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Thursday, March 02, 2006


...That sound you just heard was Dave New's comment, featured below, going over my head.

One of our readers with the handle "expiring_frog," Siddhartha Chaudhuri, tells us that Ren Ng, one of the geniuses behind the Plenoptic Camera, is defending his Ph.D. thesis this very day at Stanford University. Briefly, the Plenoptic Camera allows you to select your plane of focus and depth-of-field after the picture is made, in software, just as RAW shooters now set color balance after we're comfortably back behind our computer monitors.

I'm no Nostradamus, but it's probably likely that this fascinating development will figure in the photography of the future. The least we can do is offer congratulations and best wishes for success to Ren.

Featured Comment: Dave New says, "As near as I can tell, their microlens array essentially reduces the overall resolution of the sensor behind it by a factor of 12x, so a 16MP sensor ends up being somewhat under 2MP. The tradeoff is that each pixel of the original 16MP sensor is not only recording light intensity, but by inference of its exact X,Y offset under the corresponding microlens, can also record the direction the ray of light came from, thus allowing one to measure the so-called 4D light field. To speed up calculations, the whole capture is put in Fourier space, so that 2D slices (which is what a sensor at the focal plane actually captures) can be made by simply X,Y lookup, instead of double integral sums.

"Some other caveats—the sensor plane must be parallel to the lens, so no view camera-like movements are allowed. Also, you must shoot with the lens wide open, otherwise a spatial (i.e. integration, again) filter must be introduced to account for the smaller source field of light rays.

"This is a pretty interesting line of research, and considering that current technology is giving us almost more pixels than we know what to do with, it wouldn't be inconceivable to see something soon like a 144MP sensor coupled to a microlens array, that gives an effective 12MP image that can be re-focused at will. Using an ƒ/2 lens, the shot can be re-focused as if it was taken with an ƒ/2 x 12 = ƒ/24 lens."



Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is much more interesting

An array of cheap cameras and lenses, and you get a f/.01 lens that you can focus and tilt after the fact, and DOF that makes anything less that a meter wide flat out disappear

Hugh Crawford

5:57 PM  
Blogger Dave New said...

Heh. Reminds me of Beowulf clusters. Divide and conquer...

8:52 AM  

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