What if you could take a snapshot of anything, and then focus or blur it after the fact, without any Photoshop? It's now possible. Lytro, Inc. has just revealed a new consumer light field camera, which introduces 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 an 8x optical zoom and f/2 lens, creates interactive "living pictures" that can be endlessly refocused. 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 photos have to be read in a custom app, which is currently only available on Mac, but a Windows version is in development. There's also no flash, and the design isn't super easy to shove into one's pocket. But it's still a very unique product, but hardly a P&S replacement. More like a complementary tool for people who just love photography. It'll be available in both 8GB and 16GB models, storing 350 and 750 pictures respectively. In addition, our first camera owners will enjoy free storage for the light field pictures they've uploaded to Lytro.com.
It'll support 3D in 2012, and we're desperately hoping this kind of sensor can be crammed into a future smartphone or two.