Light field photography

Camera equipment and technique for taking photos.
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Light field photography

Postby Bean » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:59 am

Just ran across this, and it's fascinating.

Digging in to the tech part of the website a bit and I think I'm starting to grasp at least a little bit of how it works. No focus issues, ever. Drawback seems to be huge file sizes (21-23MB) for fairly low-resolution images (no hard numbers to find but sounds like it's on the order of 1080P, ~2MP), but being able to set the focus however you want after the fact is interesting. Can't wait to see what comes of this in the future.

There's an almost-200 page dissertation on the website, so if anyone wants to really dig in to the science of it, you can.
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Re: Light field photography

Postby Jon Frohlich » Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:26 am

The idea is interesting but the execution of it is terrible. Rectangular box for a camera with no ability to expand the memory (from what I can see). It's not exactly ergonomic or something that makes sense to carry around. Completely lacking in most normal camera features. I can't imagine a single use of this thing aside from the novelty factor and that would get old fast.

Re: Light field photography

Postby Bean » Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:27 am

Consider it a proof of concept. The technology behind it and the possible future implications and implementations are what matters, not this individual product.
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Re: Light field photography

Postby CRSpeedy » Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:47 am

Wow, one of the coolest things I've seen in a while. I can't even begin to wrap my head around the science of it. I'm sure it will be a while before it's practical and used to its full potential, but I suspect it will eventually revolutionize the entire industry.

The files may be large, but it wont be long before we start seeing 1TB+ SD cards that will make the file size a non-issue.

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Re: Light field photography

Postby peter303 » Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:53 am

The principle as I see it is:
If you have one camera you get one image at one depth of focus;
If you have two cameras, you get stereo 3D, like our eyes;
What happens if you have a wall full of closely spaced cameras?
-you can construct an image for any depth of focus after recording the picture;
-you can construct 3D from any viewpoint on the camera plane;
-you can look behind corners and through keyholes: a special case of the previous two effects.
The set of all these raw camera images is called the lightfield.

I saw demos of all this at ACM SIGGRAPH meetings in the past decade or so.
Once cameras, disks and computers became cheap enough to do realtime video processing they could start playing these games.
In the beginning I saw camera walls of 15 to 25 cameras doing this.

The next innovation was to simulate a wall of multiple cameras with just a single hi-res camera.
The trick seems be in designing very special lenses.
Some people were playing with insect-like compound lenses to record a multplicity of mini-images on the same camera sensor. Then these are reprocessed in realtime to achieve the effect you want.

There are some Apps on smartphones that simulate a "poor mans" lightfield camera.
You take several shots spread out in space and computer computes special camera effects.

I wonder what kind of nature photography people will do with portable lightfield cameras?

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Re: Light field photography

Postby gsliva » Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:20 am

This looks like a feature that Nikon or Cannon could include on a normal body camera. I would bet they are working on it. Watch for patent infringement lawsuits on this one. Still pretty cool though and thanks.
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Re: Light field photography

Postby Dave B » Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:58 am

I see some really amazing macro photography coming out of this. Elaborate flash set ups, bellows, tripods etc will be unnecessary when you can make the entire FOV focused and not have depth of field issues up close.

More importantly, and from the dorky science side, this technology has huge implications as far as remote sensing goes. I've spent part of the summer trying to use photogametry to measure total surface area of leaves in a tree canopy (a very important measurement that is, traditionally, extremely labor intensive). This kind of technology will blow through these issues and circumvent the numerous problems I've run into trying to accomplish this with traditional photographic technology.
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Re: Light field photography

Postby ngoodnight » Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:49 pm

The CEO of Lytro is a former research colleague of mine. I haven't gotten my hands on one of these cameras, but I can vouch for the brains behind the product :) The team behind this technology is the best in the world. You can bet they have a serious roadmap for the future.

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Re: Light field photography

Postby Matt » Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:13 pm

I listened to this... on my way home from the mountains today. Light field photography seems pretty cool.
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Re: Light field photography

Postby JayMiller » Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:40 am

This is a cool idea. A huge downside I saw was the lack of Depth of Field. While playing around with their pictures, the DoF was exactly what you would expect with an aperture of f2.0. It makes the camera extremely limited.
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Re: Light field photography

Postby Bean » Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:43 am

You can set DOF in post.

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Re: Light field photography

Postby JayMiller » Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:17 pm

Bean wrote
You can set DOF in post

Could you tell me where you found the information? I have checked their website and blog carefully and have only found references to focus and being able to switch beween 2D and 3D. Nothing about Depth of Field. Depth of Field would be a game changer.
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