Tuesday, October 16, 2012

the miracle take now focus later -Lytro camera


Remember ‘OGP’ and the rush at Photo labs !!  In this beautiful World, things keep changing, sometimes at such a rapid pace that you are really wonder struck – in the past few years, we have seen some technological marvels. 

In the 1970s, Camera was something not within the reach of ordinary mortals – for functions, there used to be black & white photos. A decade or two later, photographers would cover important events including marriage – and take 3 or max of 4 roll of photos – remember those Kodak / Konica rolls which were capable of 36 photos or a couple more.  If you ever owned a camera, one was unsure of how many photographs would get proper exposure for printing and how many of them would have captured the event of the persons in the centre……. Photography was baffling……  …………….. – no longer – as the advent of digital cameras vastly altered the scene.  From ‘only good prints’ and ending up with a measly 10 or 12 good photos out of a roll, terms like JPEG, MP became household names; not to speak of cameras in the mobile outselling the digital cameras themselves. 

For the not so well informed,  JPEG (JAY-peg) is a commonly used method of  compression for digital photography (image). The degree of compression can be adjusted, allowing a selectable tradeoff between storage size and image quality. JPEG typically achieves 10:1 compression with little perceptible loss in image quality. JPEG compression is used in a number of image file formats.  The term "JPEG" is an acronym for the Joint Photographic Experts Group, which created the standard.
The size is represented in ‘MP (megapixel)’. A megapixel is one million pixels, and is a term used not only for the number of pixels in an image, but to express the number of image sensor elements of digital cameras or the number of display elements of digital displays. For example, a camera that makes a 2048 × 1536 pixel image typically uses a few extra rows and you have 12 MP or 14MP cameras as a norm. 

Digital cameras typically use photosensitive electronics, either charge-coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor(CMOS) image sensors, consisting of a large number of single sensor elements, each of which records a measured intensity level. The camera interpolates the color information of neighboring sensor elements, through a process called demosaicing, to create the final image.  So with the digital cameras, people started shooting off clearer pictures with the person you wanted in the middle, as the ‘to be taken’ image can be clearly seen on the display and just as in computer ‘What you type is what you get’ – it was ‘what image you get is what you see’ – of course there are some technical elements that go in making a good photography a better one. 
But in a field, have you ever imagined taking a photo, getting back to see the image on your computer and then focusing the areas at a later stage… impossible it might sound – though has become a reality already.  It is a small camera called Lytro manufactured by the Company founded by Ren Ng – which makes focus errors, a thing of the past.   It is a wonder camera that allows you to focus after you take the picture.   Lytro, Inc. is a light field camera startup company founded in 2006 by Ren Ng, a light-field photography researcher at Stanford University. Lytro produces its own cameras rather than licensing its technology with an established manufacturer. The company's first camera went on sale October 19, 2011 and the Company started  shipping the products from Feb 2012. In February 2012, the company won the Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal’s Idea and Innovation Award in the consumer technology category.

These  Light Field Cameras (LFC) doesn't capture 'pictures' in the way the  current camera does - it's capturing information about where the light is travelling. This information can then be turned into a picture or, more to the point, a series of pictures with different focus points.  It works by breaking up the main image with an array of microlenses over an image sensor. Currently the images can only be offloaded on Apple computers and PCs running Windows 7 64-bit. 

It is a wonder when you see the images on its site – typically you see two animals and once you double click on one, it becomes clearer, that is gets more focussed – it not the animal, the grass or any other part of that photo, you can make it brighter as if you concentrated on that particular part rather than anything else. 

The manufacturers claim that users would be able to refocus the images after they are taken.  There is no need to focus the lens before taking a picture, a plenoptic camera can capture images more quickly than conventional point-and-shoot digital cameras. Further, Users will be able to convert Lytro camera's proprietary image into a regular JPEG file, at a desired focal plane. The resulting image has 1080 × 1080 pixels – roughly 1.2 megapixels.  The ability to adjust focus in post-processing allows the use of larger apertures than are feasible on conventional cameras, thus enabling photography in low-light environments without a flash. What is more you can have 3D images as well – as the plenoptic camera records depth information (which allows it to focus at variable depths), stereo images can be constructed in software from a single plenoptic image capture.

<iframe width="400" height="415" src="https://pictures.lytro.com/kentrombatore/pictures/100632/embed" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Dr Ren Ng, 32, born in Malaysia, raised in Australia and now based in Silicon Valley, is behind this development of  a revolutionary new kind of “light-field camera” for consumers while studying at Stanford University in California.  It is a really marvel that the picture taken with lytro camera can be uploaded on a social networking site and viewers can fiddle with the focus of such pictures by clicking on parts of the image. It is stated that already more than 400,000 light field pictures  have been shared since the Lytro camera's release in the United States six months ago.  

The camera – does not look like one – looks like a kaleidoscope sold in local markets and weighs only 227 grams ! -  has just two buttons and a touch screen.   The good news the miracle product is available in India reportedly at a modest price of Rs.41000/-  approx. -  an 8X optical zoom along with a fixed f/2.0 lens which is great for low light photography. At the back is a 1.52 inch touchscreen to look at and scroll through images.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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