The world's first 'shoot first, focus later' camera has gone on sale - an entirely new technology that early reviewers have described as 'a revolution in photography.'
The tiny $400 'light field' Lytro camera offers effectively takes every possible picture at once, ‘focusing’ on everything in a picture in one shutter-click.
The technology inside is so revolutionary that Apple CEO Steve Jobs reportedly met with Lytro to discuss building the technology into future models of iPhone.
The tiny $399 camera is a 'light field' camera - the first pocket-sized, consumer version. It effectively takes every possible image at once, and you sift through afterward for the perfect shot
When you look at Lytro pictures via a PC, mobile phone or tablet, the pictures aren't stored as still photographs, they're stored as animations - you can simply touch on anything in the photo to focus on it.
The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg said that the camera was 'a revolution in consumer photography, with more benefits to come.'
Other reviewers were more reserved, saying the camera's lack of flash held it back - but most agreed that the new technology was one to watch.
The camera's makers are a Silicon Valley start-up that secured $50 million in funding.
The idea isn’t new – but early ‘plenoptic’ or ‘light field’ cameras were room-sized lens arrays attached to high-powered computers. The Lytro is pocket-sized – and could turn the world of photography upside down.
The ‘focused’ images have all already been taken – the camera ‘sucks in’ all available light in front of it, and stores all the information ready to digest.
You can trade Lytro's image files as Flash animations via email or Facebook - and once you or your friend has decided on the focus you want, you can save the image as a JPEG.
The Lytro camera includes an array of tiny lenses that 'suck in' all the light in front of the camera, capturing images at every focal length simultaneously
Instead of one or two lenses, it’s an array of tiny lenses that absorbs all the available light in front of the camera, to create what its makers describe as a ‘living picture’.
Lytro’s sensor captures a huge amount of information – not just colour and location, but the direction of every light ray flowing into the camera.
Software inside the camera reconstructs this into a ‘3D’ picture where you can select what to focus on. Lytro images can also be viewed in 3D, without any conversion.
The camera captures every ray of light coming towards it in a '3D' image file that allows viewers to pick the individual image they want
Lytro are coy about exactly what technology is inside their cameras - saying only that it condenses images that would previously have required a roomful of cameras into one tiny unit
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