A Scrabble board displayed with pieces arranged into the words “blurred,” “depth of field” and “focused.” Taken at an angle, the photo illustrates through lens focus and arrangement of the words in the foreground and background how the photographic concept of depth of field works.
Lytro focus-free cameras will shake up the consumer photography market. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Andy/Flickr)

Do you ever kick yourself when your photos turn out blurry? Lytro feels your pain, which is why company founder Dr. Ren Ng of Stanford University created what some tech journalists are calling the first focus-free digital camera. Using light-field technology, Lytro camera owners can point and shoot, then choose the plane of focus later, via computer.

Snapshots in a snap, without the worry

The ability to capture an image without having to worry about the proper focus first will redefine what it means to “point and shoot,” argues Mashable’s Chris Taylor. Lytro thinks focusing, adjusting light levels and waiting for a shutter click should become relics of a bygone age. Two-dimensional photos are also viewed as passe by this Silicon Valley startup, which is why the Lytro camera will also make producing 3-D photos easy.

Manipulate the visual field

Not only will the Lytro focus-free camera provide photographers with multiple focus options, the adjustment choices will theoretically be unlimited. The camera captures the light information and myriad adjustments are available in the simple post-production process. Place the lens focus anywhere you like, change the lighting and (in models with 3-D ready screens) take the standard 2-D image and convert it into something you can tilt and shift into alternative viewing angles in three dimensions.

According to Ng, the file size produced by Lytro cameras will not be prohibitively large when compared with average digital photos. On-board processors do much of the work, and because of the light sensor’s extreme sensitivity, even low-light situations can be captured without the use of a flash. Click anywhere within a photo to access the dizzying array of zoom and focus options. Lytro photos will even be embeddable in Flash or HTML5.

Bringing previously existing tech to the public

While some tech-savvy critics argue that Lytro is piggybacking on pre-existing technology like plenoptic lenses and wavefront coding developed by such companies as Adobe and OmniVision Technologies, respectively, Taylor suggests that what Lytro is doing with its new focus-free camera is combining concepts into what should prove to be a darling of a consumer device. Unlike predecessors like Instagram tilt-shift iPhone camera app, the Lytro will give consumers more focus options in post-production than were ever thought possible, thanks to light-field technology.

The Lytro focus-free camera reportedly will be available later in 2011, and the cost will be comparable to that of a standard high-end digital camera, says Ng.

Lytro: Unlimited focus, living pictures

Sources

Instagram: http://instagr.am/

Mashable: http://mashable.com/2011/06/22/lytro/

Plenoptic lens Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plenoptic_camera

Wavefront coding Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wavefront_coding

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