Light Is Promising A DSLR Quality Camera In A Smartphone Formfactor by Combinbing 16 Lenses

Oct 8, 2015

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

Light Is Promising A DSLR Quality Camera In A Smartphone Formfactor by Combinbing 16 Lenses

Oct 8, 2015

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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light-camera-01

Every now and then a new technology comes that threatens to shake the existing paradigm of how photography is done. Mirrorless has done this to a certain extent, removing a significant element form the Camera’s body. But an even bigger step would be the move to computational photography. This is where several small optical and electrical elements use an algorithm to create a photo. Lytro, of course, was a pioneer in that field, but failing to deliver I am sure many are now skeptical about the place such technologies have in the photography market.

Today, Light announced their new camera – L16 – which is claimed to deliver DSLR quality image with a smartphone form factor. The camera boasts 16 lenses of 3 focal lengths which deliver an astounding 52 megapixel image. Depth of field (or bokeh) will be set in post production.

If you want to learn more here is Light’s introductory video:

https://vimeo.com/141273968

The camera uses several edge-of-technology tricks to deliver on their promise:

To achieve the small form factor, each camera module is equipped with a mirror that bounces the light into a sensor that is vertical to the aperture. This 90 degrees break enables the camera to be thinner, as the light course is bent.

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To achieve zooming, you pinch the LCD screen. (Think how you pinch your smartphone screen to zoom in and out). When you do so, the camera selects 10 of its 16 lenses and, takes a photo using those 10 lenses and the 10 camera modules behind them. Then the camera ‘computes’ an image (hence the name computational photography), and outputs a 52MP file.

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This technique allows the camera to achieve ‘optical zoom’ of three native focal length (and cropping for everything in between, I guess): 35mm, 70mm and 150mm.

35mm
35mm
70mm
70mm
150mm
150mm

And of course the DSLR quality statements is backed up by the camera’s ability to create a very shallow depth of field. Now, using 16 small cameras with 16 small sensors actually produces 16 very wide depth of field photos, but an algorithm can extrapolate distance information based on the information coming from different lenses and apply the relevant blur after the fact

The camera is being crowdfunded in a model that we see more and more of. Instead of using Kickstarter, the company is enabling pre-orders on their site. (Lily used a similar technique, and I think that this marks startups transitioning away from Kickstarter, but this is another story).

The camera costs $1699 (similar to a new Sony A7II) and if you pre order you knock out $400 which brings it to $1299 with delivery predicted “late summer 2016“.

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This is not a small amount of money, for a piece of gear that has zero reviews out there, and that has many unknowns that matter for pros. Things like Lightroom integration, does it play nice with DNG, will there be support for lens attachments (ND is a no brainer, I guess, but polarizer would be a real pain).

UPDATE: Louis sent us this video which shows the CEO of the company giving a brief.

I guess the real question here is will you be getting one:

[L16, $1699 | Light]

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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12 responses to “Light Is Promising A DSLR Quality Camera In A Smartphone Formfactor by Combinbing 16 Lenses”

  1. DLS Avatar
    DLS

    * poll option 5: No, I will not be getting this because it will be nothing near DSLR or mirrorless quality and I do not need an expensive toy camera.

  2. Johan du Toit Avatar
    Johan du Toit

    Love the forest picture on their web site… too bad they could not do it with their own camera. Exif:

    Camera Maker: Canon
    Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
    Lens: EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
    Image Date: 2015-09-10 10:26:22 +0000
    Focal Length: 38mm
    Aperture: ƒ/2.8
    Exposure Time: 0.0080 s (1/125)
    ISO equiv: 800
    Exposure Bias: none
    Metering Mode: Matrix
    Exposure: Manual
    Exposure Mode: Manual
    White Balance: Manual
    Flash Fired: No (enforced)
    Orientation: Normal
    Color Space: Adobe RGB (1998)
    GPS Coordinate: undefined, undefined
    Software: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 (Macintosh)

    1. udi tirosh Avatar
      udi tirosh

      which image is that?

      1. Johan du Toit Avatar
        Johan du Toit
        1. udi tirosh Avatar
          udi tirosh

          the product shot :) yea… would have been cool to eat our own ‘dog pile’ :)

    2. Erald Ylli Avatar
      Erald Ylli

      Wait, could they take the picture with their own camera, if the guy is holding it in the picture? Either be in the picture, or be the one to take it. :P

      1. Erald Ylli Avatar
        Erald Ylli

        All jokes aside, great catch on your part. This should be embarrassing for them. Even if it’s a prototype, it should be working well enough to be used to capture the sample photos you post in your website.

  3. Shachar Weis Avatar
    Shachar Weis

    It’s about time someone made a consumer computational camera. It would probably suck, being first and all, but it’s a step in the right direction. Release date summer 2016, so we’ll have to wait a bit for reviews.

  4. Mike Avatar
    Mike

    “Every now and then a new technology comes that threatens to shake the existing paradigm of how photography is done.”

    This is not one of them.