From Ben Horowitz’s blog:
People often refer to taking a picture as capturing the moment, but conventional photography does not really capture the moment. It captures one angle, one set of light, and one focus of the moment. If you are a professional photographer, you might capture the best parts of the moment. If you are someone like me, you most certainly will not. With Ren’s light field camera, you actually capture the moment or at least all of the light that visually represents the moment.
Once you have captured the moment, you can go back at any time and get the picture that you want. Specifically, after you take the picture, you can refocus, re light, and re-orient the shot.
Essentially, you can take the picture you wish you would have taken after the fact. If you are used to the old paradigm, it’s like travelling backwards through time. You can take a picture then figure out what you really wanted then go back through time and take that picture. And oh by the way, you can view the pictures in 3D. Way.
You may be thinking that this is all good and fine, but is there really a market for a magic camera? It turns out that the three biggest frustrations with conventional plane-of-light cameras are:
- They are too slow—It turns out that auto focusing takes a fair amount of time. How many times have you tried to capture a moment only to have the moment disappear while you were waiting for your camera to focus?
- The pictures aren’t bright enough—Somehow, you didn’t actually capture enough light on the plane to get the shot you wanted.
- They are too complicated—Current cameras provide lots of buttons and knobs to overcome the one plane limitation, but the result is a super complicated device.
With Lytro’s light field camera, you take pictures instantly. No need to focus, because you can do that later. The camera uses all of the available light in the scene, so you can take photos in very low light environments even without flash. With no buttons for special focus, the Lytro camera is dead simple.
I wonder if you can do this for moving images. Talk about ratcheting down production times and ratcheting up post-production!