I haven’t been paying as much attention as it deserves, but Lytro has provided two updates to its software that completely fulfill its promise. Jeesh. I wrote earlier ( http://jjmcclintock.com/wordpress/?p=104 )that Lytro had to offer two things the lightfield tech is capable of but wasn’t yet delivering: deep focus, and the ability to generate stereo pairs.
First, in October, they came up with a firmware/software update that provided manual controls with the ability to crank up sensitivity for low light, shoot long (up to 8 seconds) exposures, and a neutral density filter for longer exposures in daylight. See http://blog.lytro.com/news/new-manual-controls-expand-creative-capabilities/ That is a major move toward professional use, and I didn’t even have the sense to ask for it.
Then another update offerred “Living Perspective”. (Dec 4, 2012: http://blog.lytro.com/news/its-here-see-your-pictures-with-perspective-shift-and-living-filters/) After a bit of processing, you can access the depth information in the image (including images shot before the update). In the process, the image snaps into focus in depth. In one update, deep focus, and stereo info are revealed.
I made a picture of our hens shortly after receiving my Lytro (and before they entered the Gulag).
I thought it was cool you could refocus, but let’s face it, the problem of focus in photography is recovering deep focus from bad focus. Being able to fool around with focus after the fact is nice, but really not essential. I still have an image that is mostly out of focus, although it works well here. The Living Perspective update changes that…it brings the entire image into focus in order to separate the depth planes. And by shifting the image left and right, reveals the depth information captured in the light field. So far this works on their website, but the WordPress pluging doesn’t work yet, but it works great on the desktop. I assume that will change soon. There’s not yet a “Lytro” way to export the pairs, but by using screen capture software like Grab, it’s easy to collect the pair. I happen to like crossed eye stereo viewing (the “Holmes card”), and here’s the result:
We have a nice stereo pair, in focus from beak to fence line, shot with a single lens, using light field technology.
Another update Lytro has offered are their “Living Filters” which are effects that are applied to the various depth planes of the image and have somewhat different effects as you shift the perspective. I particularly like the “8-track” effect which looks to me like faded Kodacolor.
The apple blossoms worked nicely with the 8-track filter, and remind me of lithographed stereo cards from the early 1900’s. Because Photoshop is part of the workflow, one could easily add half-tone…
The obvious filter to add is “Anaglyph”. Dig out those glasses!
I hate anaglyphs. They don’t work well for me, and they’re ugly without glasses. And, uh, you need glasses! But they are are the most common 3D images out there, and it would be dirt simple for Lytro to help you make them. They also work well in the image size that Lytro exports to, 1080×1080, They could sell Lytro branded glasses! The above portrait of Annie the beagle was made in color with Lytro, then split left-right with the Lytro software and Grab to make color left-right pair. I made those b&w in Photoshop. These were placed in Anaglyph Workshop (http://www.tabberer.com/sandyknoll/more/3dmaker/anaglyph-software.html) to produce the anaglyph.
If Lytro can scale up a camera to professional levels, it has great possibilities. Right now it’s using a maybe 11 megapixel chip to produce a 1.2 megapixel image. I think that technically they will be stuck with that kind of ratio. To make larger images is going to require a much larger chip and a big clunky box with big optics. It’s probably really difficult to have interchangeable optics. A bigger image would be even more demanding on computer processing power to make the images perform their magic. It’s really impressive that the major improvements in the product have been achieved with (free) firmware and software updates. This is going to be fun to watch!