Stanford PhD Delivers New Focus "LATER" Camera

On Wednesday, October 19, 2011 0 comments

Today at an event in San Francisco, creator Ren Ng demonstrated his company's (Lytro) brand new camera architecture that allows a very bright F/2 lens with an 8x optical zoom to capture the entire viewable scene within a new file format. It is quick with instant shutter lag. Each picture is roughly 22 megabytes in size which would make it comparable to a RAW file captured in a high-end Digital SLR camera.

What is captured by the camera is quite different than traditional cameras today. Lytro's light-field technology creates a new, proprietary file called and LFP. Inside of this file is what Ng called "11 mega-rays" of data. Thus the camera's light-field sensor can capture more than 11,000 points of light in each picture. This data can then be processed currently on a Macintosh application to create 2D or 3D imagery, changes to the focus and outputted at an assortment of sizes.

Ng has won awards on this area of research and the Lytro company was formed with $50 million in funding to produce this camera. Ng says the camera will go on sale in early 2012 in a $399 (8 gigabyte - 350 pictures) and $499 (16 gigabyte - 750 pictures) formats.

There is a lot of unanswered questions but the demos today were impressive. There are supposedly a set of accessories like a tripod mount. There is no flash, no Windows support, no video capture, no evidence of GPS, no expandable memory and no wi-fi connectivity.

It is also unclear what the images look like at higher resolutions for print applications. Lytro keeps referring to high-def which basically refers to 1080p resolution. The demos today were outputted to TV's and Facebook at 1080x1080 resolution. The images can be shared online and even allow viewers to manipulate the pictures themselves.

While it has a long list of short-comings, the instant picture aspect is very enticing. You can preorder the camera here it you want to be the first on your block. I think I'll wait a bit.



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