Forget the Lytro, because while the one megapixel square shooter was cool for the time, Panasonic has found a way to get a similar effect going inside its mirrorless cameras.
You may not recall the Lytro, but back in 2012 when it was released (and 2011 when it was first shown to the world), it was serious stuff.
A few years ago, the concept was daring: capture an image and refocus it after you had pressed the shutter.
Lytro did it with an experimental sensor called a “Lightfield” array that captured every light point and allowed you to pick the field you were focusing on later on.
It was easier to interpret as a sensor that captured a chunk of time, because while a photograph was a slice of time in what you were seeing, Lytro’s technology was more like a big slice with more than the one depth point.
Unfortunately, Lytro’s technology was also expensive and fairly small in megapixels, measuring just barely over one megapixel, which in a society driven by large images wasn’t really enough.
Fortunately, Panasonic has found a way to bring the idea to its mirrorless cameras, with the idea rolling out to three cameras later this month.
If you’re the owner of either a Lumix GX8, Lumix FZ300, or one of the cameras we enjoyed immensely, the Lumix G7, you’ll find an update will deliver “post focus” shortly.
To make this work, Panasonic has taken advantage of the 4K engine inside these cameras, with the camera quickly grabbing a short 4K video for the shot, with a “depth from defocus” system being engaged inside the model to lock on all the focus points inside the scene.
Upon playback, Panasonic will let you choose which one you’d like to grab, with the focus point basically focused on inside the camera, and then exported to a 4K photo (8 megapixel image) in JPEG photo when it’s done.
Essentially, Panasonic is taking advantage of the clarity of a 4K video and its multiple focus points to make the concept work for it, which isn’t the same as what Lytro was using, but is definitely an interesting work around.
What you won’t get, however, is an interactive image, which is what Lytro was able to do. Rather, the images will either be exported from the camera in JPEG or stored in a small MP4 video, much like how the short videos worked on the Lumix G7 when pre-capturing images before you fired a shot.