Light Looks to Reinvent Photography With the L16

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The Light L16 is a very progressive design that makes use of a number of lenses and in-camera processing to create high-res photographs.

Light L16

The Light L16 is a camera that takes some rationalization.

From a distance, it appears like a black slate with a shiny front—the first query chances are you'll ask is, the place's the lens? Take a better look and you will see that there are many lenses on the face—16 of them, to be exact. Totally different lenses hearth at totally different occasions to differ subject of view, and in some instances decision—however at its best the camera captures 52-megapixel photographs (with Uncooked seize out there), and 4K (however solely from a single lens).

The L16 is at present in the prototype part, so some issues might change earlier than its Spring 2016 launch date. I sat down with Dr. Rajiv Laroia, co-founder and CTO of Light, to talk about the product and the know-how that makes it attainable. Sadly we did not have a working unit on hand—I noticed a bodily mockup and an early prototype camera that wants to spend a while at a troubleshooting bench to get capturing once more. Spring runs via June, technically, so Light has about 8 months to get all the things to ensure that an on-time L16 launch.

The L16 makes use of lenses and sensors designed with know-how developed for the smartphone business. Molded plastic lenses permit for optics to be cheap, however nonetheless sharp sufficient to pair with 13-megapixel 1/3.2-inch CMOS image sensors—the similar sort you will discover in a phone or pill. Of the 16 lenses, 5 cowl a 35mm (full-body equal) area of view, one other 5 are 70mm, and the last six are 150mm.

Light L16 : Lenses

The lens and sensor modules are positioned almost flat right into a slim camera physique, with mirrors used to direct mild into them. They're scattered about the physique in a method that permits the camera to benefit from parallax to seize a scene from barely totally different views, which additionally permits for variable management over depth of subject—even after an image is captured when utilizing the software that the firm will provide with the camera. There are additionally plans to prolong this functionality to Photoshop utilizing a plug-in—Uncooked pictures are saved in Adobe's DNG format.

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To seize an image at the 35mm area of view, the L16 makes use of 10 lenses and sensors. Every of the 35mm lenses fires, capturing the geometry of the scene. The precise image is made utilizing the 70mm lenses. Image the body being damaged into quadrants, with one lens masking every quarter, and the fifth capturing knowledge from lifeless middle, partially overlapping every quadrant. Pictures are stitched collectively (seamlessly, thanks to the large-angle photographs capturing the geometry), leading to a 52-megapixel image.

Capturing at 70mm works similarly, solely with the 70mm lenses creating the vast subject of view and the 150mm used to sew collectively the image. In-between focal lengths are additionally out there—however at a lowered decision. Capturing at 50mm provides you a 40-megapixel image, however Laroia states that, due to the method that mild is concentrated at this focal size, noise is lowered.

There are another tips that the a number of lens system permits. For those who're capturing a scene with combined lighting ranges, totally different lenses can seize pictures with totally different publicity values—that permits for HDR pictures to be captured in a single prompt. Laroia can also be working to incorporate lenses with out shade filter arrays into the design. Not each sensor wants to seize photographs in shade to create a shade image thanks to the multi-lens design. And eliminating the CFA improves sharpness and will increase mild-gathering functionality by an element of three.

Light L16

Light states that its surveys of shoppers who've bought SLRs present that many—as a lot as half—have stopped utilizing them on a daily foundation. It plans on ultimately concentrating on these shoppers with a product like the L16—one thing that guarantees to ship superior image high quality, the versatility of varied focal lengths, and a compact design.

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Laroia sees the potential for a lot of makes use of of this tech in the future. A pill with a area of view matching 600mm, as an example, and he expects know-how companion Foxconn to incorporate the tech into smartphones. However for now, the Light L16 is not a product aimed toward the mass market. At $ 1,699, it is decidedly area of interest, aimed toward photo fanatics and early tech adopters. If you need to avoid wasting cash, and are prepared to take a big gamble on the tech, you'll be able to pre-order by means of Nov. 6 for $ 1,299, with a $ 199 deposit due at the time of order.

We'll maintain off on deciding whether or not the Light L16 fulfills its promise and potential till we get to check one in the actual world and in our lab. It is considered one of the extra intriguing designs I've seen come to market, and early pattern pictures look fairly good on a pc screen. However we cannot know for positive till the fashions are rolling off the manufacturing line.

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