Camera lets shutterbugs shoot first, focus later
Published Tuesday, June 28, 2011 10:09PM EDT
Getting the perfect shot can be a big challenge even to the most skilled photographers. But a new camera promises that even amateur shutterbugs can get their subjects in focus each and every time, with a little help from a computer.
The Lytro, a focus-less digital camera, allows users to take a photograph and then decide later which part of it to focus on.
"Shoot first, focus later," the company boasts on its website. "That's right, after. You can't miss."
Using software called "light field technology," the camera captures light from every possible direction through each point in space within the shot, which is known as the light field. A sensor on a conventional camera cannot capture the entire light field, merely adding up all of the rays in a shot and recording them as a single point of light.
Capturing the entire light field essentially provides the camera with far more data than a regular sensor in a conventional camera. When viewing the image on a computer, this allows the photographer to shift between 2D and 3D views of the picture, shift his or her perspective of the scene, and, with a simple click of a mouse, decide which part of the image to bring into focus.
Toronto Sun photographer Jack Boland said that in an ideal world, he would be able to capture "that tack sharp photo every time," but it's not always possible.
"Sometimes you're like ‘Damn, I saw that in the background, I wish it was a little sharper,'" Boland told CTV News.
Light field technology originally involved using numerous cameras to capture light from every direction through each point in space, something known as the light field, which a conventional camera cannot capture.
The technology was developed by Ren Ng while he was earning his PhD at Stanford University.
Ng has since adapted the technology for a single, pocket-sized point-and-shoot camera. He believes he will also be able to develop the technology to one day work in video cameras.
Ng says the company is "using advanced technology to make simpler, faster magical cameras, that's what we're trying to do."
Boland says to him, the technology "sounds space age. Although what we've gone through with guys using film right up to digital now, it doesn't surprise me."
The company hopes to start selling the camera later this year, but what the cost will be to customers is not yet clear.
With a report from CTV's John Vennavally-Rao