Future of photography: Imaging by light vector recording.

Started Apr 9, 2013 | Discussions thread
Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,136
No, just a passing fad...

looper1234 wrote:

The camera has being around for a long time, from the first pin hole, to modern d-SLRs, they all record images by focusing light on to a plane containing light sensitive material.

Actually, no. The pinhole doesn't focus anything, it works by vectors. But that's not important...

This method can record two very important details on the light: color and intensity; together with the position they fall on the light sensitive material, an image can be made.

But now a university

Four universities, going back more than a decade.

has constructed a camera that could record light in the form of a vector, that is, information about its color, intensity and direction of travel.

When I heard this news

The "news" is that two different companies, Lytro an Raytrix put them into production. Both flopped. We'll get to why in just a second.

i felt this could have literally earth shattering effect on photography. The most obvious and relevant point being 'focusing' will be a thing of the past.

Something that is not true can be neither "obvious" or "relevant".

with 3D vector of lights recorded, any 2D plane can be constructed to produce a photo at that focus.

Not "any plane", because that would require an infinite number of infinitely thin rays.

Imagine a sensor capable of recording all lights in all directions around you, and store them in vector form; from this massive collection of data, all possible photos that could be taken at that point with a traditional camera can be constructed.

Again, no. When you move from the infinite number of rays needed to do what you describe, to the finite number that is part of reality, the whole thing sort of breaks down. For example, the most popular paper on the subject, by Ren Ng from Stamford, describes his experiments with a camera that took 169 rays per pixel (a 13x13 matrix, more or less). To do that, he required a 16mp (4000x4000) sensor to produce a 0.083mp (288x288) image. The decimation of the sensor into 13x13 ray packets meant that he could refocus the camera's f4 lens over the DOF range of an f26 lens (since it was a medium format camera, that wasn't that much range).

The tradeoff between the "refocus" ability (or 3D ability) and resolution (and low light ability) is what insures that this technology will never be more than a novelty.

Ren Ng started a company to commercialize it, but to make it affordable, he lowered the megapixel count a bit and lowered the decimation a lot, to get a higher resolution output. The end result was a camera with a lot less of the "lightfield magic" that his earlier papers promised combined with a much lower resolution than a phone camera or even a $11 keychain camera.

There could be a day when photography no longer holds the meaning that it does today.

Of course. Photography doesn't hold the meaning today that it did 10 years ago. It won't hold the meaning 10 years from now that it holds today. That is obvious.

I feel this new type of camera is not far,

You are incorrect. Sorry.

exciting as it is, this could spell the end for many things we enjoy.

One day soon, photography will just be bring a little ball sensor out on a stick, record everything there is to record, and produce what you want in-front of a computer as post processing.

"Photography will just be" nothing of the sort. The vast majority of users don't want to post process. The "one day soon" workflow is that they compose with the device at hand (probably a phone) and share with their friends immediately (probably on facebook).

scared ? excited ? share your thoughts.

Already did.

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Rahon Klavanian 1912-2008.
Armenian genocide survivor, amazing cook, scrabble master, and loving grandmother. You will be missed.
Ciao! Joseph

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