The nice people at Lytro’s PR agency (The OutCast Agency) have replied, and we offer you their unedited answers, below.
The most interesting point to note, is that it seems Lytro’s Light Field tech will play friendly with other lenses — so in theory it’s not out of the question to shoe-horn it into an existing camera-bag full of legacy kit. That’s exciting for any pro photographer with an investment in ‘classic glass’. More ambiguous is their claim that ‘we make use of the pixels you would traditionally throw away’ — they seem to be focussed here on most people’s on-screen viewing experience rather than the (admittedly) few of us who produce large, high-resolution prints, and whom rather than ‘throwing away’ pixels, resort to 50+ megapixel digital backs for fashion shoots… if indeed they’re counting on substituting depth information for resolution, then I admit to a diminished interest in their technology. ‘Better than HD’ resolution is, after all, fewer pixels than I’m using typing this on my MacBook…
But wait and see. Of course, we’ll only really be able to tell you more when we get our hands on one of their cameras…
BST: When will we get to see a product shot of the camera?
Lytro: The camera will be released later this year.
Is the technology in theory compatible with legacy lenses? From a quick look at Dr Ng’s original papers, it would seem that the Light Field microlenses are positioned after a traditional lens assembly — so is it possible that a Light Field body could work with classic lenses?
Lytro’s light field technology works with any camera that involves a sensor behind a lens. The magic is in the light field sensor and the software the processes the light field into pictures.
Why release what appears to be a consumer camera at a point where the consumer camera market is rapidly losing market share to smartphones?
We have a significant lead in making this technology available to consumers and believe that we can forever change how we all take and experience pictures. The camera market is in fact projected to grow from $38B in 2010 to $44B by 2015 and we believe Lytro technology could even expand that demand.
Any licensing deals in the works with the big players (ok we don’t really expect an answer to that)?
Our current strategy is to introduce this technology to people in a Lytro-branded camera that is fast, simple and magical to use.
Is the system *in theory* capable of working with video? We’re excited both about single-lens 3D and real-time depth-based compositing!
Video is entirely possible with light field. It will just require solving difficult software challenges. It is on our long-term roadmap but will not be available in our first product.
The demo images on the site are fairly low-rez — is there a tradeoff between resolution and the Light Field capabilities?
The amount of megapixels, or resolution, is fundamentally about how big of a 2D photograph one can print. So, when viewed on even big screen monitors, the 14 Megapixel camera ends up throwing away over 90% of the pixels. In fact, the lens on most point-and-shoots have a fraction of the resolution of their sensors! With light field technology, we make use of the pixels you would traditionally throw away. We use those pixels to retain the depth information of the scene. This has many benefits including, focusing after the picture is taken to any subject in the scene, on to displaying 3D pictures, even holographic when that is available. Light field resolution provides better than HD quality today.