Lens flair: how Lytro’s light-field cams work

Australian T3 - - RADAR -

Lytro cam­eras don’t cap­ture mul­ti­ple im­ages, but data about where light is trav­el­ling from. They have an ex­tra mi­crolens at the fo­cal plane of the main lens, sit­u­ated slightly in front of the sen­sor, which scat­ters all in­com­ing light, record­ing the di­rec­tion from which each ray comes, its in­ten­sity and colour.

The light-field tech then uses this info and some tough maths to cal­cu­late where the light would have been if you were fo­cus­ing on a dif­fer­ent ob­ject, so you can then re­fo­cus af­ter the photo’s been taken.

While this new tech­nol­ogy cer­tainly gives you more op­tions in post-edit­ing, it doesn’t take the skill out of pho­tog­ra­phy en­tirely. Ba­sic set­tings, such as ISO and shut­ter speed, still have a bear­ing on snaps, as does am­bi­ent light and the move­ment of what you’re shoot­ing. So the Il­lum may be able to buff your pics nicely, but it can’t su­per­im­pose Ken Dun­can be­hind the con­trols just yet.

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