Lytro Coolness gets Cooler!

[Update: Lytro has lifted the embargo on what the beta-testers can share. Go below to see lots of 3D cross-view pictures and for a description of how I created them.  Enjoy!]

[See 3D cross-views of claymation Lytro-ized photos here.]

I wrote before about the Lytro Light Field camera – a new technology that allows you to focus after the fact.  I bought it for pictures of my earthworms (I study their learning and memory) because macro photos of moving subjects can be difficult.  Now Lytro has upgraded its desktop software (for Mac or Windows), adding features promised from the introduction of the camera — features that make the Lytro even cooler than it was already.

Note:  I was a beta tester, and I signed an agreement allowing me to share only the photos that Lytro has made public at this time.  Soon I will post many more that illustrate the new features.

Now Perspective Shift is available.  This feature allows the viewer to see a single photo from several angles, as if you are moving from side to side as you view it.  The differences between the extremes of view is small (about 1.25″) but this is sufficient for some very cool effects, especially in photos where objects are in the near foreground as well as in the distance.  Here’s a photo of a friend enjoying the food at the County Fair (click on the photo to refocus, or click and drag to change perspective do this; it is very cool!):

Other examples (not taken by me) are here.

What’s more, this feature brings with it the capability of having an “all-in-focus” image.  The original desktop software allowed a particular and relatively shallow part of the depth of field to be in focus.  Granted you could change the distance that was in focus, but sometimes you want the entire image to be sharp.  This is now possible.  See the pic below for an example of all-in-focus and three shots illustrating the previously-available limited depth of field. These are NOT “live,” they are exported jpegs. No click to focus or change perspective.

All in focus

Foreground in focus

Eyes in focus

Background in focus

Finally, one of the most intriguing features is the ability to create 3D images (similar to what you might see in a Viewmaster) from a single photo.  Yes — no need for two cameras side-by-side — you can now do this with any one picture taken with this camera.  Below is one examples; it’s most effective if you click on the photo to enlarge it before trying to see the 3D. For the 3D effect you must “cross-view” the image — that is, you must cross your eyes so that you see the left image with the right eye and vice versa (this gets easier with practice).  If the location of the two images was reversed you could “look through” the images to produce the same effect (i.e., view the right one with the right eye and left with left); I find this harder to do, but this re-arrangement would allow the images to be viewed with a stereoscope.

Cross-view this image.

[Embargo lifted! Once the embargo on sharing all my pictures is lifted I will share other 3D views and explain how I do it.]

Click on image to enlarge – ESC to close the large image. If you use an image please provide a link to this page.

How did I do this?  Pretty low-tech, actually:

  1. Select a photo that lends itself to good perspective shift.  The Lytro software will assess this for you.
  2. Process the photo for perspective shift.  This takes about 30 sec or so for each image.
  3. View the photo using perspective shift; that is, click and drag on it to change the perspective.  Move the cursor to one side (left or right) and use a screen-grab program (in Windows, CTRL-PrintScreen) to capture the image.
  4. Paste this into an image manipulating program (I use the GIMP), and select just the photo, saving it as a separate image.
  5. Repeat Step 3, but move the cursor to the opposite side of the picture change to the other perspective before capturing the image.
  6. Repeat Step 4 to capture the photo and save it as an image showing the other perspective.
  7. Paste the two saved images side-by-side in the same image, and view it to ensure that you have the images in the correct position (you will know if you don’t — far objects will appear as if they are nearer than close objects if you have it wrong).  When you are sure that the locations are correct, save the image.

It’s that simple, and as you can see the effects can be dramatic.

So there you have it: 3D photos done relatively easily with a camera that allows the entire image (from about 4″ in front of the camera to infinity) to be in focus.  The camera is also quiet, fast, and pretty good in low-light situations.  Jpeg resolution is not high (about 1 megapixel) so this is still a developing technology, but it is a fun and promising one.

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  1. Jeff Wilson » Continued reflections on the Lytro — April 26, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

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