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Lytro Illum Light-Field Camera Lets You Refocus Pictures Later

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the shoot-and-point dept.

Technology 129

Iddo Genuth writes "Earlier today Lytro introduced a new light-field camera called Illum. This is the second camera with this innovative refocusing technology from the California based company founded in 2006. The new camera is a more advanced version of the first camera introduced in 2012. It has a much larger sensor with four times the resolution (Lytro still uses the term megarays instead of megapixels), a much larger and longer zoom lens with a f/2 constant aperture and of course the ability to refocus after you take a picture (the new Illum can refocus on many more points in the image compared to the older version). Users will also have more control of the camera, a larger screen, and the ability to create regular JPEG images or videos made from the refocused images they capture."

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IIIum? (5, Informative)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 8 months ago | (#46817371)

Is that IIIum, Illum, or IlIum?

The font slashdot uses makes it impossible to tell.

Re:IIIum? (2)

cruff (171569) | about 8 months ago | (#46817393)

Is that IIIum, Illum, or IlIum?

The font slashdot uses makes it impossible to tell.

Quite, but feel free to override their fonts to make it obvious. :-) I really hate sites that think setting a small font size is the right thing to do, and always have the minimum font size override turned on.

Re:IIIum? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46817411)

|||um, obviously.

Re:IIIum? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46817463)

LiLunn

Re:IIIum? (1)

Megahard (1053072) | about 8 months ago | (#46817569)

1lium

Re:IIIum? (2)

Ambvai (1106941) | about 8 months ago | (#46817733)

You must be the guy who read off my hotel confirmation to me...

Re:IIIum? (1)

Iniamyen (2440798) | about 8 months ago | (#46817681)

You forgot IIIum, IIIum, IIIum, IIIum, and IIIum.

Re:IIIum? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46818007)

Fnord.

Re:IIIum? (3, Informative)

BattleApple (956701) | about 8 months ago | (#46817739)

Illum

Re:IIIum? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 8 months ago | (#46817743)

ILLUM.

At least it's not ILEUM.

Re:IIIum? (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 8 months ago | (#46817807)

I'm just waiting for another two releases of this so I can have the Illum III

Re:IIIum? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 8 months ago | (#46817817)

I|lum

Re:IIIum? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#46817835)

]|[um.

Re:IIIum? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46818823)

This is why LastPass has a checkbox for "Avoid ambiguous characters" in generated passwords.

Already slashdoted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46817425)

Seems like site is having database problems.

Meh (4, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | about 8 months ago | (#46817465)

It's mostly a solution in search of a problem.

Photographers choose what to focus on very intentionally, it rarely makes sense to focus on anything else. Of course it's possible to misfocus, but in that case it makes no sense to let the user play with it.

It's still going to be low res, because you get a small fraction of the "megarays" the sensor provides. The spec for this camera was 40, IIRC, so it might get around 4MP, which can't really compete with a modern DSLR. While resolution isn't everything, having some margin for cropping and large prints is a very good thing.

The control for the interactive photos is still clunky. I can't find a way to for instance get the whole image in focus, though that should be possible. It does it while changing perspective.

It doesn't fix the other problem that leads to blurriness -- camera shake. It's all well and good to be able to refocus, but most people learn to focus right pretty fast. The problem is with low light environments, and this isn't going to save you if you handhold and shoot at 1/10.

The sample images still looks low res and blurry.

It costs $1600 and doesn't seem to have interchangeable lenses -- what, are they insane?

Overall interesting toy, but doesn't seem to have a practical use.

Re:Meh (1, Interesting)

brunes69 (86786) | about 8 months ago | (#46817541)

- Yes it is $1600 and 4MP. Do you know how much the first DSLRs were with only 1MP? Technology evolves.

- Why do you need interchangeable lenses when you can focus on or apply lens effects on whatever you want after the fact? You would not care about lenses with this kind of technology at all - in fact, the elimination of lenses means this technology could result in large cost savings over the long haul.

ignorant (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46817627)

You don't change lenses to change focus; modern lens assemblies move the lens to change focus, and move the aperature to adjust aperature. You change lenses to change the focal length (what zoom does) beyond the optical limits of the lens on the camera.

Re:ignorant (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 8 months ago | (#46817811)

I prefer the old ways.

To change focal length, change the lens.
To change the aperture, twist the aperture ring.

To focus the lens, twist the focusing ring.

To zoom, move closer to, or farther from your subject.

It may not make for better pictures, but it makes the process of taking them more enjoyable.

Re:Meh (4, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | about 8 months ago | (#46817665)

- Yes it is $1600 and 4MP. Do you know how much the first DSLRs were with only 1MP? Technology evolves.

The problem is that physics get in the way of resolution increases, and the best modern DSLRs already have a sensor that can out-resolve most lenses.

Which means that a Lytro style camera is going to necessarily sacrifice quality.

You can make a larger sensor, but that costs serious $$$. This thing is in the price range of a full frame camera. If I'm guessing right, to compete in quality with a normal one it'd have to go with a medium format sensor, and those start at around $10K.

- Why do you need interchangeable lenses when you can focus on or apply lens effects on whatever you want after the fact? You would not care about lenses with this kind of technology at all - in fact, the elimination of lenses means this technology could result in large cost savings over the long haul.

Because lenses have nothing to do with focusing? All lenses can focus at all ranges. You can't put a f/1.4 on this for shallower depth of field and better low light performance, or a 10mm wide angle, or a fish eye, or a better telephoto lens, or a tilt/shift for architecture.

It could however be very cool for macro, but oddly enough they don't seem to be hurrying to demonstrate that. Which is a pity -- extreme macro is a huge pain to focus, and that's the one area where this thing could show some promise.

Re:Meh (1)

jfengel (409917) | about 8 months ago | (#46818063)

You can't put a f/1.4 on this for shallower depth of field and better low light performance, or a 10mm wide angle, or a fish eye, or a better telephoto lens, or a tilt/shift for architecture.

I thought the point of this contraption was that those were things you could do after the exposure (except perhaps for the "low light performance"). Am I off base?

you're limited in what you can do in post (4, Informative)

Chirs (87576) | about 8 months ago | (#46818181)

The lens is F/2, so you can't get the equivalent brightness of an F/1.4 (though you might be able to get the depth of field in post-processing).

The lens is 30-255, which is pretty good range, but you can't swap it out to go wider/longer.

Tilt-shift type effects (angled focal plane) should be doable in post-processing, but it would depend if they've added that functionality to their software.

Re:you're limited in what you can do in post (1)

jfengel (409917) | about 8 months ago | (#46818669)

Thanks! I'd mod you "informative" but obviously... (It's actually giving me a mod drop-down box, but I know it wouldn't really work.)

Re:you're limited in what you can do in post (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 8 months ago | (#46819217)

I get what you're saying but in the practical world it makes no difference. No one picks f/1.4 because they need that low-light performance. At that aperture the depth of field starts border-lining into alternative art. I know very few situations where you would benefit from the light capturing capabilities in a situation so dark where it would be almost impossible to accurately focus the hairline depth of field on your subject.

Even the advent of high ISO cameras has seen many people get away from shooting f/2.8 with their zooms and picking a smaller aperture and putting up with the higher noise to compensate. The big lens for capturing light in my view is nothing more than a hack to get around film chemistry limits which have largely been shattered by modern sensors.

Mind you I do agree from an artistic point of view. I'm not sure if you can mimic an f/1.4 depth of field with this lens (I presume you can) but there's something to be said for using a fisheye lens or an ultrawide rectilinear.

Re:you're limited in what you can do in post (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 8 months ago | (#46819449)

I get what you're saying but in the practical world it makes no difference. No one picks f/1.4 because they need that low-light performance. At that aperture the depth of field starts border-lining into alternative art. I know very few situations where you would benefit from the light capturing capabilities in a situation so dark where it would be almost impossible to accurately focus the hairline depth of field on your subject.

Depth of field is also a function of range. If you're taking picture of a school play from halfway back in the auditorium, a fast lens will help quite a bit. The subjects are moving, so you can't use longer exposures and image stabilization is useless - you need a somewhat fast shutter. Flash on its own won't do any good at that range unless you can stick remote flashes on the stage or you're using something fairly exotic (and high-intensity flashes during a play aren't exactly unobtrusive). At a distance of 100+ feet the depth of field will be fairly significant, and when you get out further than that you're approaching the hyperfocal distance. At that kind of distance you get multiple foot depth of field even with a 200mm lens (certainly at any aperture you'll find on such a lens).

Sure, a faster sensor also helps, but every sensor degrades with increases in ISO.

Now, if you're doing photography where you can control the composition/lighting/etc, then the aperture is mainly for the sake of minimizing depth of field.

Re:you're limited in what you can do in post (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 8 months ago | (#46820095)

Fair call save for the comment on the sensor. Yes every sensor degrades with increased ISO. Yet every series of camera increases image quality at the same ISO too. About 5 years ago I would have happily stood next to you screaming for faster lenses. I was also worried about noise. My current camera, I get a decent image with an uninspiring lens in candlelight. Which brings me back to the whole using f/1.4 for artistic purposes more than anything.

On a side note have a look at the existing lens size and the flange distance. I'll hazard a guess they've hit some physical limitation on aperture with that camera design. Not that it's not fixable given they don't have a host of lenses to support :-)

Re:Meh (4, Informative)

NIK282000 (737852) | about 8 months ago | (#46818119)

The resolution at this point doesn't matter, this is a demo product that will only by bought by future investors and camera heads (quite possibly myself included). The
rest of your lens woes don't really apply with a plenopitc camera, the DOF is calculated when the image is made, if they can get DOF with unlimited depth they can
get ultra thin just the same way. They also boast that you can use lenses with no aspherical elements which means making addon lenses would be very cheap on
future versions of this camera. A tilt lens is not required with a plenoptic camera, it captures all parts in focus and then calculates the distance and angle you pick for
a plane of focus, you could even have a calculated "surface of focus" that is wavy or bent.
 
If they make enough on this one their next camera should be photographer's dream.

resolution will always be a problem (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 8 months ago | (#46818207)

It's a basic sampling problem. Instead of dedicating all your pixels to a single image, you're basically splitting them up and sampling many different images simultaneously. This will result in lower resolution in the final image than if you took that image with a "standard" camera. On the other hand, it makes it less likely that you'll miss a shot due to focus issues.

It's a tradeoff between resolution and flexibility.

Making the sensor much bigger would allow for more pixels, but would also be more expensive.

Re:Meh (1)

MildlyTangy (3408549) | about 8 months ago | (#46817879)

Why do you need interchangeable lenses when you can focus on or apply lens effects on whatever you want after the fact?.

Zoom.
Aperture.

Re:Meh (0)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about 8 months ago | (#46817589)

It costs $1600 and doesn't seem to have interchangeable lenses -- what, are they insane?

I may be wrong, but since it captures the rays themselves there's less need for various kinds of lenses -- you can just apply the distortions and the likes afterwards in software and achieve exactly the same result. Of course it doesn't completely remove the need for lenses, but it does lessen the need.

Re:Meh (3, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 8 months ago | (#46817983)

No, you can't. The simplest tradeoff that you might switch lenses for is aperture versus focal length. A larger aperture is good for low light. A longer focal length is good for things that are far away. You can fake a longer focal length by cropping your picture, but that reduces resolution (something this camera already has a problem with) and requires a lens with much higher resolving power (which is ALSO something this camera has a problem with).

Re:Meh (4, Informative)

bws111 (1216812) | about 8 months ago | (#46818243)

You seem to be confusing lenses and filters. Lenses are not used to 'apply distortions' (although a side effect of many lenses is distortion). Lenses are used to control what fills the frame of the picture.

I'll give you an example. Suppose you are on the sidelines at a football game, and want to take some pictures. One picture might be of what your eye sees - a good portion of the stands on the other side of the field, grass between you and the players, and the players. A better picture may be of only the player controlling the ball. A different picture may want to show mostly the stands, to show the size of the crowd.

A point and shoot camera, or a camera with a 'normal' lens is going to take the first picture. A telephoto lens would take the second picture (you could zoom in and get just the players face, including the sweat dripping from his hair), and a wide angle lens would take the third picture.

Now, why can't this camera elimate those lenses? Well, suppose you have a 10MP camera. In the wide-angle shot, the players face probably takes up .1% of the frame. If you are using all 10MP to capture the wide angle shot, your players face only uses about 10K of the pixels. If you try to blow the players face up to full-frame you have an extremely blocky picture with no detail at all. On the other hand, if you want to the players face to occupy 10MP, you need to capture 10 GIGA pixels in your wide angle shot.

Re:Meh (2)

lgw (121541) | about 8 months ago | (#46818491)

Well put, but don't forget "gather more light". The reason long lenses tend to be big lenses is to increase the area you're gathering light from. The smaller and more distant^2 your field of view, the less light you have to work with. A face at 100 yards is going to need a large lens surface to give the electronics something they can see.

Re:Meh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46817645)

It's a solution in search of a hipster wannabe photographer who thinks taking everything in HDR makes him/her a pro.

ur funnae (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46817657)

doesn't seem to have interchangeable lenses

Re:Meh (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46817673)

In a fast-paced environment like a concert or sporting event, the ability to literally point and click, and pull the best shots later, is a fantastic advancement.
I love my first gen Lytro. I've gotten some amazing shots from it.

Don't knock it until you've tried it.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46818409)

No it isn't; it throws away most of the light. Having played with one v.s. a lens at the same price point, I'll stick with a real camera and lens instead of a stunt that throws away a lot of light. Oh yeah, I get a lot of art out of controlling the shutter speed, which you don't.

Re:Meh (1)

quarterbuck (1268694) | about 8 months ago | (#46818711)

It isn't about throwing out light or not. It probably doesn't do the art you want either.
But I would buy it if gets comparably priced (or the same order of magnitude) as regular cameras. Going to a kids football/baseball game and getting a shot of touchdown or a runner being tagged out is worth a lot. My mid level SLR does not auto focus fast enough (or I can never set it right in manual mode properly to get many of the shots).There are many more soccer moms/dads in the world than serious photographers.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46818953)

There are many more soccer moms/dads in the world than serious photographers.

Yeah, but the large customer base for "real cameras" aren't serious photographers but artsy hipsters.
It is the customer base that made Apple rich. I wouldn't throw that away lightly.

Re:Meh (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 8 months ago | (#46818849)

Don't knock it until you've tried it and don't understand how to take a good photo.

FTFY.

Training wheels might seem like a godsend to the trike expert, but otherwise....

Re:Meh (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46819235)

I don't think you understood what he said. With a conventional camera, it's practically impossible to get a good shot of a fast moving object with a shallow DOF (placed where you want it) because of laws of physics and human reaction time. Focusing a conventional lens is a mechanical process that takes time, whether autofocus or manual. The Lytro removes this step so you can shoot as if you were shooting with a tiny aperture, but it still collects enough light that your shutter speed is fast, and you get real bokeh because the lightfield information is all there. It's fundamentally different in that this can simply not be done with a conventional lens. And yes, I'm a photographer.

Re:Meh (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about 8 months ago | (#46819819)

Ever hear of Sports Illustrated? They have thousands of photos of sporting events, in perfect focus and shallow DOF.

Re:Meh (3, Informative)

nine-times (778537) | about 8 months ago | (#46817693)

It's mostly a solution in search of a problem.

I think you're right that most people haven't been searching for this kind of camera, but I think you could have made the same argument about digital cameras in the first place, as well as computers in general. Things were just fine before. Professionals who were used to doing things the "normal" way saw them as more trouble than they're worth. They were expensive and had technical shortcomings when compared to the conventional solution.

However, it allows you to do something new that you couldn't do before. I'd say there's a good chance the technology will be refined and you'll see this sort of thing become cheaper and better. People will find cool and interesting applications. Something neat will probably come of this.

Re:Meh (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 8 months ago | (#46817869)

Most of the first DSLRs were sold to photojournalists who had deadlines. All the usual photographic tools for creating a record of the days events, without the hassle of developing film.

Re:Meh (2)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 8 months ago | (#46817949)

The Chicago Sun-Times decided to replace its photographers with iphones-- the result was notably less dramatic photos. I'm not sure what became of that experiment, but the Illum might be more useful than an iphone, as a trained photo editor could take the raw illum files gathered by print reporters and refocus them appropriately. I'm not sure that this would end up being ethical, though.

Re:Meh (1)

quarterbuck (1268694) | about 8 months ago | (#46818735)

trained photo editor could take the raw illum files gathered by print reporters and refocus them appropriately. I'm not sure that this would end up being ethical, though.
Why? They use filters all the time and often post-process for lighting both of which changes the amount of electrical engineering "information" in the picture. Post-focusing does not remove any information, it is information-wise similar to cropping a picture.

Re:Meh (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 8 months ago | (#46819051)

From the AP Code of Ethics

The content of a photograph must not be altered in Photoshop or by any other means. No element should be digitally added to or subtracted from any photograph. The faces or identities of individuals must not be obscured by Photoshop or any other editing tool. Only retouching or the use of the cloning tool to eliminate dust on camera sensors and scratches on scanned negatives or scanned prints are acceptable.
Minor adjustments in Photoshop are acceptable. These include cropping, dodging and burning, conversion into gray- scale, and normal toning and color adjustments that should be limited to those minimally necessary for clear and accurate reproduction (analogous to the burning and dodging previously used in darkroom processing of images) and that restore the authentic nature of the photograph. Changes in density, contrast, color and saturation levels that substantially alter the original scene are not acceptable. Backgrounds should not be digitally blurred or eliminated by burning down or by aggressive toning. The removal of “red eye” from photographs is not permissible.

source [ap.org]

Re:Meh (1)

quarterbuck (1268694) | about 8 months ago | (#46819537)

Precisely. Cropping, change of tone/color adjustments are OK. Also note that Dodging/Burning are basically blurring out areas that the photographer/editor does not want to focus on.
That said, they say blurring of backgrounds is not OK. Maybe this will require that the editor focus all visible elements of the photo and then change the color to hide the background again - this is also possible with Lytro since it does have the information available. But it is a strange way of hiding "information" to first focus and then decrease the intensity.

Re:Meh (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 8 months ago | (#46819625)

Hmm. That's an odd way of using dodging and burning. It's usually used to improve contrast by overexposing or underexposing selected areas of an image.

Re:Meh (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#46818123)

I see the eventual benefit being something like a security cam with CSI-like refocusing capabilities. It may be 3+ generations away, but it's getting more possible.

Zoom. Enhance.

Re:Meh (1)

vadim_t (324782) | about 8 months ago | (#46818333)

Except you get much less zoom and enhace with this thing because you reduce your resolution to 10% of the sensor's capability for the sake of the depth of field control. A 40mp sensor turns into a 4 mp one. A face 100 pixels wide on an image is useful. A face that's 10 pixels wide, rather less so.

For CSI you'd want the near opposite of this camera: high resolution, a small aperture to keep everything at once in focus, focused to infinity, and excellent low ISO performance to compensate for the small aperture.

Re:Meh (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#46819121)

But then you can't enhance. And I remember when "VGA camera" was a standard to be aspired to. Now I own no less than 3 10+ megapixel cameras, 10+ MP in a phone that cost about $500 without any contracts/subsidies. The dedicated camera cost more than that, but has more features. Sadly, the camera in the phone is almost exactly what you are asking for.

Re:Meh (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 8 months ago | (#46818457)

Actually - even if the photographer retains full creative control, being able to fine-tune focus later is good. Just like camera raw where the parameters can be adjusted later.

Especially if your vision isn't 20/20 looking through that little viewfinder lens.

Gen 1 camera (1)

peterofoz (1038508) | about 8 months ago | (#46817535)

I just got the Gen 1 version of the camera. I like the small package size and the small price. You can use it to just take regular pictures, but you can have a lot of fun composing creative photos that takes advantage of the refocus capability to tell a story in the photo using the foreground and and the background as distinct photo elements. For example, a foreground subject tells one story, but refocus on the background element and the meaning of the story suddenly changes in a surprising way. Fun.

Re:Gen 1 camera (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 8 months ago | (#46817695)

So you can make crappy YouTube slideshows with bad music and a boring voiceover.

Re:Gen 1 camera (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 8 months ago | (#46817745)

Boooo. Lytro is a genuinely innovative camera, and I applaud them for that. What the artistic payoff turns out to be, only time will tell, but it's worth exploring.

Re:Gen 1 camera (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 8 months ago | (#46818145)

I just got the Gen 1 version of the camera. I like the small package size and the small price. You can use it to just take regular pictures, but you can have a lot of fun composing creative photos that takes advantage of the refocus capability to tell a story in the photo using the foreground and and the background as distinct photo elements. For example, a foreground subject tells one story, but refocus on the background element and the meaning of the story suddenly changes in a surprising way. Fun.

Can't you do this with a regular DSLR and software? Your whole image is focused and then with software blur the parts you don't want to have attention? How is that different than using a special camera and using software to change the focus.

Re:Gen 1 camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46818217)

Or just take two pictures. One focuses on the foreground and one on the background. If you spent the time to compose the shot to match a story, that couldn't be very hard to do. Certainly not something you need an entire camera for. Certainly not one that has so low a resolution. Resolution is sacrificed for this trick.

2D resolution (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about 8 months ago | (#46817537)

Since the short excerpt doesn't mention this I thought to mention: their forums say Illum produces a 4 megapixel image once it's exported in a regular 2D format.

Re:2D resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46817661)

It has a horrible color response, as well. Shots look like they came from a digital camera built over 10 years ago.

Re:2D resolution (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 8 months ago | (#46817707)

Too bad they didn't make it to 8Mp. That would give video producers a bunch of creative options while working in 4K. Next rev!

Re:2D resolution (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 8 months ago | (#46817803)

How directly comparable are the megapixel figures anyways? To start with, I don't think Lytro has a bayer filter, and it is less sensitive to lens quality.

Re:2D resolution (5, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 8 months ago | (#46818057)

The megapixel figure is the comparable number. The Lytro not only has a Bayer filter, it also has another filter that uses multiple pixels to measure the direction of the light. So you take your raw sensor, that might capture 40 MP, divide that by whatever number you like for Bayerization to get colour, and divide that by some other number (about 10 for Lytro's products) for the directional sensing.

Re:2D resolution (1)

gmueckl (950314) | about 8 months ago | (#46819053)

That would be the equivalent of a 80 megapixel raw video in order to retain all the viewing/editing capabilities afterwards... storing that away in real time isn't yet economic. And I honestly have no idea if there is a decent compression scheme for the data, either.

Re:2D resolution (0)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 8 months ago | (#46818187)

Since the short excerpt doesn't mention this I thought to mention: their forums say Illum produces a 4 megapixel image once it's exported in a regular 2D format.

That makes sense because I would assume it is actually taking a bunch of images at various focal lengths and superimposing them, but once you decide what you want, it has to write out a legitimate file. Lenses are lenses and once the light rays hit the film or sensor, other than trying to sharpen an image through extrapolation, it's too late to change focus. Physics simply doesn't allow an out of focus image to somehow become focused.

Re:2D resolution (0)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 8 months ago | (#46818191)

Since the short excerpt doesn't mention this I thought to mention: their forums say Illum produces a 4 megapixel image once it's exported in a regular 2D format.

That makes sense because I would assume it is actually taking a bunch of images at various focal lengths and superimposing them, but once you decide what you want, it has to write out a legitimate file. Lenses are lenses and once the light rays hit the film or sensor, other than trying to sharpen an image through extrapolation, it's too late to change focus. Physics simply doesn't allow an out of focus image to somehow become focused.

Re:2D resolution (1)

gmueckl (950314) | about 8 months ago | (#46819085)

As far as I remember, the Lytro cameras use a micro-lenslet array to refocus the image differently for different patches on the sensor. So it is recording multiple focal planes at once. But when you dig a bit into light field representations and light field interpolation (e.g. the original light field and lumigraph papers), then you'll probably see that you can process the data in more interesting ways than simply flipping through a focal stack.

Re:2D resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46819285)

That makes sense because I would assume...

You assume incorrectly. Two minutes on google/wikipedia and/or refraining from making uninformed comments on topics of which you know little is infinitely preferable to plucking pronouncements about what physics "allows" from thin air.

OK so I have been around but I have never seen (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46817593)

and I mean never, ever, not once, in a million years, or twenty is closer to the truth, a black Russian.

Re:OK so I have been around but I have never seen (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46817725)

It's because russians are white niggers.

Re:OK so I have been around but I have never seen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46818257)

I thought that white niggers were in Texas?

Still hoping they make a movie camera (4, Interesting)

Thagg (9904) | about 8 months ago | (#46817917)

For still photography, focus isn't a terribly hard problem to solve. Autofocus works, and DSLRs let you compose, focus, and shoot manually as well. Easy peasy.

On the other hand, for movies shot using large-format sensors, focus is a huge issue. The amount of work spent following focus on a movie is significant, and it fails more often than you might think. Modern lenses are incredibly sharp, but they have such a tiny range that is in perfect focus that they are hard to use. Admittedly, the people who use these cameras and lenses are professionals with years or decades of experience, and they do well... ...But -- if we could focus our shots after the fact, it would be a true game changer for movie making. We could chose just what part of the scene should be in focus, and change that throughout the shot easily. Yes, this moves yet another part of the movie making process into post, but that's not a bad thing. As other people have suggested at other fora, editing/coloring/framing and visual effects are all done in post, and it helps make better movies. This would help too. Having the depth maps automatically generated would make visual effects easier and better as well.

I recognize that the amount of processing that goes on to make these images makes a motion picture camera a challenge, and the number of high-end motion picture cameras is probably a tenth of a percent of the DSLRs that are made, at most. Still, we could just capture the 40 MRays and do the processing later; storage and networks are getting faster and larger all the time.

Come on, Lytro! Make it happen!

Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (3, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#46818173)

Then they could finally do 3D right. I hate 3D movies because movies like Avatar make me ill. They are much more enjoyable in 2D. Why? Because directors (even 3D ones) still think in 2D. The scenes where the director has foreground shrubbery to help set setting and such, the plants are out of focus because the focus range is so small, but jumping out at you because they are closer. For 3D, if you are using 3D for depth, not just an occasional shark-jumping-out-of-the-screen moment, everything should be in focus. Let the 3D provide the depth, and let the viewer selectively focus. But forcing us to look at the actors because they are the only thing in focus, while forcing us to look at blurry plants because they are jumping out at us will always get a poor result.

3D will never look right if the same movie is watchable in 2D. But since everything is dual-D, none will be right for both. And that's a director problem.

Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | about 8 months ago | (#46818339)

This is exactly what I was thinking when I read the article summary. We might finally get non-animated 3D movies where most of the field of view can be in focus at the same time. 3D movies give my Wife headaches because her eyes are always trying to focus on the wrong things when they pass in front of the camera.

Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 8 months ago | (#46818877)

So your brain still hasn't learned that people are more important than plants?

Please don't blame technology for the fault of yourself.

Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#46819101)

I can't see the people for the out-of-focus plants blocking the view. Put them in focus, and I'll look where I'm "supposed to". But no, we get 2D depth forced on us in 3D movies, making some people ill, regardless of where we look (unless, like the Bourne movies and Blair-witch look alikes, we close our eyes for the shaky parts).

Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 8 months ago | (#46819425)

No, it's not regardless of where you look. It just so happens you aren't looking at the proper places and there's a reason for that.

I used to have the same thing, until I learned that social norms have drishti just like yoga asanas.

Sigh, i thought I was being safe, exposing myself to 3d reality only on my commute into and out of the city. Beware! Two hours of reality exposure a day is the gateway to wanting the shiny!!!

Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#46819681)

No, it's not regardless of where you look. It just so happens you aren't looking at the proper places and there's a reason for that.

Yes, it's the user's fault that the product is faulty. They are using 2D cues to remove focus and 3D cues to emphasize focus. It's that conflict that is the problem, not where I'm looking.

Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 8 months ago | (#46820549)

No, it's where you're looking. Why can't you be happy looking where everybody else is looking?

The tech isn't broken just because of a small minority of 'special' people like you don't know how to take in a scene. Why don't you stop being special and just watch it the way everybody else does?

Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (1)

Arkh89 (2870391) | about 8 months ago | (#46820309)

Let the 3D provide the depth, and let the viewer selectively focus.

Selectively focus on? On the screen of the theater???
Everything will be in-focus at the same time, which would contradict the stereo depth... Thus, the brain would also get dizzy...
No solution here, dump stereo 3D...

Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#46820399)

For movie screens, everything is at screen distance, which is sufficiently infinity for the focal length. The effect you mention doesn't bother me, just when the deliberately out-of-focus parts are in the fore of a 3D scene. The 3D makes them jump at you, but you can't focus on them, because they were recorded out of focus.

Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (3, Informative)

JerryLove (1158461) | about 8 months ago | (#46818193)

For still photography, focus isn't a terribly hard problem to solve. Autofocus works, and DSLRs let you compose, focus, and shoot manually as well. Easy peasy.

Depends on what you are shooting and what you are shooting with. Bird moving through foliage at low F value? AF is likely to grab foliage. Something really close to camera and moving randomly? That can be a problem too. Baby waving arms... make sure you get focus to the face: AF (esp phase-focus) is likely to get the nearest object rather than the correct one. Contrast focus (and phase focus on-sensore, as with Canon 70D) can add face / eye detect, but (except the 70D) at the cost of speed (so moving objects are a problem again).

Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 8 months ago | (#46818237)

If you use a high enough f-stop, then more of your image is in focus at any given focused point. You could have a movie camera with multiple sensors set at overlapping focal points to have a seamless all in focus shot. You could then use software to imitate the out of focus portions. But, why? A good director already knows the shot they want and what should and should not be in focus. Using such a system would be akin to a singer using a voice box to make them sound in key. With so many crappy movies (and songs) these days, do we really need to make it easier to produce more crap?

Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 8 months ago | (#46818619)

Focus is a horrible problem to solve.

"real" photographers don't use auto-focus, because you're almost guaranteed that it will focus on the wrong thing. When I'm taking point-and-shoot pictures with pocket camera, I have to be careful, and hope that nothing distracts the camera. When I'm doing serious photography with my nicer cameras, it stays in manual mode.

Unfortunately, this camera looks cool, but it would be relegated to use like my nice DSLRs are. I bring them with me when I'm doing a shoot. It's silly to carry it with me everywhere. I did for quite a while, but eventually it became too much trouble, and I realized i was taking snapshots with my phone more than the DSLR. Eventually, it was more like thief bait, because it just sat in the back seat of my car waiting to be used.

I'd love to give this iiium (lllum? lilum? ilium?) a test drive. I'll let my friends know, if they happen to win the lottery, I'd like one to be delivered in my new Bugatti Veyron (I hope my newly rich friends will be generous).

Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46818799)

It already exists:
http://www.raytrix.de/

Re:Still hoping they make a movie camera (1)

gmueckl (950314) | about 8 months ago | (#46819173)

Alright, I've mentioned elsewhere in this discussion that recording the whole light field data at decent framerates isn't currently possible in an economically feasible way. It could be done if you throw enough money at the problem, but at that point it's cheaper to redo the shot a couple of times.

Hm, I'm not sure that this kind of camera is able to generate good depth maps. The visualization that helps adjust the focal range in this demo video illustrates the point: it is basically an edge detection filter run on each focal depth that gets recorded. If it finds an edge thin enough then that area must be in focus and gets highlighted. This is why edges get highlighted, but not surfaces with low frequency textures. Finding the sharpest image of a low frequency texture in a focal stack is not a simple thing and this is where the generated depth maps will also break. The nasty part about this is that all the large and rather flat areas in your image will end up suffering.

Utility (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 8 months ago | (#46817995)

I think all crime scene photographers should get these cameras.

Proprietary image format (5, Insightful)

gerddie (173963) | about 8 months ago | (#46818021)

I was considering getting the first version of their camera, but they use a proprietary image format for the original data and requests to open it are unanswered so far [lytro.com] . Not even a SDK is provided to access the original data even though it was promised [lytro.com] . Kind of disappointing and enough reason for me not to buy.

Re:Proprietary image format (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46818335)

They're APL fanbois piloting this company. Assume anything coming out of them is PR doublespeak and will remain closed and proprietary regardless of the origins of the technology.

Re:Proprietary image format (1)

grouchomarxist (127479) | about 8 months ago | (#46818637)

They're fans of APL [wikipedia.org] ? I didn't know there were any still around.

Point and shoot (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 8 months ago | (#46818073)

I assume you can post-process to get super depth of field without needing to stack images (which is obviously a problem when the subject is moving). Pretty cool product.

Re:Point and shoot (1)

dfghjk (711126) | about 8 months ago | (#46818291)

"Super depth of field" is meaningless without standardizing resolving power. A single pixel image has infinite depth of field after all.

A 40MP camera that renders a 4MP final image gains an inherent 3x increase in perceived depth of field just due to the lost resolving power of the anemic output resolution. When seen in this context, it's not really a cool product at all.

If you took at 40MP conventional sensor and stopped the lens down until diffraction limited the resulting sharpness to 4MP, you would have a soft images with "super depth of field". Can Lytro beat that? No. Can Lytro produce a sharper image when DOF requirements are lower? No. Conventional imaging can. Lytro allows you to refocus after the fact but what it requires is that you accept terrible resolution always. It is a crappy imager for people who don't know any better.

You have to compare what the the camera is capable of to what you could otherwise do with the same sensor and a conventional approach. Lytro isn't interested in that comparison at all.

Re:Point and shoot (1)

Arkh89 (2870391) | about 8 months ago | (#46818625)

Yeah but now you are at f/8, not f/2 anymore. So you lose a great deal of energy (interesting for low light scenes).

Re:Point and shoot (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 8 months ago | (#46819077)

What you say about image quality is true today, but not necessarily true next year. The reason I used "Point and shoot" as the subject is because most people who take pictures don't have the skill or knowledge to make depth of field or even focusing decisions when a shot presents itself. They set it on auto exposure/auto focus and hope it comes out. Lytro's technology gives the option of making those decisions during post-processing.

f/8 and be there (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46818483)

Shoot at f/8+.
Apply dynamic blur via photoshop or plugin.
Done.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT! IT'S THE LYTRO!!! (1)

simplypeachy (706253) | about 8 months ago | (#46818615)

http://lewiscollard.com/camera... [lewiscollard.com]

I was hoping to read the comments here and find other people asking "Wait, /. didn't get the Lytro joke the first time around?" Where are you, people :-(

It's still nothing more than a party gimmick (1)

ffkom (3519199) | about 8 months ago | (#46818739)

The "advertisement" video they posted on youtube actually delivers all the reasons you need to know why not to buy this camera.

The resolution is way too bad even for display on an ordinary 1920x1080 display. Stair steps visible all over the place. The color rendering is horrible, like in some old mobile phone camera. Plus there are artefacts to see where details should be.

Seriously, this is still nothing more than a party gimmick. "Refocus" your first few snapshots, enjoy for a minute, then the "something new" effect is over and what stays is the terrible image quality.

The only resonable use cases for lightfield cameras are currently industrial applications, and those are addressed much better by the Raytrix [raytrix.de] product line.

How does it compare to the HTC M8 cam? (1)

stevewa (930967) | about 8 months ago | (#46818915)

The capabilities sound very similar to the dual-sensor setup in the HTC One M8, right down to the 4MP resolution. HTC managed to get that in a $650 smartphone...

So... (0)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#46819493)

So we have a $1500 camera with a pretty piss poor design ergonomically, that takes picuteres that can only be viewed via propriety software? Yep, sounds like an apple product alright.

It's still a solution without a problem. (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 8 months ago | (#46819959)

It's still a one-trick pony, and not a trick that many people need to do very often. Sure, a professional may invest in any number of specialized $1,200 tools to get images under special situations. It's just the idea that this revolutionizes the field of photography, or that _everyone_ needs this to get good pictures of Tommy blowing out the candles on his birthday cake, that's crazy.

I cannot think of a single time in my life when I wanted to press the button once and get two different images, one with subject A in focus and subject B blurred, and the other with subject A blurred and subject B in focus.

If this camera could take "deep focus" pictures, a la _Citizen Kane_, in which all objects at all distances were in focus at the same time, that would be mildly useful and a lot of amateur photographers would like it, even if the effect were a little boring. But, as nearly as I can tell, it can't.

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