Lytro Brings Pictures to Life

Stephen Yagielowicz

An intriguing technology known as light field imaging has hit the consumer market in the form of the Lytro Light Field Camera (www.lytro.com), a handheld point-and-shoot device that allows users to “take pictures like never before.”

According to Lytro, the first light fields were captured at Stanford University more than 15 years ago, with advanced systems that required a roomful of cameras tethered to a supercomputer.

An innovative new camera technology allows photographers to capture “living pictures” that viewers can interact with — and you can get it now, for $500.

Today, the company has taken this technology out of the research lab and made it available to everyone — including forward looking adult content producers.

“Unlike a conventional camera that captures a single plane of light, the Lytro camera captures the entire light field, which is all the light traveling in every direction in every point in space,” states the product’s website. “By instantly capturing complete light field data, the Lytro camera gives you capabilities you’ve never had in a regular camera.”

Those capabilities include the ability to “focus after the fact” — literally focusing and re-focusing on any point, anywhere in the picture, at anytime.

This capability eliminates the need for an auto-focus motor, which in turn eliminates the problem of shutter delay, allowing users to “capture the moment you meant to capture not the one a shutterdelayed camera captured for you.”

Lytro images are easily posted on Facebook and Twitter, shared via email or included in websites, for display flexibility. Viewers can interact with your living pictures on any device, including mobile phones, web browsers and tablets.

And the magic happens with the press of a single button — a simplistic operation that conceals the tremendous processing happening behind the scene, as the device substitutes powerful software and sophisticated algorithms for many of a more traditional camera’s internal parts — increasing speed, boosting low-light performance and ending vibration.

Boasting a sharp, 8X optical zoom lens with an f/2.0 aperture that remains constant across the zoom range; the Lytro Light Field Camera uses a special micro-lens array that enables its light field sensor to capture 11 million light rays, processing the resulting data with its sophisticated Light Field Engine 1.0.

Lytro says the light field fully defines how a scene appears and is the amount of light traveling in every direction through every point in space, providing more robust data than is used in regular photographs, as conventional cameras cannot record this light field.

“The light field sensor captures the color, intensity and vector direction of the rays of light,” the company explains. “This directional information is completely lost with traditional camera sensors, which simply add up all the light rays and record them as a single amount of light.”

Lytro notes that the astonishing capabilities of its light field cameras are suited to the rapid evolution of visual communications, and needed to meet consumer’s expectations.

“[Lytro] allows both the picture taker and the viewer to focus pictures after they’re snapped, shift their perspective of the scene, and even switch seamlessly between 2D and 3D views,” the company website states, adding that “with these amazing capabilities, pictures become immersive, interactive visual stories that were never before possible — they become living pictures.”

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