Lytro has announced its second plenoptic camera, bringing light field technology into a much more user friendly package. The Lytro Illum sports a 1″ sensor, 30-250mm equivalent constant aperture f/2.0 lens, and a 4″ touchscreen.
Light field or plenoptic cameras are fascinating. They capture 4D light information using a micro lens array, enabling you to alter framing and focus after a shot has been taken.
Despite being around for a while, this technology caused a stir around two years ago, when Lytro announced the Lytro Light Field Camera, one of the first consumer plenoptic cameras to be released.
Although labelled a consumer camera, the aesthetics left a little to be desired; it was essentially box with a lens on the front (not that we’re not used to seeing this form factor in many motion picture cameras nowadays!). Whilst the technology left most speechless with it’s potential, it was clear that the Lytro Light Field Camera would not be the plenoptic camera; we were looking at a mark 1 here.
The Lytro Illum shows much more potential, for starters it actually looks like a camera. The lens carries the same specification as the previous, an equivalent 30-250mm with a constant aperture of f/2.0. This time however we find a 1″ sensor hiding behind the glass; a much more desirable platform for photography than a sensor size similar to that of a smartphone (the previous Lytro camera had a 1/3″ sensor).
We also have a 4″ articulating touchscreen LCD, with a resolution of 800×480. If plenoptic cameras were measured in megapixels, it would output around 5 megapixels. But in light field terms it produces 40 megarays of angular resolution, nearly 4 times that of its predecessor.
The Illum shoots to SD cards, supports USB 3.0, and is constructed with a magnesium alloy body; it will carry a price tag of around $1500.
Never seen what a light field camera can do? Just check out this example
Still new technology in the consumer field, and perhaps still years away from any link with motion picture. But this is amazing technology. It can truly change the way you view images online. It offers a new form of interaction, creates another dimension.
I can see this working great with product imagery. But in the filmmaking world, it will be relevant where ever critical focus is in play. Imagine filming a tele focal tracking shot, and applying the focus in post so that it’s 100% spot on. Or even utilizing it in a completely different manner; allowing the audience to shift the focal plane whilst watching your film to unlock a new dimension to your plot, adding depth to your story.