Thursday, 26 October 2017

Light L16 Camera Uses 16 Lenses to Rival DSLR Quality and Convenience

The L16 camera developed by venture-backed California-based Light recently commenced shipping to pre-order customers. This marks the next phase of the company's plans for a novel optics architecture intended to match or exceed the performance of DSLR cameras, but do so from a more consumer-friendly unit.

The camera's design employs 16 different lenses and optical modules within the one chassis, capturing a scene at several different focal lengths and then applying algorithms specifically developed for the purpose to combine the multiple exposures into a single high-resolution image.

Although only slightly larger than a current smartphone, the L16 is designed to deliver significant improvements in image quality and photographic performance over that currently possible from consumer cameraphones, as well as capturing certain image information that a conventional camera would not gather at all.

"The problem that besets DSLR photography is the bulk of the equipment involved and the need to carry multiple lenses," commented Rajiv Laroia of Light. "Smartphones are much easier to carry, but cannot deliver the same image quality, which is frustrating for photographers using them."
Laroia, whose previous industrial background was in the comms sector for AT&T Bell Labs and Qualcomm before he turned to the optics of photography, designed a solution that would leverage both the recent advances in optical component technology that smartphones have spurred, and some novel systems technology developed for this particular purpose.

Adjustable depth of field

The L16 replaces the bulk and weight of a traditional single-lens camera with several small lenses and sensors, that lie at 45-degree angles across a flat plane. The internal architecture exploits some of the principles behind folded optics to keep the chassis height on a par with that of the smartphones which customers are used to carrying, despite the presence of 16 individual optics units delivering three different focal lengths of 28, 70, and 150 mm.

In use, the L16 intelligently chooses the best combination of the three different focal lengths for each scene, depending on the level of zoom, and adjusts its mirrors to support various fields of view. At least ten of the individual cameras fire simultaneously in each shot, capturing slightly different views of the same scene.

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