PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux


Bought my Lytro :^)

I plan to give it to my 4yr-old as her first camera. It was either that or a P&S – it wasn’t much of a contest. I want my daughter to think iPads and plenoptic cameras always existed, that I’m a dinosaur with my M.

This is the Polaroid of this era, what an amazing disruptive technology! Go Brian, go!

I had written this whole disparaging tirade about multi-frame blending hacks we keep hearing about here at NVIDIA. I’m skipping that to keep this positive.

In comparison to that other stuff, light field photography is a whole new medium where you’re making holographs instead of photographs. This medium has appeal for the lowest of amateurs at some immediate mass-market level (the focus thing) but to the serious artist there will soon be possibilities which did not previously exist. It will take a while for people to figure out what visual art can be made from holographs, and how to present them in mind-stimulating ways, and for all the tools to arrive that enable that.

It might take my daughter’s generation to grow up for that to really happen.

The gear will mature too and will stretch its application range. The beauty of this technlogy is that it’s relevant all the way to the top: think light field in a Phase One, light field in a RED. OMG. It just gets better and better, more and more mind-blowing as you think about it moving up the food chain.

This is the first week of the rest of photography’s history.

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  1. Curious to read a field report! 🙂

  2. Let’s just hope it will not go the way of so many tightly patented, controlled and licensed technologies (like Favion sensors for example, which exist only in Sigma cameras and could have been game changers if the tech was marketed slightly differently)…

    …there are two ways to make something spread:

    – make it free — think Daguerreotype-free, when Louis Daguerre did not patent the process and made it free to be used by anyone, which in turn made it the first viable photographic process and pushed photography toward the mainstream…

    – do not lock down the tech or do not make it too expensive (LCDs, 135 film, LEDs… etc.)

  3. Have you read the technical details about how this works? You wont see it in a Phase One… toy cameras only.

    • Actually, Ben, I know people working at Lytro personally. I have been in their offices and we’ve talked quite a bit. Their technology scales up just fine. I have no idea what their plans for the future are however, that part I’m watching the same as you.

      The better reason you won’t see it in a Phase One is that it’s probably not a very good way to make money, and it would distract engineering effort away from better ways to make money. I mean that’s the crude reality.



      • You can actually turn a Phase One back into a “lightfield” camera by putting a mask in front of the sensor. I’ve read a few university papers on it, so unless Lytro is doing something very different, the real technology is in the software that reads the shadows created by the mask and not the hardware itself. This is why it creates such a low megapixel file, the mask ends up causing you to lose a lot of resolution… but like I said, they could be doing something very different that I haven’t read about yet.

        • Right. Actually the prototype camera was a medium format back. You can see a picture of Ren Ng holding it inside one of the scientific papers he published – maybe even the very one they link from the company site.

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