Tech Beat: Lytro uses light field camera technology to give pics new "perspective"
A digital camera that launched with the ability to do what no other digital camera can is now give its pictures a new "perspective." Technology reporter Adam Balkin filed the following report.
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The Lytro is a simple, long rectangular box, but it is one of the most sophisticated cameras money can buy. It's actually a light field camera, which means it captures much, much more light than a traditional camera, so taking a photo is like taking one photo with a room full of cameras.
The initial selling point for the technology is that users can shift the focus of a picture after they take the shot, but now the camera allows another feature called perspective shift. The user can move the shot around and make the perspective of the picture alter slightly.
"From the same light field data our customers have been taking already with the cameras, you can make your picture come into three dimensions by changing the perspective, the view you're seeing. The perspective will shift as if you were there by moving just slightly side to side," says Ren Ng, the founder of Lytro. "What this does is, and you can try this yourself, when examining an object, it really shows you what's closer and further in a sense. We call it the 'parallax' in the industry or computer graphics research. What is means is it's one of the most powerful effects for really giving you a sense of being there and being immersive."
Developers have also unveiled living filters, filters that go beyond the simple turn a color photo into black and white.
"We have nine living filters that folks can play with and it gives a new set of creative options for people to really personalize the pictures," Ng says. "Think about a black and white picture. Now, since it's taken with a light field camera, you can change the focus, amazing. But what if when you click and it comes into focus, that saturation of the photo comes back so that part comes into color to really emphasize."
The Lytro camera costs $400 for the 8-gigabyte version and $500 for the 16-gigabyte version. Developers say since much of how it works is through software, the camera will only gain more and more functionality with time.