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Is the new lytro camera a gimmick?

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Thread started 19 Jan 2012 (Thursday) 04:20   
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brose
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What I *think* Lytro means is that the device takes 11 million samples at once of the light which passes into it through the front lens, and these samples are said to include information about the direction the sampled light was coming from, and its angle of incidence. This kind of information is not used however as optical information in the same way that a conventional image sensor does. This kind of information is not used in the production of the image. It is information used to *edit* the image using software after and independently of the optical information producing the image. There are already three SW applications that I know of which can apply image-independent edits to images to simulate DOF (eg using a depth map). The information that the Lytro PP SW uses is for a similar result, but apparently at the cost of very much reduced image quality (max 1.2MP jpg, possibly further uneditable, with unknown measures of IQ that we give so much attention to from our gear).

Neil

Post #16, Feb 13, 2012 02:29:34 as a reply to post 13877113




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Nathan
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I think an appeal to the consumer market is gimmicky, i.e. a lot of reaction to the Lytro over the past year or so is it's impact on photography.

There is no gimmick to its possible applications to in public safety and homeland security applications. If it is possible to make the process efficient and possible to make storage manageable, then there could be some real applications in surveillance technology.

People more creative than me can come up with even better applications.

Post #17, Feb 13, 2012 10:50:18 as a reply to brose's post 8 hours earlier.


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bjyoder
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The thesis the camera is based on was written by a guy smarter than me. There have been many people smarter than me saying the thesis is sound. I take this to mean - so far - is that the possibility of the Lytro camera truly doing what the company proclaims it can do will happen sometime in the future. I don't think it's happening now.

From dpreview's hands-on article from January 13th:

In standard mode, the camera's lens is set to the equivalent of the hyperfocal distance in conventional photography (the closest point of focus that renders objects at infinity as acceptably sharp). For instance, at wideangle, it captures a depth of field of approximately 4 inches to infinity, and the final image allows re-focusing at all points in between. The Advanced Light Field mode, (as it currently exists) prompts the camera to phyically refocus its lens closer than this, centering the depth of field in your shot around your specified focus point. When this image is refocused on the camera screen or on your computer, the focus can be shifted around that specified point, but not out to infinity. For example if you focus on a subject's eyes, you will, depending on the focal length, be able to shift the focus between their ears and nose.

What I see the Lytro camera as right now is a complete gimmick. 1) The lens is at a hyper-focal distance for focusing. 2) You can only refocus once the shots are uploaded to the Lytro site. Those two points, gathered from the quote above and elsewhere in the articleexternal link lead me to believe that Lytro has made a better, more realistic blur tool that will allow the look and feel of refocusing, but not an actual refocusing of the image as they have lead to believe.

Is it a fun concept? Sure. Is it the future of photography? Not yet, and maybe not for a long while.

Post #18, Feb 13, 2012 18:54:04


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S.Horton
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Strong military and intelligence potential now.

Post #19, Feb 13, 2012 19:35:07


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brose
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bjyoder wrote in post #13892345external link
The thesis the camera is based on was written by a guy smarter than me. There have been many people smarter than me saying the thesis is sound. I take this to mean - so far - is that the possibility of the Lytro camera truly doing what the company proclaims it can do will happen sometime in the future. I don't think it's happening now.

From dpreview's hands-on article from January 13th:


What I see the Lytro camera as right now is a complete gimmick. 1) The lens is at a hyper-focal distance for focusing. 2) You can only refocus once the shots are uploaded to the Lytro site. Those two points, gathered from the quote above and elsewhere in the articleexternal link lead me to believe that Lytro has made a better, more realistic blur tool that will allow the look and feel of refocusing, but not an actual refocusing of the image as they have lead to believe.

Is it a fun concept? Sure. Is it the future of photography? Not yet, and maybe not for a long while.

I wonder how you can be sure how your smartness compares with other people's. That some people hold university jobs I think is more highly correlated with the wealth of their parents than with their own IQ.:rolleyes:

The thesis is a good one probably. Ren Ng is a graduate in mathematical and computational science. This says a lot about what is in his thesis, which is not about the technology of making a light field camera, but about mathematics and computing. It demonstrates how a certain set of equations can be successfully applied to some hypothetical situations related in a schematic way to some aspects of the theory of a light field sensor. Like most theses it deals with one issue only among a complex of issues. It gets nowhere near dealing with the issues of optics-electronics-physics and materials which are the stuff of technology. The device that has been produced does not really represent a technological advance in the making of a light field camera, because it does not really attempt to solve the technological challenges involved. The device is a crude model, a bit like an elastic band powered cardboard toy plane. Sure, it takes photos, just as the toy plane flies! The real grit in the device is the software, as I said in an earlier post above, and this is hardly surprising since Ng is a mathematical and computational scientist!

I remain very sceptical about the light field panoptic camera idea ever having relevance to the photography we mean when we talk about photography here or to the technology used to do it. Toys are great and they sell. Let's be clear what we are talking about.

Neil

Post #20, Feb 14, 2012 02:21:34




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brose
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S.Horton wrote in post #13892588external link
Strong military and intelligence potential now.

Can you tell us more????? Without risking being "retired", of course!

I know some work has been going on on medical applications, eg a plenoptic camera for medical endoscopy to give depth information in video images.

Neil

Post #21, Feb 14, 2012 02:24:58




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S.Horton
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No I don't know anything.

I can just imagine if you only had time to get one shot, his system would make a great way to get it and not care about focus. Think high speed drone pass, field combat video, that kind of thing.

I am a bit surprised a big company has not snapped it up just to troll the patent.

Post #22, Feb 14, 2012 07:10:14


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bjyoder
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brose wrote in post #13894333external link
I wonder how you can be sure how your smartness compares with other people's. That some people hold university jobs I think is more highly correlated with the wealth of their parents than with their own IQ.:rolleyes:

The thesis is a good one probably. Ren Ng is a graduate in mathematical and computational science. This says a lot about what is in his thesis, which is not about the technology of making a light field camera, but about mathematics and computing. It demonstrates how a certain set of equations can be successfully applied to some hypothetical situations related in a schematic way to some aspects of the theory of a light field sensor. Like most theses it deals with one issue only among a complex of issues. It gets nowhere near dealing with the issues of optics-electronics-physics and materials which are the stuff of technology. The device that has been produced does not really represent a technological advance in the making of a light field camera, because it does not really attempt to solve the technological challenges involved. The device is a crude model, a bit like an elastic band powered cardboard toy plane. Sure, it takes photos, just as the toy plane flies! The real grit in the device is the software, as I said in an earlier post above, and this is hardly surprising since Ng is a mathematical and computational scientist!

I remain very sceptical about the light field panoptic camera idea ever having relevance to the photography we mean when we talk about photography here or to the technology used to do it. Toys are great and they sell. Let's be clear what we are talking about.

Neil

Wow. That first paragraph was an interesting way of reminding me that I'm probably not actually as dumb as I'd like to believe... ;) :-D

To restate, then, Ng is smarter than me with his mathmatical computational skills, and people with better mathmatical computational skills than me have said the thesis is sound.

That still leaves us at the same conclusion, that, at least this version of the camera/technology is likely a gimmick. There are too many other things that could be at play here for this to be the true technology. I'm a little more surprsed review sites haven't stated the same, and have jumped on the bandwagon.

Post #23, Feb 14, 2012 10:46:28


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S.Horton
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By the way, it would be very easy for a big company to duplicate what that firm is doing and wipe them out.

Funny thing, start-ups. A good idea is not nearly enough.

Post #24, Feb 14, 2012 12:39:31


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Ross J wrote in post #13731922external link
...The switch from film to sensor was a change from visual space to an acoustic space medium...

Hogwash. Digital camera sensors could be described as sensors of the broader EM spectrum, but they are not "acoustic" sensors.

Acoustic energy is mechanical. EM energy is photonic.

Post #25, Feb 14, 2012 13:05:23


Tom

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The technology is not a gimmick.

The current use of the technology (e.g. the camera itself) is certainly a gimmick.

Post #26, Feb 14, 2012 13:06:52


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Numenorean wrote in post #13896764external link
The technology is not a gimmick.

The current use of the technology (e.g. the camera itself) is certainly a gimmick.

This. The current physical camera is a joke.

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brose
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Numenorean wrote in post #13896764external link
The technology is not a gimmick.

The current use of the technology (e.g. the camera itself) is certainly a gimmick.

There *IS* no technology to speak of, there are some crude mockups of some concepts, such as the array of digital cameras to simulate the concept of a plenoptic sensor at Stanford.

Neil

Post #28, Feb 14, 2012 15:13:48




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brose wrote in post #13897525external link
There *IS* no technology to speak of, there are some crude mockups of some concepts, such as the array of digital cameras to simulate the concept of a plenoptic sensor at Stanford.

Neil

https://www.lytro.com/​cameraexternal link

You can buy them.

Not that I'm disagreeing that they are crude but anyway.

Post #29, Feb 14, 2012 15:42:26


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Guys...two words: Cell Phones.

The lyttro might be a "gimmic" in its current form factor (which is fun and cool, but not necessarily ideal), but placed in the right tool, it could be extremely powerful.

If you had this technology in a 7D, it would be wasted--well not wasted, perhaps after getting the images into the computer you realized the interesting part of a scene was something different than you had in mind--but at any rate your capability would not increase because of the tech.

However, in a cell phone, you would be able to pull the camera from your pocket and with one dedicated button take a shot in an instant. This would be an exceptional tool for catching the moment without sophisticated control and capability of a DSLR.

It's not a tool for PHOTOGRAPHERS, but it is the next generation tool for people recording memories or events.

Post #30, Feb 14, 2012 15:42:47




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