INTERVIEW by ZACK DeZON |PHOTOGRAPHY by CHRISTINA BONNINGTON and COURTESY OF REN NG
Photographers have experienced a tumultuous decade or two. When digital technology supplanted film, many felt that the rug had been pulled out from underneath them, but others saw opportunity in the shift. To a photographer like me, who was raised in a digital world, Ren Ng’s Lytro camera serves as a reminder that the game can still change at any moment. Unlike traditional cameras, which only capture a portion of the available light, Lytro captures the entirety of the light field, meaning, among other things, that focus is adjustable long after the shot is taken.
Did you always have your eye on this technology as a potential consumer product?
Light fields as a concept have been understood for over a century, and two professors introduced seminal research on light field as it relates to computer graphics in the early 1990s. In the early 2000s, the capturing of a light field required a room full of computers tethered to a supercomputer in a lab environment. Lytro is completing the job and taking that technology out of the lab, creating an affordable, portable, and easy-to-use camera.
How does photography factor into your life—do you shoot? If so, is it all Lytro, or do you shoot regular digital or film?
Photography has always been a passion for me. I shoot with a variety of cameras and obviously am very excited for the launch of the Lytro camera later this year.
Is there any difference in lens technology with this sensor? I feel like there would have to be a different way to focus light.
Lytro’s light field technology can work with any camera that involves a sensor behind a lens. The magic is in the light field sensor and the software that processes the light field into pictures.
How has the response been, demographically—I’ve noticed a lot of interest among professionals, but has the news trickled down to amateurs and hobbyists yet?
The response overall has been amazing! We’ve seen a wide range of interest from camera enthusiasts to the everyday person wanting to capture the important moments in their lives.
I’ve heard that the way the Lytro captures light allows it increased low-light sensitivity—how much more sensitive is this camera than your average?
By using all of the available light in a scene, Lytro cameras capture great pictures in low light environments without use of a flash. Beyond that, we aren’t divulging specifics about the camera specs until our first product is available.
You’ve had the cameras out there in the field, in the hands of several photographers. What’s the most creative way you’ve seen one used?
We are big fans of the pictures our professional photographers are taking. One of our favorites is from Richard Koci Hernandez – a scene shot through a bus stop looking onto a building in downtown Oakland (see below).
How can Daily BR!NK readers contribute to your success?
Join the conversation on our social channels and if your readers are interested in getting information on the camera, they can sign up to reserve one with no purchase commitment required on our website.