In terms of years, the history of permanent photography is a relatively recent development. The first permanent photograph was an image produced in 1826 by the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce.
The first color photograph was made by Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell, with the help of English inventor and photographer Thomas Sutton, in 1861. And in 1975 Steven Sasson as an engineer at Eastman Kodak invented and built the first digital camera.
150 years since the invention of color photographs a new technology is about to revolutionize photography.
Earlier this year Ren Ng, founder and chief executive of Lytro, announced that a camera using light-field technology would be available within 12 months. The premise of light-field technology, or a plenoptic camera, is to capture the amount of light traveling in every direction through every point in space.
So what does that really mean? Because a light field camera first separates light in order to individually record their color, intensity and direction photographers will now have the ability to focus on any depth of field within a photo, observe a 3D-type effect without glasses, and boost images taken in extremely low light.
The practical application for photographers is that Lytro technology removes the headaches of focusing a shot and adjusting for depth of field.
The Lytro Light Field Camera has a constant f/2 aperture, capturing maximum light across the entire zoom range. Combined with an 8X optical zoom lens, instant power on, and the lack of an auto-focus motor Lytro will immediately capture a scene.
Lytro has three models starting at $399 for 8GB of storage and $499 for 16GB of storage. Currently there is no other manufactuer on the market with the technology. And instead of licensing its technology to Canon or Nikon, Lytro chose to design and market a camera itself.
I ordered mine this morning with an expected shipment date of March 2012. I’m not sure I can wait that long. The ability to remove much of the physical contents of a camera into a software solution is amazing.
The technology is just as exciting as seeing the first color photograph or realizing that a digital camera could have a photographer do away with film. Never worry about the lack of focus in a photograph again. It truly is amazing to see photographic hardware replaced by amazing software and new technology.
Interested to see the light-field technology of Lytro in action? Check out the photo included here. Just point and click to change the focus.
Does light field technology have the opportunity to revolutionize the field of photography like color photographs and digital cameras did? Share your thoughts below or find me on Twitter (@djenders).