The camera of the future?

I just read an article on engadget that really got my attention. It’s about a new camera technology (well new is not the right word) that captures the image in a totally different way. An old school digital camera (the ones we use right now) captures a snapshot of light hitting a sensor, this new technology first separates rays of light in order to individually record their color, intensity and direction.

The possibilities are enormous, from focusing at home on your PC, after you took the shot in other words, to an incredibly dynamic range manipulation and much more. It’s the dynamic range that interests me most actually, as I don’t like the limited ranges of our current cameras and have been yearning for a camera capable of capturing an image similar to what our very own eyes (and brain!) can see. Not that I would mind being able to choose the focus and DOF at leisure in post processing.

Only last week I’d been thinking about how I would like a camera to capture the image and I found my ideas pretty revolutionary, but this, this just blows me away. Not to mention that I just had ideas and this technology already exists!

However, should this ever become reality, everything they taught me at school goes right out of the window and we of the old school will have to readjust. One could even argument that this would make photography to easy. But I didn’t buy that when they introduced digital post processing, nor when digital photography came along. This, after all, is only a tool, you still need “the eye” to take good photos. Somebody ones told me: “I don’t understand why you have to go to school to learn how to push a button…”. People like that will never make a good photo, no matter what tool you put in their hands. ;)

I’m drifting off from the main subject thought. This technology, called light field by the way, isn’t new, like I already said, but it hasn’t been commercially viable as of yet. Now there’s a company out there with big money behind it to make it happen, hopefully even later this year.

Finally I should point out that Adobe has a similar technology, although they only focus on the refocusing bit, while this one allows full manipulation of individual light rays and thus also intensity, colour, etc.

For those of you interested, here is the full article with a nifty example and a video:
Lytro’s light field camera captures ‘unprecedented’ images, lets you choose focus later

While you read that, I’ll just start saving up… ;)

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