Is it a flashlight? One of those handy-dandy laser pointers? The realization of the mind-eraser from Men in Black!? No, none of the above, but it is the new piece of camera technology poised to take the photographic world by storm.
Lytro, the Silicon Valley start-up pioneering light-field technology, finally unveiled the first camera to contain such abilities. The tiny, rectangular point-and-shoot boasts 8X zoom lens with a constant f/2 aperture, up to 16GB of internal memory, and an 11 mega-ray Lytro sensor, capturing eleven million rays of light. A mega-ray is the new measure of which a light-field camera captures the direction, color, and intensity of available light, and its in the manipulation of that light where the Lytro cameras main selling point lies.
“Living pictures” is what Lytro is calling the ability to “shoot first and focus later.” These cameras have no autofocus mechanism within their small, 4.4 inch X 1.6 inch square chassis because there’s just no need for one. Each photo captured has the ability to be re-focused either on the camera, on the Lytro desktop client, or even online! A truly revolutionary bit of technology that serves as the core for attribute of light-field technology. Take a look at the video below which does a great job at detailing how this exactly works:
Hands-on overview courtesy of Engadget:
The Lytro camera will start shipping in early 2012 and are currently on a first-come-first-serve, pre-order basis. Two models will be available for purchase: The 8GB, Graphite and Electric Blue models will retail for $399 and the 16GB “Red Hot” version will set you back $499.
No matter what side of the fence you are on, for or against, a subscriber to light-field technology or not, one thing is for certain, these camera have a market. While Photo enthusiasts will surly denounce this as a “dumbing-down” of photography, the fact remains: This technology is impressive and will continue to evolve, the question is, will you be along for the ride?