/// Radical Camera Lets You Pick What’s Blurry And What’s Not
The consumer point-and-shoot camera has just been reinvented—not tweaked, or remodeled, but actually re-thought from top to bottom. A Silicon Valley start-up called Lytro is shipping this week a camera that looks like no other and actually lets you focus or refocus your pictures on a computer after you take them. [ See post to watch video ] Not only that, but the company is promising that pictures you take with the camera today will be able to be manipulated after the fact in additional ways in coming months. For instance, you’ll be able to snap into focus everything at once, regardless of depth. Or change the perspective from which the picture is seen, and switch a photo back and forth between 2-D and 3-D. That’s why it calls the images “living pictures.” This $399 camera, also called Lytro, can do all this because it is a so-called light-field camera, which is based on a different technology from traditional digital cameras. In simple terms, it uses a modified sensor, plus proprietary software, to capture and process more, and different, information about the light hitting its lens than other cameras do. This includes the direction of light rays. The result is a richer picture file that software, on the camera and on a computer, can use to manipulate images in new ways. Lytro doesn’t even classify its camera by the familiar megapixel measure. Instead, the company says it has a resolution of 11 megarays—in other words, it can capture 11 million light rays. The Lytro can focus or refocus pictures after they’re taken. Just as the technology is very different, so is the camera itself. It looks sort of like a short, square, pocket-size telescope, with a nonprotruding 8X zoom lens on one end and a touch-screen viewfinder on the other. It has only two buttons and a zoom slider.