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2005-11-21
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Focus Free

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Stanford graduate student Ren Ng unveiled a revolutionary new way to take photographs, a technique that allows for focus to be adjusted after a picture is taken. Called 'light field photography,' the technique introduces an array of micro-lenses in series with the main lens and the light sensor. These micro-lenses alter the light striking the photosensor which allow recording a magnitude and direction for each incidental light ray. Using this additional information allows a post-processor to reconfigure the image's focus by computing how the light would have struck the sensor at different distances and apertures. Sample photos best demonstrate the concept by refocusing on various subjects using a shallow depth of field.

At present, the concept works on high end, professional, medium format digital camera systems. In the meantime, regular photographers must settle for such features as vibration reduction and image stabilization for improving focus. Or lay off the caffeine.


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