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Lytro Light Field Camera now works with Windows

By dpreview staff on Jul 24, 2012 at 00:41 GMT

Lytro, the maker of the Lytro Lightfield Camerahas today announced that its 'Lytro Desktop Application' - the software that allows you to 'refocus' light-field images after they have been taken, is now available for Microsoft Windows. You'll need to run the 64bit version of Windows Home, Professional or Ultimate on a computer with an Intel Core 2 Duo or better processor and at least 2GB RAM. At the same time the company announced two new accessories - a USB wall charger and a tripod mount, which are available for around $20 each.

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Comments

Total comments: 39
Sirandar
By Sirandar (Aug 16, 2012)

After reading the review I think this tech has quite a way to go before it is really useful BUT one application I can really see taking off is in macro photography.

It is often hard to impossible to get a whole macro subject in full focus when shooting stationary, much less moving targets. You can shoot a bunch of shots with a conventional camera and try to stack them but the results are mixed and if the target moves it wont work.

If a camera like this could take a single macro shot and compile the data into a single completely in focus image, that would be of interest to macro photographers and anybody who catalogs anything.

0 upvotes
egorbogat
By egorbogat (Jul 30, 2012)

Hello to everyone!
Maybe you can help me. I am working with Lytro camera now. I took my sample’s picture. After I click by different object on my pict and save jpg-format pictures. I click by objects with a step 2 mm (in deep, my sample – is periodic black lines in white background). I have received same pictures even if I clicked in different objects. Is it means that Lytro camera (refocusing algorithm) has special refocus point??? How to identify these refocus points in camera? I didn’t find answer in Ren Ng thesis. Please, could you help me!

Thanks a lot!

0 upvotes
Scottelly
By Scottelly (Jul 28, 2012)

I for one think Lytro cameras are amazing! Maybe future plenoptic cameras will not replace all cameras, but they will be much more common than they are today. I believe that one day many photographers will have plenoptic cameras, in an effort to improve their creative choices after the original photo, just as photographers seem to shoot more and more bracketed shots today. Memory space is no longer at a premium for most. Memory cards are big enough, hard drives are big enough, and computers are fast enough that a 16 megapixel camera can be used to shoot bracketed series of exposures now, without a great deal of effort or expense. Yes, film shooters used to bracket too, but I am pretty sure that digital shooters do it more often today. Then there is the "new" HDR technology.

0 upvotes
Scottelly
By Scottelly (Jul 28, 2012)

Plenoptic cameras are in their infancy, and the fewer Lytro cameras that sell, the better for the collectors. Afterall, the Lytro will likely be a high-priced collector's item one day. I'm guessing that they'll sell for $10,000 in 20 or 30 years. I guess we will see - some of us (hopefully I will be one).

Today I think the Lytro camera is cool, interesting, and impressive. I couldn't believe that such a camera existed at all, when I saw it the first time (on-line . . . not in person). I actually thought the technology to create a plenoptic camera was decades away, and when we finally saw one that was even somewhat practical (hand-held and simple enough to use for a normal person, rather than some scientist with a degree in computer programming), it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Obviously I was wrong.

I am actually surprised the software only just came out in a Windows version. Maybe they figured Apple buyers would be more likely to pay the money for a Lytro camera.

0 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Jul 28, 2012)

@Scottely - I am quite sure that you are right that future cameras might be able to do things like a plenoptic camera. There are phase plate technology and lots of other solutions for after he fact focus control. Do a google search on edof.

Now - Joseph might correct my if I am wrong - but I dont think the plenoptic camera really can refocus. It can only selectively stop down the aperture. So - things out of focus cannot really be sharp - only less fuzzy.

0 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Jul 26, 2012)

Wait, so this software is incompatible with AMD processors?!

0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Jul 25, 2012)

Why a tripod? Long exposure night shot?

1 upvote
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Jul 25, 2012)

Like dpReview said when they reviewed it: "Explorable output tends to require contrived compositions."

Tripods are a natural part of a highly contrived style of photography.

They also pointed out its high ISO weakness, another reason you'd want a tripod.

1 upvote
guif
By guif (Jul 25, 2012)

Sad sarcastic comments, tomorrow all cameras will be plenoptic ... Just as all cameras are now digital, back in the times the same stupid pepple were saying "that is not a camera yada ... Yada ... " and the same crowd cries after the performances of the new canikon toy ..

2 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Jul 25, 2012)

And you made a sad, sarcastic (and poorly punctuated) response. Digital cameras, from the crude, low resolution, $40,000 monstrosities of 1990 to the DSLRs, P&Ss, and phones of today, filled a need for immediately available, transmittable, and editable results.

Plenoptic cameras don't fill any current or anticipated need. They are what technology forecasters call a "dancing bear". For a few minutes, you look and say "wow, a bear is dancing". Then, the novelty wears off and you say "why do we need a dancing bear?"

7 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Jul 25, 2012)

Nonsense. A digital camera is a camera - a general tool - just as a film based camera.

A plenoptic camera is a special tool - just as stereo cameras and a lenticular camera

1 upvote
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Jul 25, 2012)

Joseph - I would LOVE a camera where I could do fine adjustments to focusing afterwards. Getting the focus slightly wrong is one of my most common mistakes.

The problem is only - Lytro is not that camera. So - its a no solution to a real problem I do have.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
5 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Jul 25, 2012)

Now, ignoring that business reality, there's also a little technology issue keeping "all" or even "most" cameras from being plenoptic. It only actually works on a small, select subset of cameras. Plenoptic cameras work by decimation, they decimate a lens's wide-open DOF aperture by a certain factor, allowing various combinations of focus ranges and DOFs within the decimated DOF to be selected.

If you have an f1.4 lens and an f1.4 to f11 (8:1) decimating microlens array, you can, theoretically, select the entire f11 DOF at the focus distance (it's not "focus free") or you can select any subset: like f1.4 DOF near the front of the f11 DOF, or f8 DOF in the middle of the f11 DOF.

In practice, you miss the theoretic limit by over a stop. Ren Ng's first camera had an f4 lens and f4 to f52 decimating (13:1) microlenses, but it couldn't deliver f52 DOF, only f22, a 5.5:1, or 5 stop range.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Jul 25, 2012)

Now, I use my DSLR with lenses from f1.2 to f32. Remember, you said "tomorrow all cameras will be plenoptic". That's 9.5 stops or 710:1 decimation. Double that, like Ng's thesis says we have to, and you've got about 1400:1. To get a 6mp final output, which was what I had back in 2001, you need 6mp * 1400 squared...

That's a 12 terapixel sensor!

It also is an 8 nanometer pixel, 1/500 the wavelength of visible light. The practical limit for a pixel is 700nm, if it's going to be able to capture visible red light. That's 1.7 gigapixels. Which is only 17:1 decimation for a 6mp final image, or 8:1 usable range, according to Ng.

f1.4-f11 if the microlenses are built for that pitch, which means I lose at both the deep end and the shallow end, and give up 2 stops of low light ability (the math is real noisy), and deal with 3.4 gigabyte raw files, all for a dancing bear.

Microcameras like cell phones have the opposite problem. No optical resolution to decimate.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
Zdenek Janda
By Zdenek Janda (Jul 25, 2012)

As a physicist I carefully read the PhD dissertation of Ng, inventor of Lytro. There is nothing inherently bad in his invention.

Unfortunately, available technology doesn't always keep pace with great inventions.

Regarding dishonesting comments addressed to Lytro, I fully agree with statement of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin:

"When you're one step ahead of the crowd you're a genius. When you're two steps ahead, you're a crackpot."

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Jul 25, 2012)

I find it interesting that you went from saying "There is nothing inherently bad in his invention" to somehow counting it among "great inventions".

I'd define a "great invention" as one that provides a "great benefit". Ng's invention appears to be, at best, a novelty. I see no greatness in that. Yes, it has some great physics and great math, but all that greatness was directed towards a mediocre concept.

Oh, and as a physicist, you should understand the difference between "available technology" and physical limits. There will never be enough sensor resolution to make good on gulf's claim that "all cameras will be plenoptic". To say otherwise is to make what you called "dishonesting comments".

Now, if you believe that someone here, aside from gulf, and possibly yourself, has said something dishonest, then do what an ethical scientist is prepared to do, and provide a counter-argument.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Zdenek Janda
By Zdenek Janda (Jul 25, 2012)

@Wisniewski:

Alhough my first comment was response to original post, it seems that you are offended my opinion which is so strongly different from yours.

So be assured, that I have no intention argument with you, and I only repeat the simple fact that in Ng invention physical laws are not broken, but available technology is not mature enough to take advantage of this invention.

So was in past with many other inventions, which are today common things...

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
jeangenie
By jeangenie (Jul 26, 2012)

Joseph, you've made some MASSIVE assumptions, and they are informing your entire argument.

What if the plenoptic feature ... could be turned off? Maybe it's possible; maybe it isn't. Also, there is a large professional market for 3D video cameras (for which there was also no 'need', until the technology was invented, btw) ... what if the second or third generations of these sensors could create single-lens 3D video?

I could come up with a long list of famous inventions for which there was no need, but sold like crazy. Flat-panel TVs and every single non-portable advancement in audio since 1970 or so, for instance. Oh, and almost every personal hygiene product ever.

Maybe this product is just a flash in the pan. But you'r assuming not only that this technology will never improve, but also that there will never be any more demand than what currently exists.

I'm sorry, but those are both very faulty assumptions.

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Jul 26, 2012)

jeangenie, poor little greenie, I've made no "massive assumptions". I've drawn from Ng's own published papers and my own knowledge of computational optics and volumetric algorithms.

"what if the second or third generations of these sensors could create single-lens 3D video?"

Now, that's a massive assumption. There is something in single perspective point 3D image processing called the occlusion problem, which means that you do not have the information needed to fill in what is occluded by foreground objects in one eye's view, but is not occluded in the other eye's view. Single point 3D looks contrived. You'll notice that most of the 3D examples you see presented by plenoptic researchers are at macro distances. At such distances, you can select rays to create a small stereobase multiple point view, but that base is limited to 1/2 the aperture diameter.

In short, the Lytro can make great 3D images, of stuff about 18 inches away.

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Jul 26, 2012)

"I could come up with a long list of famous inventions for which there was no need, but sold like crazy. Flat-panel TVs..."

Flat panel TVs are an excellent example of an invention for which there is a massive need (space saving, weight saving, power saving, decreased cost, increased size, higher resolution, reduced radiation) so that pretty much defeats your argument. Are you aware of the decades of research that went on at places like Sarnoff or SRI to bring the microtip emitter plasma display to fruition? The billions pumped into LCDs by Sharp, NEC, or Samsung?

"But you'r assuming not only that this technology will never improve,"

No. I'm stating that it will not improve to the point where, as guif asserts "tomorrow all cameras will be plenoptic". Rather than stuff words in my mouth with your version of what I'm "assuming", why don't you read what I wrote?

You can't turn off microlenses (now, that's a massive assumption) so this will never be a general purpose camera.

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
jeangenie
By jeangenie (Jul 26, 2012)

Joesph, you can Google information all you want. I'm assuming you're not an expert at everything, because you're obviously the sort of person who would have told Zdenek so.

If you were in the television business ten years ago, you wouldn't argue about whether or not there was a need for a flat-panel TV. For the military, or course. For consumers - hell no. But it was sexy, and a status symbol; at the time, an $8,000 LCD had a worse picture than a $1000 CRT, AND had no speakers. In fact, even today certain Sony CRT TVs have a reputation for having a better picture than most current LCD/LEDs. Another ten years before that, it was generally thought that LCD displays could never reach the level of detail that is currently available today, let alone on a $250 TV set.

0 upvotes
jeangenie
By jeangenie (Jul 26, 2012)

Microlenses can never be turned off? Bah. A microlens is designed to scatter night in a certain pattern. Many high-end homes feature special windows which act normally, but when a switch is flipped and electricity applied, they turn opaque. This is done by a thin LCD panel between the two panes of glass that rearranges itself with power is applied. Light is scattered, and the glass looks opaque.

This technology could be integrated into a camera. Cameras could 'create' microlenses by drawing extra power. Single-lens 3D could be created by automatically taking two exposures; the first recording data for one eye, and then the lenses reorganize to capture data for the 'second' eye. Assuming shutter speeds are kept above 1/125 of a second, this technology would allow single-lens 3D capture at 1080p60.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
jeangenie
By jeangenie (Jul 26, 2012)

You continue to make the biggest, and worst assumption of all: that what is is what will be. Your problem is that no matter what you know, how much you read, how much you consider yourself an expert on ... you lack the ability to dream big. You lack creativity, Joseph-San.

I'm not saying that this will happen now, or ever. I'll I'm saying is that the technology technically exists, and that if you think laterally, it can one day be applied to camera manufacture.

I asked you 'what if?' this things can happen. I did not tell you they would. The Lytro team may fail, but it began with a thought of 'what if?' Many failures begin that way, but so do all great inventions.

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Jul 27, 2012)

"You continue to make the biggest, and worst assumption of all: that what is is what will be."

You continue to stuff words in my mouth, and it is most unpalatable. I commented on what is possible, given the physics of this particular universe.

"I'll I'm saying is that the technology technically exists"

You are incorrect. Your analogy with cloud-gel windows is false, because lenses do not scatter light, they redirect it. Your knowledge of history is incorrect: flat screens were quite common ten years ago in civilian use (they were more common back then, than your own smart windows example is today).

"you lack the ability to dream big. You lack creativity, Joseph-San."

Oh, jean-chan, you really have no idea who you're talking to. I have dreamed bigger than you ever will, and will continue to do so. You're without dreams of your own. You read a bit of highly skewed marketing literature, full of contrived demos, and think that breathing that second hand smoke is dreaming.

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Jul 27, 2012)

"Single-lens 3D could be created by automatically taking two exposures; the first recording data for one eye, and then the lenses reorganize to capture data for the 'second' eye."

You're failing to grasp a fundamental concept. You need to take those two exposures from locations fairly far from each other. For convincing 3D of things 6-10 feet away, that distance is approximately human eye spacing, around 60mm. The standard rule in 3D work is 30:1, you want to shoot 3D of action 20 feet away, you set the lenses up with a 200mm separation.

Lytro can already do as much ray selection as is possible behind its tiny lens. Problem is, with a 22mm lens, you've got the ability to create your "pair of eyes" 15mm apart, which is a fraction of what is needed for general photography. That's why the examples are shot so close.

There is good reason why humans do our 3D with two small eyes, instead of one giant eye the size of our faces.

0 upvotes
Scottelly
By Scottelly (Jul 28, 2012)

Joseph, what does the wave length of light have to do with it? Does light have to make a complete wave in order to capture a photon? If micro-lenses were less than the wave-length of light, and the photo-sites were smaller than a wave-length of light, what would happen?

I've heard the physics argument used in many discussions about technological limits, but almost always some smart inventor figured a way around the physics or somehow changed a design to either circumvent the physical limitations or remove/change the component limiting the system so that the physical limits were no more. I wonder if maybe this will be possible some day with plenoptic cameras, either by using a larger sensor, some type of multi-layer technology, or something else. No doubt some very smart people once said it would be impossible to make something like the iPhone, even in the year 2010.

0 upvotes
Alizarine
By Alizarine (Jul 25, 2012)

After the initial awe... it's not so interesting anymore.
Lytro must be quite disappointed in sales..

5 upvotes
plastique2
By plastique2 (Jul 25, 2012)

I see I'm not the only one with similar thoughts about this toy thing.
Well, I like all kinds of technical toys, no matter how still imperfect, but I hate ridiculous and absolutely useless design. This Lytro thing is obviously designed for people who love to be pushed to the limits of their ergonomical tolerance. Same thing with the apple mouse, after ten minutes cramps in the fingers and palm. Apple faithfuls tell me: you give up too easily! - Isn't that cute as an explanation :)
On the other hand I love this idea of focusing after focusing (I don't know the proper name for it). But designwise ... you guys said it all with your comments before ...

2 upvotes
Alex Akai
By Alex Akai (Jul 25, 2012)

Hmm I thought these would be sold in ToysRUs for kids to play with ! I wouldn't wanna be caught with this in my camera bag. I think a Kaleidoscope would be more fun to play with :)

4 upvotes
thinkfat
By thinkfat (Jul 25, 2012)

I just saw that in a video from DigitalRev. It's sweet technology, but the small sensor makes this "focus after the fact" feature pretty useless. The focal length is so small that everything is in focus anyway, if you don't shoot flowers.

4 upvotes
king_arthur
By king_arthur (Jul 25, 2012)

Has Apple bought them yet?

0 upvotes
EnsitMike
By EnsitMike (Jul 25, 2012)

Hey... did everyone here about the Canon EOS-M that just came out?!

wait...what's a Lytro? ;D haha

3 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (Jul 26, 2012)

The Lytro's the one doing something new (albeit not particularly useful). The Canon's the one doing what was already done 2 years ago.

0 upvotes
lylejk
By lylejk (Jul 25, 2012)

I would love to have this technology for printable captures. When it get's that point is when I will probable pursue this technology. Not sure when it will get to that point or if this technology really is applicable to print, but I guess I want my cake and eat it too. Cool that the processing software has been ported to PC. :)

0 upvotes
AngryCorgi
By AngryCorgi (Jul 25, 2012)

This is probably a big deal to the 5 people who actually bought a Lytro.

10 upvotes
infosky
By infosky (Jul 25, 2012)

It is cruel to imply there were only 5 Lytro sold. AngryCorgi, you grossly underestimated the number of rich fools in the world. There must be more than 50 of them.

4 upvotes
nekrosoft13
By nekrosoft13 (Jul 26, 2012)

last report said that 52 were sold

1 upvote
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Jul 27, 2012)

@AC, More than 5 people bought them. I looked the other day, and 10 people were trying to unload "like new" Lytros on ebay. So, I would hope that they sold at least 11, and there's at least 1 person, somewhere, who likes theirs and is keeping it.

1 upvote
tomlianza
By tomlianza (Aug 6, 2012)

I own a lytro and use it and enjoy it. I also own a D800 and an M9. The Lytro interested me because of the infrastructure that they built and the server based technology that allows you to post an image that requires massive processing on any web based application. The social aspects of the camera are similar to instagram and other photo processing apps that most snobs that post in these forums wouldn't use. I was quite surprised that they got funding to do this project. They've done a fine technical job. This type of technology has deep uses in medical imaging as well as micro topographical mapping. It isn't suited for the typical photographer....

0 upvotes
Total comments: 39