Ren NG

Lytro camera unveiled

21 October 2011

When last summer the Lytro light field technology was unveiled, the whole sci-fi & photographic community exploded with amazement and praises. Multi-angle & multi-focus photography was a reality, and most camera manufacturers started to tremble.

All 3 Lytro camera flavors
All 3 Lytro camera flavors

Ren Ng gave 3455 interviews and promised a camera in the market before the end of the year… and here it is. A rectangular prism (sort of a rectangular torch) which promises “living pictures”…. at a non-affordable price: $400 for the 8GB version and $500 for the 16Gb one. And let’s be honest here… the technology is amazing of course, but there’s a looong way to go until the big photography industry players (Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Pana… even Sony now) manage to somehow reduce and pack this light field evolution into their cameras (if they ever manage to do given the patents & all).

41 mm x 41 mm x 112 mm ... quite small
41 mm x 41 mm x 112 mm ... quite small

Until then.. or until Lytro decides to get into serious photography business the Lytro cameras are more of a toy product…. maybe the new Polaroid?

Techno behind Lytro
Techno behind Lytro

It packs a usb port, a 1.46 in touchscreen (the one you see at the back),  a powerbutton, shutterbutton, zoom slider (just above the screen) and what matters most: a f/2 lense with 8x optical zoom which allows that light field engine (pictured above) to take all those light rays (they call them Megarays!) to create the live scene. The result? Photos like this…

So from now on… no more megapixel race… but megaray!!! Oh and btw… their software (which is kind of obligatory if you really want to make use of the pictures you’ve taken) is only available for Mac … and no Windows until 2012.. bohooo!

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22 June 2011

While we’re still waiting for Panasonic to release their GF5 or however their future “Pro” micro 4/3 camera is called next fall we suddenly feel challenged by the introduction of this new “light field” technology into the mass market….

The light field fully defines how a scene appears. It is the amount of light traveling in every direction through every point in space – it’s all the light rays in a scene. Conventional cameras cannot record the light field.

A massive buzz Ren Ng has generated across the whole tech blog community & industry promising to release pocketable devices “sometime this year” under his company “Lytro”. From his blog…

“People often refer to taking a picture as capturing the moment, but conventional photography does not really capture the moment. It captures one angle, one set of light, and one focus of the moment. If you are a professional photographer, you might capture the best parts of the moment. If you are someone like me, you most certainly will not. With Ren’s light field camera, you actually capture the moment or at least all of the light that visually represents the moment.

Once you have captured the moment, you can go back at any time and get the picture that you want.

Essentially, you can take the picture you wish you would have taken after the fact. If you are used to the old paradigm, it’s like travelling backwards through time.”

The light field sensor captures the color, intensity and vector direction of the rays of light. This directional information is completely lost with traditional camera sensors, which simply add up all the light rays and record them as a single amount of light.

The idea & techno behind has been developed over the past 3 years at Stanford University labs, and after raising $50 million from several angel investors (NEA, K9 Ventures, Greylock Partners and Andreessen Horowitz) Lytro will not only propose “always focused” images but some amazing 3D effects (see video below).

Mindblowing? Mmmmmm, you can find more info and reserve your camera on their website. Ore a few demonstrations on their official blog. Shoot now, focus later … their marketing moto…

The question now is… will it shoot videos?

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