Thursday, October 20, 2011

Is this the iPod of photography?

Really what brought me back to my blog is the interesting Lytro "Light Field Camera" that was introduced a couple of days ago. What I wrote in the previous post is true... I've deleted a few drafts of posts because I was worried I'd be foaming at the mouth by the end of them, and to describe some of the thoughts I've had about various political stooges as "uncharitable" is an understatement of cosmic proportions.

Now, though, I've found something really interesting and cool that I want to babble about. This is the first really different camera since decent-quality video cameras got small enough to carry around anywhere. It's made possible by a quantum leap in both coding and processing power, allowing a personal computer and one small, elegantly simple camera do what just a few years ago took an array of cameras and some heavy-iron-level computing power to do.

Instead of taking a single point-of-focus photo like we've been doing for 150 years, the Lytro records all of the light getting to the sensor, grouped into "rays." Lytro says the image quality is "11 megarays" and the system uses post-processing to determine a point of focus from the field of rays. So, while in the system's native format, the images are "live." You can focus in on different parts of the field of view.

The camera itself seems very straightforward and has an elegantly simple design. It has a power button, a zoom slider and a button to record the image as well as some touchscreen functionality on the viewscreen. Aim it at what you want to photograph, perhaps zoom and compose a bit to get the overall contents of the shot right, click the button once and have the chance to decide what is and isn't in focus later. Now THAT is what I call a point-and-shoot! I can't wait to play with one. Perhaps this will be a device that shakes up the world of photography like the iPod changed the way we listen to music.

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