Lytro has announced the first light field camera
that it will be selling to the public. Light field (also known as plenoptic) cameras use a special microlens array to capture pictures that can be focused after the fact, using a computer, on any part of the image.
Focused: The Lytro light field camera
The Lytro web site doesn't provide a lot of details about how the system -- from capture to viewing -- will work, but photographs taken with the camera, which Lytro calls "living pictures", must be viewed using software that allows real-time processing and interaction with the image. This is apparently possible now on Mac computers (the company says a Windows version of Lytro software is in development). For sharing online, it appears that pictures must be hosted on Lytro.com, which will serve the pictures and the necessary software to interact with them to web sites (your blog, for example), through email, and on sharing and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The camera itself appears to include minimal controls and few details are given on what camera functions can be adjusted other than exposure, which is apparently adjustable through a touch interface on the camera's 1.5-inch/33mm LCD display. The lens is an 8X zoom with a constant f/2.0 aperture, but the company does not say what angles of view it covers.
The camera's resolution is given as 11 megarays, which is defined as "the number of light rays captured by the light field sensor".
The Lytro comes in a version with 8GB of internal memory, which can hold 350 pictures, or a functionally identical version with 16GB of internal memory, which can hold 750 pictures.
The cameras will begin shipping in early 2012, according to the company. The 8GB version will cost US$399 in the U.S. and the 16GB version will cost US$499 in the U.S.