Photography uses chemical or electronic means to preserve static images. The photographer must take special care when choosing the focus, depth of field, and perspective of a shot. While we have made serious advances in post-production, we can only manipulate the static image using tricks and filters.
These rules have always been true whether using a traditional or digital camera. This is not the case when using the Lytro Illum, a camera that uses light field photography.
Light field photography
Fundamentally light field photography is about capturing more data in an image. David Pierce describes it this way:
This new technology allows for new ways to manipulate images in post-production. Although very few true light field cameras exist, the technology has inspired new uses of traditional (or smartphone) cameras. The iOS app FocusTwist and Google Play’s Easy Light Field Camera FREE app can imitate light field photography, but they do not use the same technology.
Light field post-production
Traditional and digital photographs don’t allow you to manipulate the focus or perspective in post production. For example, look at these two photos I took using my iPhone. My subject, the grapes, are either in focus or out of focus; I can’t change that after the fact.
Light field photography changes these traditional limitations. Using light field editing software allows you to manipulate the focus of a photograph in post production. The Illum comes with Lytro Desktop and Lytro has even created a mobile app to allow you to customize and share your “living pictures.”
Interact with the player below to see some of the editing features light field photography and editing software allow.
Interested in hearing from Illum first hand users? Check out David Pierce’s review from The Verge (quoted above), David Pogue’s opinion from YAHOO! Tech, or Geoffrey A. Fowler’s piece in the Wall Street Journal.