The phrase “magical technology” gets thrown around quite a bit these days. Yet every now and then some amazing product comes along and actually justifies the lofty tag. For me, iPad was the last such product. And it could very well be that Lytro‘s soon-to-be-released light field camera is the next one.

Light field cameras are able to record three important pieces of information about every ray of light which travels in front of it: color, intensity, and direction. They can then process this information to reconstruct the entire scene in front of them.

Why is this a big deal? Well, pictures taken with light field cameras are not bound by the exact focus/exposure settings used at the time of taking it. In other words, you can focus on different subjects in the image after the picture was taken.

Still not impressed? Take a look at this video. Or, play around with pictures from this gallery and this gallery. Cool stuff, no?

Interestingly, the images generated by this process aren’t much bigger than those taken with normal cameras (at least according to Lytro). And the camera isn’t freakishly large either. So, you can probably carry one around just as easily as you could your favorite point-and-shoot or maybe a prosumer DSLR.¬†Either way, portable magic.

 

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