individual layers is lower than the Bayer filter image sensor.
Bayer filter image sensor is a matured product with comparatively low production cost, however, the mosaic filter created another problem to the Bayer filter image sensor. My thinking is a kind of solution to generate a true RGB signal from a single ccd with the quality of 3 ccds but with low production cost.
Regarding the new Nokia 40+MP sensor, the problem is it still creating false RGB signals by applying the Bayer filter methology.

0 upvotes
Dmitri Alexander
By Dmitri Alexander (Mar 1, 2012)

“Light field" technology seems like a needlessly complex way to achieve the goal of selective focus after taking a shot. As the review correctly states, “in a small-sensor conventional camera, you tend to get depth-of-field that stretches from near the camera, out to infinity.” Given that, a camera maker should simply develop user-friendly, in-camera firmware that allows you to selectively defocus everything in the image except what you want to be sharp. In other words, synthetic bokeh. Could that be so hard to invent?

0 upvotes
thanos
By thanos (Mar 1, 2012)

SONY is working toward this with their new compacts. They call it "Background Defocus". Needs some improvement though.

0 upvotes
Stephen123
By Stephen123 (Mar 1, 2012)

To do that, you need to store the depth information with the image. Otherwise you're not actually selectively defocusing, you're just selecting a region of the image and blurring it. That's just standard Photoshop. So what you're suggesting seems to be a small sensor image with the depth information stored with the image. That's exactly what the Lytro is.

1 upvote
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 1, 2012)

You could get some depth information from multiple AF sensors where the focus aperture is different from the taking aperture and/or the changes during the focus operation. This may be enough to do a credible job for most artistic photographic purposes.

0 upvotes
Michael Long
By Michael Long (Mar 1, 2012)

Samsung just announced a new sensor prototype that records z (depth) information along with the traditional RGB mosaic. Once developed further, that would give you the ability to emulate wide-aperture background blurring via processing.

0 upvotes
Dmitri Alexander
By Dmitri Alexander (Mar 1, 2012)

It's interesting to hear that selective defocusing technologies are indeed under development. To Stephen123's point, yes what I'm talking about is in essence standard Photoshop--selecting regions of the image and blurring them. What I'm wondering, though, is if there isn't a way to more or less automatically accomplish this via a firmware option rather than manually, after the fact, via software. When you depress the shutter halfway to focus, on, say, a person in the foreground, the camera then knows to blur out every other aspect of the picture to the degree the photographer desires. To me, this approach seems inherently easier--and doesn't require the image quality sacrifices of the Lytro--than the very elaborate microlens array. To apply this effect in a nuanced way I suppose you'd need what Erik suggests, multiple AF sensor readings, but that still seems easier than the microlens approach and wouldn't compromise the quality of the actual image capture.

But what do I know, really.

0 upvotes
Dmitri Alexander
By Dmitri Alexander (Mar 1, 2012)

It's interesting to hear that selective defocusing technologies are indeed under development. To Stephen123's point, yes what I'm talking about is in essence standard Photoshop--selecting regions of the image and blurring them. What I'm wondering, though, is if there isn't a way to more or less automatically accomplish this via a firmware option rather than manually, after the fact, via software. When you depress the shutter halfway to focus, on, say, a person in the foreground, the camera then knows to blur out every other aspect of the picture to the degree the photographer desires. To me, this approach seems inherently easier--and doesn't require the image quality sacrifices of the Lytro--than the very elaborate microlens array. To apply this effect in a nuanced way I suppose you'd need what Erik suggests, multiple AF sensor readings, but that still seems easier than the microlens approach and wouldn't compromise the quality of the actual image capture.

But what do I know, really.

0 upvotes
Petteri Sulonen
By Petteri Sulonen (Mar 1, 2012)

The idea has potential though. Just needs more source pixels and a bigger sensor for more DOF control.

If you used the 41 MP one from the new Nokia, it'd be a whole different beast. I bet you could get quite decent focusable 3-4 MP pics from that.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

It has DOF control, that's the point. Do you mean control to make everything in focus?

The Nokia camera phone is mentioned in the review.

0 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 1, 2012)

The DOF control is only effective in limited compositions with at least one object relatively close to the camera. This is one the the complaints in the review.

1 upvote
Michael Long
By Michael Long (Mar 1, 2012)

In his thesis, the inventor estimates that you could get 4MP (2k x 2k) out of, say, a full-frame 100+ MP sensor...

0 upvotes
Russ Houston
By Russ Houston (Mar 1, 2012)

Many of the comments here sound just like the film forums when the first digital cameras came out.

3 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 1, 2012)

Exactly. But even the first crude digital cameras had practical uses right away in addition to novelty. That's what's unclear about the Lytro. (I have a film camera that does easy 360 panoramas. That's not enough to bring back film.)

0 upvotes
ksgant
By ksgant (Mar 2, 2012)

And, they were right at the time. Digital wasn't anywhere near ready for prime time...hardly even for consumers. In time though, it took over.

We'll see how this technology does 10 years from now.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
kenw
By kenw (Mar 2, 2012)

Yes and no. When digital cameras came out they were low resolution, but nothing limited their resolution in the future. Now sensors that "out resolve" lenses are common and everyone expected them to eventually get to where we are now.

This is a bit different, physics and information theory tell you there is a fundamental limit to the resolution that has nothing to do with the sensor and everything to do with diffraction. So the resolution isn't going to improve much. You'll always be stuck at resolutions significantly lower than "normal" cameras and there really is no way around that.

That isn't necessarily an issue - it doesn't need to hit the same market. It is a different thing. Digital cameras though are very much a replacement of film by comparison and that's where your metaphor breaks down.

0 upvotes
Joe Ogiba
By Joe Ogiba (Mar 1, 2012)

DPR conclusion :
"For now, we think the resolution is too low and that the small sensor means you need rather exaggerated compositions to offer significant refocusability in the resulting file. In the week that Nokia announced a phone with a larger, 41MP sensor, it's hard not to wonder what the Light Field Camera would be like if it was based around that chip."

That is all we need to know IMHO.

0 upvotes
derfla1949
By derfla1949 (Mar 1, 2012)

What about a focussing bracket option for the usual digital camera type?
Shoot 3 or 5 pic i.s.o. one, focussing also one or two little steps (customizable as percent of distance) closer or more distant. Later keep those that please you most.

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Bracket focusing can't really do say 10 foot depth of field.

Then there's the moving objects problem.

0 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 1, 2012)

> Bracket focusing can't really do say 10 foot depth of field.

Yes it can - it's called focus stacking. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focus_stacking

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Erik Magnuson:

You're not getting it, bracket focusing would have hard time doing a 10 foot depth of field quickly.

If you want to put to a camera on a stable tripod, over a 15 minutes of shooting you can get enough images so say an entire 200 foot long room would be in focus.

People need to stop thinking that what Lytro is doing can be readily done with a process like taking many many photos of the scene.

Please don't cite Wikipedia, except for things like the equations of motion.

1 upvote
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 1, 2012)

No, I get it. You said "can't"; it can. Doing it quickly would require a lens and focusing algorithm designed for that (e.g. small internal focus element that can move quickly to different steps.)

Much of what Lytro does can be done with multiple exposures -- just with different implementation and computational considerations. (Hint: what do the prisms/microlenses effectively do except record multiple different focus views of the scene? The difference is in the simultaneous capture and the reconstruction processing.)

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Erik Magnuson

No, much of what Lytro does can't be done with multiple exposures, for example moving things.

I should have written that focus bracketing only emulates Lytro in very very limited circumstances.

0 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 1, 2012)

"Moving things" are not "much of what Lytro does" if you look at their sample photos. Even then, it depends on the composition: for example the Lytro sample of the surfer eyeing the waves would only require 2 or 3 focus planes to emulate.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

"Lytro" is a stand in for the possibilities of light field photography.

Really, way to be purposely obtuse.

0 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 1, 2012)

In-camera multi-exposure HDR has the same issues for moving objects -- which hasn't stopped it from being useful and widely implemented. Light field photography has some significant implementation costs. If there is another way to get much of the benefit without those costs, then LF will remain a niche application. Similar to 3-CCD vs. Bayer mosaic for color photography. Good enough -- but more compatible -- usually wins over novel.

0 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (Mar 1, 2012)

By mixing all the available software techniques that make use of excess Mpx there is finally the chance to put excess res to good use.
Many can see that with many megapixel you can zoom in and still retain quality, but you lack the shallow DOF of tele lens.
Using a light field system you become able to chose the DOF a posteriori.
Not only that, but I think it will be pretty simple to chose the /shape/ of the bokeh, by actually putting everything in focus and then defocusing via software the portions that need to be oof.
This obviously is going to happen in quite some years, but that's an exciting perspective, because it means that some things that up until now we thought couldn't be performed without analog moving parts (e.g. size and shape of the aperture) now have a chance too get their digital counterpart (not necessarily a good thing, but an alternative nonetheless)

0 upvotes
MarcoPon
By MarcoPon (Mar 1, 2012)

Is there any downloadable Lytro LFC raw file sample somewhere?

I would love to add them to TrID's database:
http://mark0.net/onlinetrid.aspx

0 upvotes
ZAnton
By ZAnton (Mar 1, 2012)

Why didn't you make the ISO tests studio pictures and samples?

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

There's only ISO800. And you need the Lytro software on a Mac to fully get the images, yes I know that those flash files are a web version.

Also that DPRview studio shot doesn't have much depth.

0 upvotes
falconeyes
By falconeyes (Mar 1, 2012)

Resolution test shots should be done though. I doubt the 1080^2 resolution, I guess its is upscaled. The preliminary math I did tells me so. It yields more like 820^2 assuming 4x4 rays per pixel which is also a plausible figure taking the Bayer filter into account.

Moreover, I notice that ISO 800 hapens to be 4x4x50.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

falconeyes:

Not sure there is a Bayer filter.

Do you have the Lytro software installed on your Mac to view and manipulate the files? And do you happen to have Lytro files from somewhere else?

0 upvotes
falconeyes
By falconeyes (Mar 1, 2012)

No, I only know what is written and the FCC teardown. But Lytro says it is a standard CMOS sensor with a special microlens array. I see no other way to record color then.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

falconeyes:

I'm going by my memory of reading Ng's PHd some months back, but don't see the text at the top of my pile of books, so can't look quickly. I don't remember a bayer filer with the Contax he modified for the dissertation research.

Remember that prisms split light.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (Mar 1, 2012)

Other light field papers/implementations suggest that the output "resolution" actually depends on the focus point. On the dpreview sample with the 3 cameras, the Leica in the back has noticeably poor detail.

0 upvotes
Michael Long
By Michael Long (Mar 1, 2012)

@HowaboutRAW : It's a special micro lens array placed higher than one normally would be, over a standard bayer sensor.

One thing to note is that he mentions if you could change the distance between the micro-array and the sensors, you could have a "normal" camera that's could also be switched into "Lytro" mode.

0 upvotes
Michael Long
By Michael Long (Mar 1, 2012)

@falconeyes : It's ALL interpolated, but it might well be higher than you think. Part of the process corrects for lens distortions, chroma, and other aberrations, all at the same time.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Michael Long:

So you're saying the micro lenses replace the bayer filter, I was calling those micro lenses prisms, which is what they looked like when I held one at a demonstration--held the micro lens/prism array separated from the camera.

0 upvotes
robogobo
By robogobo (Mar 1, 2012)

I said it from the beginning: this is at best a solution in search of a problem, and at worst a complex gimmick. No matter what research is pointed my way, I still don't see what's so revolutionary about the tech. I've been told I need a phd to understand it. Good luck selling that. In the end it still looks like a bunch of simultaneous exposures at different focus points. Big deal. I think the best they can hope for is that somebody buys their IP and they can break even on the clearance sale.

They compare it to Polaroid. I'm afraid not. Polaroid was a high quality mainstay in the beginning. Only later did they cheapen the process and release junky cameras. Lytro is starting off with junk, and they don't even have a niche to fill. Maybe they can compare to Holgas or Dianas.

6 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Going after Lytro's execution is fine. Unlike Poloroid, Lytro did not invent this technology.

An obvious application, with much better video gear, would be to shoot a whole movie and not worry about focus while shooting--ever. Hope that didn't take a PHd to get.

1 upvote
stanic042
By stanic042 (Mar 1, 2012)

I don`t think you need phd to uderstand this http://www.lytro.com/renng-thesis.pdf

0 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Mar 1, 2012)

The thesis was submitted in a computer science school. Why not physics or optics? Did a camera engineer review and comment on the document? Did it appear in a peer-reviewed journal open to comments by other camera designers?

0 upvotes
Delacosta
By Delacosta (Mar 1, 2012)

No, not a PHD, just a PDF ;-)

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Cy Cheze:

You can read the thesis and find out why.

It's more like the computer application of this technique, which Ng did not invent. There is no new optical science.

He made it all work with a medium format Contax and a laptop.

0 upvotes
Michael Long
By Michael Long (Mar 1, 2012)

@Cy Cheze: You might go on Flckr and note just how many photos come from traditional camera makers vs computer and electronics companies...

0 upvotes
realityChecker
By realityChecker (Mar 2, 2012)

@HowaboutRAW - You said "An obvious application, with much better video gear, would be to shoot a whole movie and not worry about focus while shooting--ever."....Really?...OK so clearly you (or your PR people) know nothing about film making because no DP would ever want that. Ever! First you guys need to learn about why we like our 7D's and 50D mkII's and why we've replaced our video cameras. Remember, find a need, fill a need. That's biz 101.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 2, 2012)

realityChecker:

You've proven that you have no idea what Lytro does.

And why on earth are you bringing up DSLRs that have been 20 years in development?

Of course a DP would want to be able to shoot and not worry about focus until processing time. It is you who has proven your ignorance of movies and tv and sports.

0 upvotes
realityChecker
By realityChecker (Mar 2, 2012)

HowaboutRAW: I'm with robogobo (above) who says "No matter what research is pointed my way...<snip>"

Real photographers & film makers don't care about your prism technology. It's a gadget. Why am I bringing-up DSLR technology that has matured 20 years? Because it's the current market leader and the reason we fork-out thousands to the likes-of Canon and Nikon. You think we can't get a shot infocus at f22 and a high ISO setting on these things? It's you that are showing ignorance. Watch this recent video by Canon Europe on the new 5DmkIII and then tell me that "post processing" the blur actually makes ANY sense? http://vimeo.com/37804617

I mean please, do you really think that the DP wished that he could do the BOKEH AFTERWARDS on every frame that needed it with a bank of servers to chomp on those bits like a 3D rendering? That's ridiculous! Do you think he or she had any problems getting the focus right? You're clearly not a DP just sounding more like a hired PR person or an employee.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 2, 2012)

realityChecker:

Well there are DPs who wish they could fix the focus point of a scene. Is it really news that many movies get shot out of focus? (No, it's not a projection problem.)

Then there are those sports videos where this tech would help.

So those are two obvious contradictions to your received world view.

Not claiming that all movies are going to be shot with light field gear starting in two years. Try 20 years though.

That would be post processing focus, not blur.

Grow up and admit that you don't understand what the technology even does.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (Mar 1, 2012)

The way it is now, the Lytro is a gadget. Nice to have when you want to spend the money. I wonder if you could get the same effect with a hdr-like technique. Hfr (high focus range) a number of consecutive shots which are then merged into one interactive image, or into one image which is in focus over the entire range. (A fly's eye in the foreground an mount Fuji in the background).

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Well yes, but what about a moving object?

0 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (Mar 1, 2012)

Doesn't really work for that but you could capture the movement by focussing different spots, which would be interesting. Disadvantages always have an upside ;)..

0 upvotes
Michael Long
By Michael Long (Mar 1, 2012)

@HowaboutRAW: Moving object? Sure. No problem. You want to capture 10X the data PER FRAME in order to do so?

We barely have the tech to capture 4K. You want to try 40K???

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Michael Long:

The tech will catch up.

Also I was thinking of a still photo of a moving object--like a baseball player catching a ball--always a tricky focus, and something focus stacking really can't do.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Mar 1, 2012)

I think Lytro should get a Forum of its own, so as to see what people would really like. Too many manufacturers seem not to care about potential customers' opinions and needs, and simply push whatever comes out of their R&D departments. The separate Cats and Dogs in Pet program modes are just an example, especially compared to good, useful ideas contained in, say, CHDK thinking.
While being hilariously useless, a customer has to pay for such "advanced" "novelties" nevertheless, and I have this queasy feeling that someone is having a good laugh over what all they managed to sell...
I surely hope Lytro does not decide to follow such examples.

0 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Mar 1, 2012)

This certainly isn't an idea to disparage lightly, as many seem to do without proper understanding of the principle. Its usability will improve, the pics are going to be better with time. It will be used in many fields not currently obvious to all.
As with all beginnings, opinions range over the whole scale.
I'd like to see this concept connected with Origami optics, though. It might even further open the f-stop, while considerably reducing the camera's front size.
There should be options of interchangeable memory and battery as a matter of practicality. I see no advantage in separate models of separate capacity.
So far, I'm not entertaining any idea about posessing the Lytro until there is no proper software. This system will only gain popularity when it gets its independence from the Lytro site. This dependence upon mother site is presumably temporary, while research still goes on. The "attractiveness" of FB, though, is "anti-cue" to me, but other people might think otherwise...

3 upvotes
migus
By migus (Mar 1, 2012)

Till recently i dismissed a consumer-oriented Lytro as "solution searching its problems". Probably will stay so for a while, unless they can show enticing bokeh control for small lens/sensors a la nikon 1... or some other algorithms for DOF manipulations (again, small sensor/lens issue). Something good may come out of this in the consumer space, too. The pro apps are persuasive enough already.

Dislikes: Closed ecosystem a la Apple. Built-in fixed (small) storage and battery, dead in ca. 500 cycles, nothing user replaceable? Further encroaching on users' freedom is the lack of local software to render my pics, which are 1st seen/censored in the Cloud by the company i just paid. Apple and FB got away w/ such practices because people wanted their product badly enough to trade some of their freedom/privacy. Lytro doesn't have such fatal attraction yet.

Net: Love innovation, even the apparently useless one. Can't accept a closed sandbox, though.

2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

That's cloud sharing, one can see and manipulate the photos on a Mac with the Lyrto software installed.

You're correct about the stupidity of doing a built in battery and flash memory.

0 upvotes
Biowizard
By Biowizard (Mar 1, 2012)

Interesting thought about built-in "non"-replaceable batteries, which (of course) ARE replaceable, just not by users ...

... I have NEVER had to replace ANY of my Li-ion batteries in a mix of laptops, Nokia phones, and assorted digital cameras. Invariably, the DEVICES have failed or been replaced due to becoming obsolete, LONG before the battery expired. The reason is, I top-up-charge my Li-ions after EVERY use, and this way, they last for very many years.

The same was NOT true about NiCd, or even NiMh, but thankfully those days are passed.

So am I worried about built-in batteries in my iPad 1? No, because by the time they go, I'll own an iPad 5. And my lovely Olympus E-1 is still going strong, 10s of 1000s of photoes later, after 6+ years of use on the same, original battery pack.

Yes, I've just touched wood to avoid cursing my kit, but let's face it: you don't NEED to be able to replace Li-ion batteries in kit with an expected useful lifetime measured in just a handful of years.

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

I had to buy several new LiOn batteries for my Canon G2 over the the three years I used the camera regularly.

Laptop batteries fail all of the time.

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Biowizard
By Biowizard (Mar 1, 2012)

I think it's down to how you use your Li-ions. They DON'T like being fully discharged, and should NOT be routinely run down and then charged - the exact OPPOSITE of NiCd and NiMh. If (like me) you keep your Li-ion devices topped up all the time, the batteries will last you for years.

Brian

0 upvotes
Biowizard
By Biowizard (Mar 1, 2012)

Just checked - Apple provide a battery replacement service for all their iPods, iPads and iPhones, at reasonable prices. So after all, the built-in (or rather, non-USER-replaceable) battery is NOT an issue!

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Biowizard:

That's simply not true about Li Ion batteries some how lasting longer if always topped up.

Also, Sony, Nikon, Canon, etc would be laughed out of the camera business if they did what Apple does with built in (non field swappable) batteries.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Biowizard
By Biowizard (Mar 1, 2012)

EASE OF USE [n., popular phrase]

1. LYTRO style: point a rectangular box in the general direction you want to photograph, using a 128x128 pixel grid to aim, stroke the surface to frame it, and press the button; later, transfer the images to your computer using proprietary software (Mac only), and from there, upload 16Mb per picture to a website, interact with it to select your preferred focus points, and download one or more 1Mpixel JPG files showing most parts of each photo fuzzy, and one part sharp. Use your browser to share images with your friends on FaceBook.

2) iPhone style: point phone to frame image on a gorgeous high res colour display; press button; capture glorious 8Mpixel images and share them on Twitter, Facebook or Email immediately.

Guess I know which I'd rather have with me, on those occasions I've left my DSLR at home or in the car. Plus (2) makes phone calls.

Brian

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
5 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

How does that iPhone do in lowlight, not glorious. (Also jpegs are rarely glorious--only with a great deal of luck.)

0 upvotes
Biowizard
By Biowizard (Mar 1, 2012)

Compared to (say) a Canon Ixus/Elph 230 HS, the iPhone totally SUCKS as a low-light camera. Its one and only photographic advantage, even over my trusty Olympus E-1, is that it is always WITH ME! And a camera with poor low-light handling is still better than no camera at all! :-)

This post is more about the "ease of use" issue, something Apple have encompassed in spades, together with integration of Twitter in iOS 5, and helped further by the availability of Facebook and Twitter Apps.

I still do all my "serious" photography on the E-1, and tote this together with a laptop, a wireless router, USB cables, and more, with me whenever I travel.

But the immediacy of being able to take an iPhone snap, and half a dozen taps on the glass later, have that picture on Facebook, Twitter, or emailed at full resolution to my own account for later work, trumps the DSLR on many occasions.

What I would do for a DSLR with built in WiFi and G3 comms, and running iOS5 ... Apple, are you listening?!

1 upvote
eyefuse
By eyefuse (Mar 1, 2012)

This tech should be implemented for video use. So that you could easily make the perfectly smooth and exact spot on focus pulls - in the post process! That would be truly revolutionary. No need to worry about pumping auto focus, low light focusing problems and moving subjects in all kinds of action, low contrast and messy scenes. Whoa, that would rock!

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Yep, right shoot a whole movie without a worry about focus. Been thought of. Good to see it posted here.

0 upvotes
Michael Long
By Michael Long (Mar 1, 2012)

It should.. and will... eventually. The relatively minor nit is capturing 10x a normal HD frame's data, processing it, and moving it... for each and every frame.

0 upvotes
Izu
By Izu (Mar 1, 2012)

I still wonder why DPreview overs Lytro so much... I mean, there are plenty of cameras that need a review, this is nothing more than a proof of concept with ridiculous resolution. Still, any news about it get on the homepage of DPreview.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

One can't usually buy a proof of concept. (By the way Adobe paid a lens maker to build a lens, for a dslr I believe, that does the same thing. That's a proof of concept--big and expensive too.)

0 upvotes
Felix E Klee
By Felix E Klee (Mar 1, 2012)

For sure it is possible to create a "depth map" from the images. Algorithm, roughly speaking: For each point, bring it in focus and then check the distance scale of the virtual lens.

If the depth map has a decent range and resolution (perhaps with a larger sensor): This could be an interesting application for replacing devices such as the Kinect sensor for coarse real time 3D scanning.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Ivanaker
By Ivanaker (Mar 1, 2012)

The main advantage i see in this is the future implementation. Just imagine shooting @f/1.4 and later put everything in focus, the whole picture. That is amazing.

2 upvotes
Felix E Klee
By Felix E Klee (Mar 1, 2012)

Don't see the point. As far as I understand it, when rendering a picture, the Lytro throws away most of the light rays reaching the sensor. This is in contrast to a conventional camera. Consequently, I expect the Lytro to have really bad low-light performance, even with the aperture wide open.

1 upvote
Ivanaker
By Ivanaker (Mar 1, 2012)

Im talking about Nikon or Canon buying this tech, making a FF sensor and stick it in their special function cameras (landscape, macro, forensics etc). I just say that it is amazing that you could shoot with 85 1.4 @1.4 and have the entire picture in focus.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Felix E Klee:

The Lytro performs surprisingly well in low light.

0 upvotes
Felix E Klee
By Felix E Klee (Mar 1, 2012)

@HowaboutRAW: Don't forget that the output resolution is rather small (sufficient for the intended purpose, though). So, high-res noise or camera shake is not well noticeable. Just think about how the camera works: Unless there is some magic going on, most of the light information reaching the sensor is discarded when rendering the picture.

Comment edited 40 seconds after posting
1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Felix E Klee:

No most of the light information is kept, that's how they can do the refocus.

Note this camera ships set at ISO 800--that's high. I happen to think that Lytro probably overreached a bit.

Camera shake is not removed by this technology, shutter speed does that.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Ivanaker:

To clarify: The Lytro does NOT have a special sensor--it's off the self.

It's the prism and software that are particular with this Lytro. Nikon or Canon, or any lens maker, could work on a lens that would also do this. But that's going to be more expensive than the prism.

0 upvotes
Ivanaker
By Ivanaker (Mar 1, 2012)

ok, its not the sensor, but anyway, i welcome new tecnology and cant wait to see what is going to grow out of this.

0 upvotes
Felix E Klee
By Felix E Klee (Mar 1, 2012)

@HowaboutRAW: The basic idea is to do the refocus by only using a small *subset* of the rays captured. This happens in software. The sensor itself, of course, still captures a lot of light.

Concerning camera shake: In low res images it is not as noticeable as in high res images. This is true for any camera.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Felix E Klee:

If you are talking about printing a jpeg, yes then information is discarded.

But that's not how the Lytro files work. You need to think not of pixel by pixel resolution, but another dimension of resolution. Yes the 2D image isn't that many pixels. No sure that this version of lower resolution avoids some camera shake problems, because the resolution of this sensor is used elsewhere.

0 upvotes
Felix E Klee
By Felix E Klee (Mar 1, 2012)

Exactly, when printing a JPEG - or when viewing the image - rays are discarded in those parts that are *in focus*. Only in parts that are *completely out of focus*, all rays are used.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Felix E Klee:

Right, go to the Lytro website and click to refocus the images, that's not discarded information. That's information which is being rearranged. To print a jpeg is discarding information, as I already wrote.

0 upvotes
Felix E Klee
By Felix E Klee (Mar 2, 2012)

Read again what I wrote.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 2, 2012)

Felix E Klee:

The information in the in-focus area is not discarded from the file--by your explanation, if true, the information is suppressed in the in-focus area of the photo representation on the screen.
Then a different in-focus are can be selected and different information suppressed.

So no the information is not discarded as with a jpeg.

0 upvotes
Felix E Klee
By Felix E Klee (Mar 4, 2012)

Never said this. Read again what I wrote.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 5, 2012)

Felix E Klee:

You from above:

"Unless there is some magic going on, most of the light information reaching the sensor is discarded when rendering the picture."

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 5, 2012)

Felix E Klee:

Quoting you from above:

"Don't see the point. As far as I understand it, when rendering a picture, the Lytro throws away most of the light rays reaching the sensor."

Please don't make the mistake of assuming I can't read.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 5, 2012)

Felix E Klee:

Quoting you from above:

"Don't see the point. As far as I understand it, when rendering a picture, the Lytro throws away most of the light rays reaching the sensor."

Please don't make the mistake of assuming I can't read.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 5, 2012)

Felix E Klee:

Quoting you from above:

"Don't see the point. As far as I understand it, when rendering a picture, the Lytro throws away most of the light rays reaching the sensor."

Please don't make the mistake of assuming I can't read.

0 upvotes
Michael Ma
By Michael Ma (Mar 1, 2012)

I agree with the video reviewer. Absolutely fantastic execution from concept to reality. But the resolution is too low that it is rather gimmicky. But what first camera has everything? Hopefully they make enough revenue so that they one day make a product that everyone could see value in.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (Mar 1, 2012)

Right, Lytro chose off the shelf components as much as possible--that's one of the reasons for the limitations.

I happen to think a built in battery and built in memory is a mistake.

0 upvotes
Alizarine
By Alizarine (Mar 1, 2012)

I used to think how an interesting technology this is until I viewed the samples and realized how little I can do with this camera's output.

I'd rather a camera that can take auto-GIFs or like short clips to make "moving photos" that can be easily used in various social networking or online publication sites/apps. That would be more entertaining than refocusing.

0 upvotes
kapanak
By kapanak (Mar 1, 2012)

Already available with the Nikon 1 series ... the moving pictures gimmick ...

0 upvotes
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