How Lytro is Shifting Our Perspective on Photography

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making their own stereographs from Lytro images. They’d shift the perspective all the way to the left, take a screen shot, shift it all the way to the right, take a second screen shot, and then juxtapose that pair of images in a stereoscope.

Cheng says Lytro engineers have done the same thing using software in their lab, and have visualized the results using 3-D displays. The next logical step, he says, would be to build a version of the Lytro viewer that works on 3-D televisions. “The 3-D TV manufacturers have a content scarcity, so those are all very interesting things we are exploring,” he says.

Beyond that, Lytro is thinking about cameras with larger sensors that could capture more information, which would increase both the resolution of the 4-D light field and the degree of perspective shift that’s possible. To get slightly technical, the “shiftability” of a Lytro image is a function of the width of the image sensor; this baseline is small in the first-generation Lytro device because the camera itself is small and has a fixed-aperture, f/2 lens. But that won’t be true forever. “When the sensor is bigger, we can start to do really compelling 3-D content,” Cheng says.

Photography used to be all about lenses and film. Then it was about lenses and electronic sensors. Lytro is changing the game again. As Cheng and his colleagues continue to improve their software and hardware, get ready to abandon all your old ideas about how a static image should behave.

“One of the things we like to say, internally, is that we are moving the power of photography from optics to computation,” Cheng says. “And the very interesting thing about the light field is that 3-D is a byproduct. We get it without having to put much effort into it. So when the public really demands 3-D content, we will be ready for it.”

 Here’s a Lytro video about Perspective Shift, featuring Eric Cheng.

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  • Bladerunners photography of perspective changes with the image of the man in the mirror are almost here! I never thought photography could get this good. Well done to Lytro! Your name wil be heralded as the foreruner of modern photography! – Jason Brisbane

  • Helen

    Hi Interesting topics

  • jhafer

    Finally, maybe all those blurry pictures of bigfoot will be a thing of the past!

  • Lothar

    not impressed at all

  • Lothar

    I thought it was neat, but not new or revolutionary. It wasnt till the 4D part is when I lost interest. How do they capture Time in a still picture, our society is dumbified enough.

  • Lothar

    Ohh, and its not really 3D either, this is still nothing new.

  • last I checked you could still signup to get a free Lytro by becoming a Beta Tester (anyone can apply – not just developers). They are doing this through fresh for an undisclosed number of registrations so hurry. In exchange you are agree to test out the device and provide feedback to them which they are allowed to use as a testimonials. Not sure how long this link will still allow you to click the “Try It” button to register – did work on Feb 9th 2013. – (takes less than 20 seconds).

  • Get a Free Lytro by becoming a Beta Tester – applies to anyone, not just developer. The Lytro guys recently signup with fresh to give away an undisclosed number of units to anyone who is willing to preform real life usage tests and then provide feedback they can use as testimonials. Not sure how long this link will still work but go register (took me less than 30sec)