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Old October 19th, 2011, 09:53 PM   #1
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First commercially available light field camera

The price/performance isn't great at this point, but it's definitely a glimpse of the future of photography:

https://www.lytro.com/camera
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Old October 20th, 2011, 04:10 AM   #2
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Re: First commercially available light field camera

This was discussed on a thread a while ago. The fundamental problem is resolution - and it's notable that several people have posed exactly that question ("what's the output resolution?") on the Lytro blog, so far without an answer. The results may be fine for posting on a facebook page for people to play with, but useless for serious photography.

And the reasons behind it mean that it will be a very, very difficult problem to overcome, if at all possible, Not without a very, very large camera. (The problems are less to do with technology, more to do with underlying physics.)
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Old October 20th, 2011, 02:16 PM   #3
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Re: First commercially available light field camera

While I really want my own X-Wing with a hyper drive engine in it, I'd still be super excited if I ever got a chance to take a 2 hour trip into orbit above earth.

I'm excited by this camera, not that it is the end game of this technology, but that it is actually possible & something I can hold in my hand.

While the laws of physics can't be broken, it is possible to overcome them with a little human creativity & determination. Parabolic mics are great on the sidelines of a football game to pick up some of the on field sound, but not good for dialogue recording because of the physics. Parabolic microphone - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But if you leave it at that, no one would ever come up with a mic that can focus in one a single person talking in a loud sports arena. Squarehead Technology
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Old October 20th, 2011, 03:12 PM   #4
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Re: First commercially available light field camera

In reviewing their site yesterday, I saw a representation of "11 million rays" stated as the resolution. WHAT exactly that relates to is a bit tough to say, but if that means what I take it to mean, equivalent to roughly a 10-12 mega PIXEL camera, it's not too bad, and it'll come down to the processing software (Mac only to start... whoops, Windows coming... date unknown).

Don't know if one can really say that somewhat "idiot proof" shooting at this point is unreasonable - no need for camera skills other than "point" and press - focus and exposure are apparently handled "automagically", or in post. Reports are near instant on and shutter response - that's pretty impressive. Low light is supposedly very good, so much so they didn't bother with a flash...

The sample pix seem to be pretty good, and mostly oriented towards online display, but until more detailed reviews or hands on reports start to trickle out, hard to know what the little beast can do!

My first impression is the screen is terribly small in a 4" touchscreen world, not to mention "square" in a 16x9 world... and the design is "unique" - somehow looks to "fit" the "Mac user profile", but if it means better pictures for the "novice", can't be all bad?!

Certainly interesting tech, also "3D", so I guess now it's a "when does it do 60p/1080?" <G> question... there is apparenlty quite a lot of computing horsepower in that tiny box, so may be much magic to come! For a "first effort" that really has only been buzzing about for a short period of time (surfaced on the web earlier this year), they seem to be prepared to DELIVER on their promises in the timeframe they stated... not bad, some other companies could take notes...
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Old October 20th, 2011, 04:40 PM   #5
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Re: First commercially available light field camera

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Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
In reviewing their site yesterday, I saw a representation of "11 million rays" stated as the resolution. WHAT exactly that relates to is a bit tough to say, but if that means what I take it to mean, equivalent to roughly a 10-12 mega PIXEL camera, it's not too bad, ......
I really do hate to be a party pooper.... but... sorry, most of what is being said about this technology is pure optimism.

One way of visualising the technology may be to think that you are capturing at the same time a series of photographs, all focussed at different points in space. In simplest terms, the post refocussing means taking one of the planes in preference to another. Practically, it's possible to be far cleverer than that - selectively combining a number of planes, and weighting areas to certain planes means you can't just refocus, you can later choose depth of field etc.

That's the good side. Problems come in that you may need a hundred of more planes to be recorded. And final resolution is tied to the resolution of each plane. Hence, for a pretty modest 4 megapixel final output even, you would be talking aabout needing to generate and store around 100x that - 400 million pixels and that is what approximates to "million rays" - output resolution times number of planes.

It may even be optimistic to think the plane resolution wll be 640x480 (307,200 pixels). If we assume the 11 million ray figure, that's likely to mean only about 36 planes, which is probably a bit coarse for refocussing. The company haven't given out any figures for output resolution that I'm aware of, in spite of repeated requests by many people on their online blog. That lends weight to the likelihood that it's poor - more like 0.25 megapixel than 10 megapixel.

Zach, yes, you're right - the laws of physics can't be broken, but technology can overcome them. But let me pick up on the Squarehead Tehnology example you quote - "With sophisticated signal processing algorithms and several hundred microphones the AudioScope can isolate sounds and make them crystal clear, even in a noisy environment."

Yes, several hundred microphones. To say nothing of the processing needed. Isn't that roughly comparable to what I said? "........a very, very difficult problem to overcome, if at all possible, Not without a very, very large camera" A very, very large camera equating to "several hundred" microphones?
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Old October 20th, 2011, 10:38 PM   #6
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Re: First commercially available light field camera

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Originally Posted by Zach Love View Post
I'm excited by this camera, not that it is the end game of this technology, but that it is actually possible & something I can hold in my hand.
This somehow reminds me of Edwin Land. The good. The more good. And the bad. For sure I'll get one, just to see what it will do.
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Old October 21st, 2011, 06:22 PM   #7
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Re: First commercially available light field camera

I appreciate the forward thinking........keeping the innovations coming is what the progress of digital imaging is about- thumbs up!
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Old October 24th, 2011, 08:02 AM   #8
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Re: First commercially available light field camera

About five years ago I knew nothing about video and motion film cameras.

Since then I've read a lot by people who know much more than me. I also had the chance to listen to ASC's wax eloquently on what is or isn't possible/desireable.

Looking back on this education, many of the POV's expressed were spot on. But I have to say that in regards to the big picture of emerging technology, the experts were more often than I would have expected well off the mark.

This is not a slam by any means. Anyone who's been generous enough to share their wisdom with me is greatly appreciated :) :)! But a few grains of salt ready to stick between the teeth and gum is not a bad thing to have ;).
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Last edited by Peter Moretti; October 24th, 2011 at 08:36 AM.
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Old October 24th, 2011, 02:31 PM   #9
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Re: First commercially available light field camera

It says it produces HD quality pictures, so around 1-2MP I guess.

It would be cool if after effects would support this natively, I could see a lot of potential in using something like this for speciality things like title scenes or other info-graphics.
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Old October 24th, 2011, 06:34 PM   #10
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Re: First commercially available light field camera

Interesting you should say that because Adobe seems to be working on a somewhat parallel technology for Premiere Pro which they call "Mesh" or "Meshes." Here is a link to the "sneak" that Adobe recently put up.

MAX 2011 Sneak Peeks - MAX 2011 Sneak Peek - Video Meshes | Adobe TV

To me, this seems more like an AE than a PPro thing.
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Old October 24th, 2011, 07:31 PM   #11
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Re: First commercially available light field camera

Camera technology will never stop, duh...but of late we have a number of cameras that when mastered correctly can now be shown on the big screen, this is amazing.

Question is I want to buy one more new camera and I want it to be my last camera, for ten years or so. Assuming no leap in technology makes needing a new camera a must have, I really am hoping the next camera will be my last. The viewing public is not nearly as savvy as the camera people and editors are on this forum. What they are unforgiving about is the story.

It always has been and likely will continue to be all about the story. I don't need anymore camera quality, its already there!

I think the quality available in cameras in the $7000.00 range pretty much cover it, but one question I have not been able to answer is the difference between the $7k and $15k camera? The side-by-side camera shoot-outs don't show me $8k of a difference.

So if I had $15k to spend on a camera is there something gained by this price camera vs the $7k models?

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Old October 28th, 2011, 03:29 AM   #12
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Re: First commercially available light field camera

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Originally Posted by Nevin Styre View Post
It says it produces HD quality pictures, so around 1-2MP I guess.
Do you have a reference for that?

Looking at the website again I'm struck by the lack of information about resolution......
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Old October 28th, 2011, 01:50 PM   #13
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Re: First commercially available light field camera

No kidding about the lack of detail.

About all they say for "picture ouitput" in the specs is "Produces HD-quality interactive, living pictures." For "light field resolution" they say: "11 Megarays: the number of light rays captured by the light field sensor." These statements are found under "Details" at https://www.lytro.comcamera.

Who knows what those statements are supposed to mean for a still camera?
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Old October 28th, 2011, 02:22 PM   #14
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Re: First commercially available light field camera

The ? isn't if this is the Timex Sinclair ZX81 of light field cameras, it's how long till we see the HP Z800 version?
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Last edited by Peter Moretti; October 28th, 2011 at 03:03 PM.
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Old October 29th, 2011, 07:17 AM   #15
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Re: First commercially available light field camera

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Who knows what those statements are supposed to mean for a still camera?
By "megarays", in this context I understand the number of pixels in the fundamental image, multiplied by the number of focus planes. Hence, for a "11 megaray" camera you COULD have two simultaneous 5.5 megapixel images, with, say, one with plane of focus at infinity, the other at (say) 1 metre.

To acheive what they promise, the number of planes is certain to be a lot more than 2. I'd also expect far more than 11 - and that number would give the minimum base resolution to be really called "HD-quality". (1280x720 is roughly 1 megapixel.)

I suspect the "HD-quality" owes more to marketing than science - but lets see if the company ever release any more detailed specifications.

As far as the Sinclair quotes go, then don't underestimate the physics behind scaling the technology up. The problems Sinclair faced were technological, here they are down to laws of physics.
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