World’s First Consumer Light Field Camera
Lytro, Inc. unveiled the first Lytro consumer light field camera in October 2011, introducing a new way to take and experience pictures. Unlike conventional cameras, the Lytro light field camera captures all the rays of light in a scene, providing new capabilities never before possible, such as the ability to focus a picture after it’s taken.
The pocket-sized camera, which offers a powerful 8x optical zoom and f/2 lens in an iconic design, creates interactive “living” pictures that can be endlessly refocused. Lytro began shipping the cameras to consumers in February and several reviews appeared this spring. The camera is available in two models and three colors, starting at $399.
The Lytro is the only consumer camera that lets people instantly capture a scene just as they see it by recording a fundamentally richer set of data than ever before. Lytro cameras feature a light field sensor that collects the color, intensity, and the direction of every light ray flowing into the camera, capturing a scene in four dimensions. To process this additional information, Lytro cameras contain a light field engine that allows camera owners to refocus pictures directly on the camera.
When the Lytro’s living pictures are shared online, the light field engine travels with each picture so anyone can interact with them on nearly any device, including web browsers, mobile phones, and tablets—without having to download special software.
The Lytro’s sleek design was created with simplicity in mind. With no unnecessary modes or dials, the camera features just two buttons—power and shutter—and has an intuitive glass touchscreen that lets pictures be viewed and refocused directly on the camera. While the Lytro camera houses complex technology, it is fundamentally easy to use, opening new creative opportunities for anyone interested in sharing their favorite memories with friends and family.
Head to www.lytro.com/living-pictures to experiment with a gallery of interactive photos.
Light field science
The Lytro is the first and so far only camera that features an innovative light field sensor captures 11 million light rays of data (or 11 megarays), including the direction of each ray, something conventional cameras can’t do. The light field engine then processes the data into a picture that is displayed in HD quality. Captured as a full light field, all pictures taken with the Lytro are inherently 3D. Special light field algorithms, available in 2012, will be applied to the light field pictures to enable viewing on any 3D display and to enable viewers to shift the perspective of the scene.
The Lytro has an instant shutter. With no need to auto-focus, the Lytro has no shutter delays. And by using all of the available light in a scene, the Lytro performs well in low-light environments without the use of a flash.
The Lytro light field camera is accompanied by Lytro’s desktop application, a free software download that easily imports pictures from camera to computer. Currently available for Mac OS X, the desktop application lets people view, interact with, organize and share their light field pictures. Lytro pictures can then be uploaded to Lytro.com to be shared via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or as links in email messages. Once shared, Lytro’s living pictures allow viewers to live the moment with the photographer and explore a scene like never before. Viewers can continually interact with Lytro pictures – focusing them over and over – expanding the creative possibilities of each and every shot.
Concepts related to the light field and computational photography have been researched in academic circles for more than a century. Light field science was the subject of Lytro CEO and Founder Ren Ng’s PhD dissertation in computer science at Stanford, which was awarded the internationally-recognized ACM Dissertation Award in 2007 as well as Stanford University’s Arthur Samuel Award for Best Ph.D. Dissertation. Ng’s research focused on miniaturizing light field technology into the body of a single camera to make it practical for everyday use.
“Light field photography was once only possible with 100 cameras tethered to a supercomputer in a lab,” said Ng. “Today it’s accessible to everyone in a camera that’s small and powerful, but incredibly easy to use. Our goal is to forever change the way people take and experience pictures, and today marks our first major step.”