A personal journey through scholarship and experiments finally came to a close this morning for Ren Ng as he introduced the world’s first light field camera for consumers. What started as quest for better photographs 8 years ago morphed into a dissertation on light field camera. Followed soon afterwards was Ng’s PhD degree from Stanford University and his company, LYTRO. But what is this light field camera? Unlike all imaging devices out there today, light field sensor, created first by Stanford University researchers over 15 years, capture every possible light within a shot, traveling at every direction and every point in space. With such a wealth of imaging data, photographers can actually do a quite extraordinary feat. In something that Ng called “Living Picture”, viewer can focus at any point and every point within the image. Thus, creating an instant depth of field. Such an immersive nature allows one image to have an endless range of artistic expressions and story line.
One other amazing accomplishment by Ren Ng and his team at LYTRO was the camera’s form factor. An image rendering process that took up a room size super computer to do just over a decade ago, now comes in as a monocle-like device no bigger than a kaleidoscope. Quipped with a 8X optical zoom, f/2 lens on one end and a 1.46-inch touchscreen LCD on the other, the simple device has only a button for power, another for shutter, and a zoom slider. Come in two editions, a 350 pictures 8GB version and a 750 pictures 16 GB one, with price points set at $399 (8 GB) and $499 (16 GB). Available now in three distinct colorways of Electric Blue, Graphite, and Red Hot at LYTRO’s online store. To truly understand the “Living Picture” concept, simply see the light field images after the click.