Back in October, Nokia first presented their Windows Phone app “Nokia Refocus”, which offers a Lytro-like post-capture software refocus feature for Nokia’s conventional camera modules. The company promised to make the app available not just to owners of the brand-new Lumia 1520 phablet, but to all of their PureView enabled Lumia smartphones.
Just a few days ago, the app was finally released for the broader audience. Nokia Refocus is now available for the Lumia 920, Lumia 925, Lumia 928, Lumia 1020, and other PureView enabled smartphones that are running the Amber update.
Lytro keeps a steady flow of new features coming for existing and new users of their Light Field Camera. Most importantly, the newest Versions of Lytro Desktop and Lytro Mobile now offer 3D viewing and output for Living Pictures.
But there’s more!
With the introduction of interactive refocus to the (camera enthusiast) mainstream, Lytro opened a new, compelling way to tell stories with images. The software refocus feature is fundamentally embedded in light field technology, but it can be recreated with a bit more user effort, using an ordinary camera. We’ve seen methods using a video with moving focus as well as camera apps that use multiple exposures at different focal lengths, such as Refocus (Windows Phone) tap2focus (iOS) or FocusTwist (iOS). Advances in the (conventional) camera world, such as the super-fast MEMS technology, are adding to the “refocus hype” – both by making the creation process faster and easier, and by promoting refocus as one of the new products.
Nokia, one of the major investors around Pelican Imaging and their Array Camera, has just announced a new smartphone app for their Lumia series that uses the “multiple exposure” refocus workaround: Continue reading
Tech-Giant Toshiba first appeared in the “refocus market” several months ago, when news got out about a tiny light field camera module for smartphones and tablets in development. According to the original report, the prototype was scheduled for mass production “by the end of fiscal 2013″.
Last week, Toshiba officially announced a smartphone camera module with refocus capability, but it’s quite different from the products that were described earlier this year: Instead of a single 1 cm2 camera module with 8-13 megapixel sensor, 500,000 microlenses and effective resolutions of 2 megapixels (6 MP in the second prototype), the new prototype dubbed TCM9518MD consists of two 5 megapixel cameras, a Large Scale Integrated (LSI) chip and no microlenses at all.
In an official press release, Toshiba announced that the dual-camera module will offer software refocus and other features, but not 3D functionality. The module is priced at 5000 Yen (approx. 52 USD, 38 EUR). Working samples will be available in January 2014, and mass production is set for April 2014.
Not too long ago, the possibility to create LightField pictures with a mass-produced consumer camera sounded like dreams of the future. This was only the first step, though, and we’re looking forward to other popular imaging techniques (e.g. HDR and panorama imaging) to be augmented by LightField technology.
In a publication from 2012, computer scientists Clemens Birklbauer and Oliver Bimber from Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria presented a first approach towards creating Panorama LightField Images.