Taking a great picture requires many skills: the composition needs to be good, the amount of light perfect and the focus of the lens faultless. This is a lot of multi-tasking, and can somewhat discourage people from trying to take a great picture, because there’s just too much that could go wrong. But what if you didn’t have to worry about focusing your shot anymore? What if taking a picture simply required you to choose an object and snap happily away, not having to worry about shaky hands and blurry, drunken looking images. This is the vision that has been realised by Lytro, a new photographic process that allows the photographer to focus their shot after taking it.
This new technology utilizes a concept called Light Field technology. Traditionally, a camera works by gathering light information onto an image sensor, requiring the object being snapped to be completely in focus in order to create a clear photo. The Lytro, however, has a lens and image sensor that take in light information from numerous directions, a feat made possible by a special sensor called a Microlens Array.
Lytro claims that their new photographic technology will revolutionize the photographic world as we know it, turning pictures into "immersive, interactive visual stories that were never before possible – living pictures.”
The company, headed by founder Ren Rg, a PhD graduate from Stanford University, has promised to release its first affordably priced compact camera this year. This poses the question of who will buy? Will photographers begin to step away from the traditional systems they know so well, and will the everyday Joe Bloggs consumer want to take the time to fiddle around with a photo after it’s been taken?
Despite the marketing conundrums, one must agree that the Lytro is an exciting concept, and its venture into the somewhat stagnant world of classic photographic processes is brave. Hopefully this bravery will be rewarded.