Will anyone use this new camera technology? How?

3 lytros

The Lytro is a four-inch “camera” that allows you to focus your image during the editing process rather than before you press the shutter. To understand how the Lytro works, it helps to understand RAW, and to understand RAW, it helps to understand the old-fashioned photochemical process in which photographers shot film and later developed this film.

When we used film cameras, we would control exposure by setting the lens for a particular aperture—an aperture is a hole in the lens—and larger apertures (holes) let in more light than smaller apertures. We would also control exposure by setting the shutter speed—a shutter is like a gate that opens to let light through the lens—and slower shutter speeds let in more light than quicker ones. When we pressed the shutter button, light would pass through the aperture and the shutter to the film. The film recorded the color and intensity of the light. If a person could somehow look at the film immediately after taking the picture, (s)he would not see anything different than if (s)he looked at some film outside a camera. When we took a picture, however, a “latent image” had been created, and we could later use chemicals to develop this latent image and create a negative.

Flashforward to digital photography. Again light travels through the aperture and shutter, but this time it falls upon a digital recording device rather than film. As before, a latent image is created. Normally, our camera’s software then instantly “develops” or processes this latent image and we can see the results on the camera’s LCD screen. When the camera’s software processes the latent image, it automatically makes lots of decisions. The software permanently decides on brightness, contrast, color balance, color saturation, white balance, and even sharpness.

If we shoot in RAW mode, however, the camera’s software makes temporary decisions about brightness, contrast, color balance, color saturation, white balance, sharpness, and so on. Later, in the editing stage, WE have the power, within a certain range of options, to make a decision about the way the image will look. Moreover, we can “re-process” the RAW image and make different decisions about the way the image will look.

Finally we get to the Lytro. The Lytro not only captures the color and intensity of light, it also captures the direction of that light. Moreover, it captures this information from every possible angle. A latent image is created, and during the editing process we can make various decisions, including where we want the focus. In other words, the Lytro has lots of sensors, and these sensors collect lots of information, so we can have lots of control over the appearance of the image.

The 8-gigabyte model costs $399 and can capture about 350 images; the 16-gigabyte model can capture 750 images and costs $499.

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About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

8 Responses to Will anyone use this new camera technology? How?

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