It’s portrait time, and you’d better get the focus spot-on, because if you goof that up, your image is very likely ruined unless you can put a justifiable artsy spin on the image in post. But what if we told you that there’s a camera out there that would allow you to actually change focal points and fix your mistake?
Meet the Lytro ILLUM camera, a single lens light field camera that represents a whole new breed of digital imaging devices. To demonstrate the ILLUM’s technical capabilities, Lytro challenged five photographers to create “living” images that depicted various emotions with the ILLUM and then created this short film to showcase their work:
How Light Field Cameras Work
In order to understand how light field camera technology works, it’s important to understand how traditional cameras record images. Your standard DSLR is capable of recording a two-dimensional representation of a particular scene; it does this by harnessing the pixels along the camera’s imaging sensor’s x and y axes (length and width) to capture a photo.
The ILLUM was created with microlens array technology, which is a fancy way to say that the camera is equipped with about 100,000 microlenses in front of the camera’s 40 MP imaging sensor. When someone takes a photo, each of those microlenses captures a tiny image of the scene, and the camera composites all of those tiny images into one two-dimensional frame.
But while the ILLUM is capable of delivering high quality 2D images when used correctly, its real forte is 3D imaging. The camera records the direction, color, and brightness of light within an image and thus provides the viewer with unprecedented freedom to explore and animate the image by changing perspectives, focus, depth of field, and other previously-unchangeable technical elements after capture.
“The real power of LYTRO ILLUM lies in its ability to deliver compelling digital stories and immerse online viewers in the ‘living picture’ experience,” explains the company on its blog. “Its revolutionary potential is fully realized when artists capture images with the intent of displaying living pictures on the interactive Web.”
Ranging in genre focuses from diorama to action sports photography, the five storytellers that are featured in Lytro’s ILLUM video are portrait photographer Anna Webber, action sports photographer Brian Nevins, fashion photographer Roman Leo, fine art photographer Kyle Thompson, and diorama photographer Lori Nix. Charged with using the ILLUM camera to depict grief, hope, rage, fear, and love, the photographers each express fascination with the camera’s storytelling potential and the compositional challenges presented by its versatile focusing technology.
Here are some of their images and comments:
The Lytro ILLUM camera is expected to be released on August 20, 2014, but pre-ordering is currently available for $1,500.
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