Adobe and institutions including Stanford and Indiana universities have been developing plenoptic cameras. Plenoptic cameras capture images with multiple focus setting that allow the images to be refocused after it’s been captured. It is accomplished by the implementation of 40,000 micro lens that sit on top of the images sensor creating 40,000 image fragment which is can later be manipulated to achieve the desired plane of focus.
A German company, Raytrix, makes the R11 camaera, which is available in the US for $30k. Let’s hope that price drops fast. The technology still has a ways to go. Currently still image are about 3 megapixels and video is only capable of about 6 FPS. Popular Science has a nice article about the camera and technology.
Lytro is another company that is leading the way with what they call the Light Field Camera, which they plan to debut later this year. The product that Lytro is developing for consumers uses a new kind of sensor that captures “light field” data rather than a two dimensional image. That data is later interpreted into an image which the user can manipulate for focus, depth of field and even perspective shift (to a degree). Check out samples images here. There doesn’t seem to be an mention of a video product yet, but I’m willing to bet its not very far off. TechCrunch has an informative interview withe Lytro CEO Ren Ng.
Here’s a quick demo.