Cameras Reimagined: Computational Photography

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by TH3D4RKKN1GH7, Oct 25, 2015.

  1. TH3D4RKKN1GH7 macrumors 6502a

    TH3D4RKKN1GH7

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    #1
    [​IMG]
    Pictures you can focus after you shoot? Point and shoots with razor-thin depth of field like that of $5,000 camera systems? Cameras that can SEE AROUND CORNERS?! The future of photography is near, but is anyone ready? I certainly am.

    Until this point, cameras were designed to mimic human vision. They were limited by design, the goal was to recreate the world the way we already know it to be. The explosive rise of smartphones had a very obvious impact on photography from an artistic and social standpoint, but it had an equally impactful impact on the design and manufacturing of photography parts. The miniaturization of sensors, lenses, and mirrors has lead to the rise of the true digital photo revolution: The computational camera system.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    MR Photogs! Are you guys as excited about this as I am?!
    https://medium.com/@RomanMF/dawn-of-a-new-age-the-computational-camera-84666a0f2c06#.5qadtehvr
     
  2. Alexander B. macrumors member

    Alexander B.

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    #2
    Lytro camera is available for several years and it is flopped. Looks fancy but nobody is that much interested in this. A camera with multiple fixed focal length lenses and sensors looks promising but again price is too high...
     
  3. r.harris1 macrumors 6502a

    r.harris1

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    #3
    These tools are a logical progression in image making. I'm very interested to see what people, perhaps including self, do with them. The array of tools we have to do things with optics to capture photons, manipulate pixels and present those results is pretty amazing.
     
  4. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #4
    I'm all for the progression of technology, especially when it makes things lighter, cheaper, and better. Re-imagined ways of creating an image is always interesting as well and I'm not an instant naysayer when it comes to the next revolutionary device.

    But...there is probably a reason why the "basics" of photography (or what makes a good image) hasn't changed much over the history of the art form. It could be that the image that approximates human vision is pleasing because it's what we've been conditioned to expect. It could also be that our brains are hardwired to interpret things a certain way and when an image goes to far beyond that it becomes less pleasing. They say that in video images shot at 30 frames per second with a 180 degree shutter (1/60th) is what we perceive as the most natural (or 24 fps for cinema). That could be because we all grew up watching TV at that standard or it could be the natural fit for our brains.

    I guess what I'm wondering is if regardless of the tech involved what makes a good image is perhaps timeless and that might actually limit the usefulness or widespread adoption of new ways of creating photographs. That...and even though I have grown up during the advent of the digital age I still abhor sitting for hours messing with photos in post. There are almost too many options now. If I could choose any focal point or adjust the depth of field any way I liked it I'd probably never finish an image.

    There's something about getting an image right in the camera when you push the shutter release. Tech that helps me do that better is probably what I'm interested in.
     
  5. someoldguy macrumors 65816

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    #5
    Can't say , right now , that I'm excited . At present ; it's just a work in progress , let's see where it goes .
     
  6. TH3D4RKKN1GH7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    TH3D4RKKN1GH7

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    #6
    The first Lytro was barely a product. The second one was much better, but it was slow, the software had quirks, and overall resolution wasn't very high. Calling computational cameras dead now would be like calling digital photography dead after the Dycam Model 1

    As far as the Light 16 being too expensive, I guess it is if it doesn't do what it claims it can. If it's everything they say it is, it's a steal at $1,299 and a solid purchase at $1,799. A camera the size of a point and shoot that can deliver 52MP images and cover medium to telephoto distances and mimic the DoF of a F/1.2 lens. You'd have to spend $5,000+ to do that now.

    The only reason photography hasn't changed is because it wasn't possible to do this before. It is literally the only reason. This stuff is only happening because it's technological and financially feasible to do so. The FPS analogy is kind of strange to me because these images don't look dramatically different than the images before them. They're just more dynamic. They move when you touch them, but that's only if you want them to. You can make the same image you've been making with a traditional camera, you just have more flexibility about the direction you take your images after you press the shutter.

    We're seeing a push for more active photos every year. Look at the popularity of gifs! This is the era of the screen and it's time our images caught up.
     
  7. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #7
    I wasn't referring to the process of photography so much as to the attributes of a pleasing image (and how we consume that image). How we capture and consume the image is certainly changing and in many, many ways changing for the better. My position was perhaps the attributes of what makes an image pleasing to view are somewhat timeless and that might bound our acceptance of new technology (or perhaps slow it down until tastes change). Perhaps they are changing especially in the realm of social media. People are certainly more interested in more interactive images today.

    The video example was simply to suggest that we are either conditioned to expect an image to look a specific way or perhaps we are hardwired to comprehend them a specific way and that's why we have settled on certain image attributes. Like the fact that film shot at 30fps with a 180 degree shutter registers as "natural" motion to us.

    I'm a big believer in that the market drives a lot of this. Sometimes the inventor has to convince everyone that they do need this new tech (iPod...iPhone?) and then when everyone learns how compelling it is it really takes off. Sometimes the market demands that new technology. I think we hit critical mass a while back on point and shoot cameras. Clearly the smartphone has taken over. I'm not sure how close we are to critical mass on making the modern DSLR system obsolete. I think we are a ways off from that but perhaps something new will change my mind on that.

    BTW...I think gifs are fun to text my buds, especially as when they make for a good joke but I've never been compelled to create one. I tried Apples "Live Photos" for a while but could not find a compelling reason to use it and turned it off. I actually found it a bit annoying. But everyone has different tastes and that's what makes the world go round'.
     
  8. whiteonline macrumors 6502

    whiteonline

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    #8
    I don't think these projects/products are changing photography. I think they will supplement, and possibly branch off into their own genre.
    There is so much hyperbole in the tech world where one technology must dominate another - not in the name of progress, but rather sales and marketing.
     
  9. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #9
    You have no point--literally. Photographs with variable focus look exactly the same as single-focus photographs. The only thing different to the brain conditioned by Kodak box cameras is that the viewer has the option to change the focus of any image at will. As for frame rates, well again, you have no point. Anything above 16 fps appears to the human brain as continuous motion. Higher frame rates reduce or eliminate flicker and strobing. I have never heard of anyone extolling the virtues of either flicker or strobing.

    It is true that the frame rate of most cinema is 24 fps whereas the frame rate of most TV is 30 fps/60 fps in North America and 25 fps/50 fps in most of the rest of the planet. It is also true that the "looks" or cinema and TV are different. However, the difference does not mean that one is more or less pleasant than other. Billions watch both with great satisfaction. It is only an issue because video is replacing film for motion recording. Many electronic cinema producers want to simulate the "look" of film. For that, they want 24 fps. Let us not forget, however, that not all film was or is 24 fps.
     
  10. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #10
    Well, I have a point simply because it was my point ;). It might not have been a very intelligent one and you certainly don't have to agree with it but at least let me have it. It's not the fps so much as it is the shutter angle or the relation between the shutter speed and the fps that give video a TV or a cinema feel...or help to eliminate strobing or flicker. Regardless, it was probably a poor analogy/example. In attempting to contribute to the OPs discussion I was just offering that some of the latest forays of "re-imagined" image technology may not have taken hold because perhaps they didn't hit the sweet spot of what we were looking for as creators or consumers of images (like the Lytro). Maybe it was because of cost or the tech isn't quite there yet. Maybe it's because the market hasn't realized the potential yet.

    "Photographs with variable focus look exactly the same as single-focus photographs." All other variables considered I suppose they would. So the advantage, of course, of the variable focus image is you could go back and adjust focus and produce a different image. Or, given software capabilities, allow the viewer to manipulate the focus of the image. I'm all for technological advances...maybe I'm just in a philosophical mood today. Do we all really want a future where you hold a box up in front of a scene and it takes the perfect image ever single time and you can adjust it infinitely in post? If we get there then that's fine...that's where we will be. I suppose the answer to the question depends on why you picked up a camera in the first place...and there are no wrong answers.
     
  11. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

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    #11
    I would be over the moon if my light box got me 1 in 100 perfect! Ha ha...

    I like the idea here but at the core to get the raw base image to then blur out, you need to be able to take a razor sharp image at something like.F8-F11 to then have the base data to computationally add tge DoF and focal point...

    It is mildly interesting yes but exciting? Nah, not yet... Cant make a moving image for the wall... And the desire to hang it on a wall is my measure of success...
     
  12. c.d.embrey macrumors member

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    #12
    Apple has already purchased a computational photography company. So my guess is that Apple will release an iPhone with this technology. Imagine an iPhone camera that can be set to what ever DOF field you want, from paper-thin to everything being in focus. You would set the DOF you wanted before pressing the button. The iPhone would have various focal lengths as well, pick what you want before taking the snap. Computational photography is all about doing it in camera, NOT in post.

    BTW this is an old idea. Now technology has advanced to the point of maybe making it work.

    24 FPS doesn't look natural. In my world wheels and airplane propellers don't keep changing direction of rotation. Reality is very smooth, and everything is in focus. To me 60 FPS looks closer to reality than 24. The reason 24 FPS was chosen for cinema, is that it is the slowest frame rate that will work with sound.
     
  13. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #13
    Cameras Reimagined: Confrontational Photography

    http://photorumors.com/2015/10/27/gun-grip-for-the-olympus-open-platform-camera-opc/

    Sorry...I thought the joke would work here.

    Yes...I'm all for iPhone cameras gaining SLR like capabilities and I'm all for the improvement and miniaturization of digital imaging components. In several other related posts I've said it's shocking that modern DSLR systems don't have more on board computing capability and that big camera makers are missing the boat in this arena. I guess I'm not yet feeling the OP's (who hasn't returned to the post yet) excitement of the "true digital photo revolution". Advances have meant that different camera forms are taking better and better images (iphones, DSLRs, etc...). It feels more like an evolution of imaging technology.
     
  14. TH3D4RKKN1GH7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    TH3D4RKKN1GH7

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    #14
    It's entirely too early to say whether they are changing photography or not. There's really been one consumer facing product. The Light 16 will be the second. Changing photography doesn't mean eliminating it as it was. I don't even know why you would read it that way.

    We're just now getting massive screens. We're probably a decade+ away from affordable 4K+ projectors or screens that can cover entire walls. Large screen tech has a lot of improving to do. Flexible, almost paper-thin displays have only been shown off in extremely small sizes. I'm definitely with you. We need to get to a point where we can hang digital content on our walls.
     
  15. whiteonline macrumors 6502

    whiteonline

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    #15
    You actually stated the "future" of photography is near.
    In my opinion, it's not the future of photography. These new devices change how a photo is taken, but do nothing to improve the finished product.
    Lytro is neat - until you realize it only works with software. That won't work well for hanging on a wall.
    The 16 is also a neat concept - but I compare camera sensors to speakers. You can get low frequencies from four 6" Bose subs, but you won't feel it like a 24" driver. Regardless of the computational power behind it, sixteen tiny sensors behind a tiny lens does not make a full frame sensor behind quality optics.

    Our opinions differ - and I'll respectfully bow out now.
     
  16. TH3D4RKKN1GH7, Oct 28, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2015

    TH3D4RKKN1GH7 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    TH3D4RKKN1GH7

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    #16
    Changing how photos are made counts towards the evolution of the medium. The images that come out of these cameras CAN look just like every other photo or they can be more. It's up to you! How is having cameras that capture light rays and their direction, allowing for a wider range of control in post, or cameras that use smart pixels to eliminate overexposure or noise, not a massive evolution to photography? Cameras that can see around corners... around corners! I mean this stuff is powerful. Not all of it has artistic implications, but it's still a form of photography.

    I know nothing about speakers so I can't speak on that analogy.

    I look forward to the day I can carry one small body instead of a large one with 3-5 lenses and make, at the very least, images as interesting as the ones I'm used to.
     
  17. PfEMP1 macrumors newbie

    PfEMP1

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    #17
    Well if they have a miroscope adaptor, i'd try it out. Given it's a fraction of the price of standard microscopes, i'm always looking for cheaper ways to image my cells. As for 'normal' photography, I'm more interested in trying to get it right in camera, rather than relying on post-process. But for scientific imaging it could be intersting.
     
  18. Southern Dad macrumors 65816

    Southern Dad

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    #18
    It's happened. Lytro has left the consumer camera market. I admit, my Lytro (original) is not my normal camera but I do love to stage some shots with it. It is a shame that they are no longer going to be making consumer cameras. Those who want to experience the technology can do like I did and pick up a couple second hand for around $40.
     
  19. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

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    #19
    Are we talking about the future of imaging technology, still pictures, moving pictures, 2-D, 3-D, n-D, x-ray, ultrasound, IR, UV, NMR, PET... the future of personal photography, art photography, documentary, professional, medical, landscape, portraiture...?

    We record/manipulate images of the world around us in many ways that never find their way into widespread use by the general public. There's nearly always someone who explores the creative possibilities of what would otherwise be utilitarian imaging technologies, and sometimes utilitarian images are simply repackaged as art.

    I think this discussion is about, "What imaging technologies may be adopted/commercialized for general-purpose amateur/professional photography?" In that regard, we and camera manufacturers are only guessing as to whether something novel will catch on, and if it does, whether it will be a fad or become a permanent part of the photographer's toolkit.

    From a utilitarian perspective, is variable focus a more important "fix" than improving autofocus, extending dynamic range, increasing low light sensitivity, or image stabilization? All of these address traditional photographic problems. If variable focus can be available for every image, without compromising other critical aspects of imaging (dynamic range, sensitivity, image capture rates, etc.)... it seems like a "Why the hell not?" to me. The more data we have to work with, the more we can do with that data. As long as data storage continues to drop in cost and rise in density, our horizons can keep growing.

    But it's not just about utilitarian applications. It's not just about mimicking the way our eyes and minds experience the world. We have to begin from a familiar frame of reference, but it's never been about truly duplicating our experience of the world around us.

    From my perspective, variable-focus will be an invaluable tool in certain circumstances, but not something invoked for the majority of images - a useful fix more often than an expressive fundamental. Yet creative uses will be found, and the more creative tools we have at our disposal, the greater opportunity we have for (relatively) unique expression.
     
  20. Southern Dad macrumors 65816

    Southern Dad

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    #20
    The Lytro camera isn't about fixing the bad focus of a shot. It is about a changing focus. You can shoot a scene and then the viewer can click on an object in the foreground or the background to change the focus to that spot. This can make some very interesting shots.
     

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