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quarta-feira, 23 de novembro de 2011

Lytro camera, many focus in one photo

One day, when there is nothing for you to do, you can get some of this free time to see the impact that technologies which make something faster, easier and more efficient normally have. Well, you know, the world is divided between two types of people, those that deep inside are a bunch of lazy folks and those who are a bunch of workaholics interested in getting more time to do more, even if it is only 30 seconds.

The Lytro camera seems to be one of those “technological inovations with potential to change the world forever”. At least the idea appears to be quite interesting.

When you take a picture, there are many objects in the direction you pointed the camera and each one of them is at a different distance of the camera. When the photo is taken, the focus adjustment adjust the focus (?!) to make more sharpen the objects in a certain range of distance, the objects out of this range look blurry.

Basically we can think in 3 modes of focus, one mode is used when you wanna take pictures of landscapes, which means you want faraway objects to look sharpen, one mode is used when you wanna very close objects to look sharpen (the mode called macro) and the last mode is the in between mode, when you want objects that are not so faraway and also not so close to look sharpen. This last mode is the most used, is the one people use to take pictures os birthdays, social events and that pictures with duck faces point the camera from the top to the floor that populates in a very peculiar way the social network websites. If it is still confuse, look the image bellow.

It is the same picture, but in one the focus is set to the less distant object and in
the other is set to the most distant

Imagine now that you are one of those super cool photographers, you cover events that change the world as we know, you even have that khaki vest with a billion pockets. When you register what is happening you got to be fast, since the click you give needs to capture the precise moment and very often it lasts less than a second. It is not enough to be fast when clicking, you must be fast to adjust the appropriate set up for the photo and specially the focus, so you can register something the best way possible.

You could simple use the 3 modes of focus, the faraway, the very close, the in between, however, if what you need to register has things happening not only faraway, but also close to you, what would you do? Let’s give an example, let’s say you are covering the speech of a crazy dictator in some distant country, the population revolts, the police needs to control them and you realize that you gonna have to run for your life very soon since you adorable khaki vest may have all that pockets, but it is not bullet proof.

With this Lytro camera, when you take a picture it does not register just the image with one focus configuration, it register the image with multiple focus configurations, as if 100 photos with different focus each where taken in a single click. Later, using the computer, you open the file and chose the focus you want, if you want make the face of the crazy dictator seeing that sharper, or some police man closer to you, or even the floor giving everything some air of those paintings that worth a lot money if the painter who did it is already dead.

By the way, just a curiosity, who follows my things in the website knows that once in a while I paint (it is in my Flickr if you wanna see) and one time I called to a gallery to ask about the possibilities to put something mine there to sell. The answer they gave me, before even see any of my paintings was: “Sorry, we work only with painters that are already dead” : )

Another interesting use to this camera would be to photographers who take pictures of wild life, with khaki vests (in fact, I don’t know what is the thing between the khaki vests and photographers), like National Geographic. The same way, you could eventually with a scene when the timing of the click is everything, and later you can adjust the focus to make your capture perfect. It could also be used in sportive events, imagine a panel with the faces of all the players in a certain moment of the game, all done with a single camera.

Despite me seeing more use for this camera to this cases above, the idea of the company is to make this a product to everyone, their idea even includes a Facebook app where you can post your photo and your friend can play with the focus of the photo. At their website there are some interactive examples, the link is at the end of the post.

Personally I believe that the “average citizen” won’t have the patience or enough curiosity to play all that much with this features, this will probably end up being used much more by the professionals or by photography lovers. Whatever is the case, the Lytro camera brings a whole new world of possibilities and change the way we are used to take pictures until today.

If you are interested you should know that right know they will only ship to USA, for now the camera only works with Mac computers and there is the possibility to order yours, but they will ship only next year. They have two models, one with 16GB of storage for 500 dollars and one with 8GB for 400. I liked the design, I think it has some personality.

And what now? Will it work and became a success? Will all the cameras in the future have a similar function? Will the mystery involving photographers and khaki vests be finally solved? Will Santa Claus send me one of those? To all this questions there is only one answer: only time will tell.

--- Links
The official website of Lytro
Many interactive experiments
The science behind the technology