KaleidoCamera lens insert would give any DSLR Lytro-like powers (VIDEO)


posted Friday, July 19, 2013 at 12:30 PM EDT


Your digital SLR can take absolutely incredible images but have you ever wanted it to be able to do more? Like limit the polarity of light coming in, without needing a filter? Or isolate down to specific light spectrums? Or how about having Lytro-like refocusing abilities? It turns out that not only is this possible, but a research group has a functional prototype that radically changes how a camera works.

The KaleidoCam has been developed by a team at Saarland University, and will be presented at this year's SIGGRAPH show. KaleidoCam is being presented as a modular optical element that sits between the lens and sensor, and interacts with the light to change it before it gets recorded.

The basic premise is that the light entering the KaleidoCam is altered by either a diffuser or pupil matching system, and then it is multiplied with a kaleidoscope-like array, creating many versions of the scene. Each of these versions can then be filtered and altered, before being recombined, and beamed onto the sensor of the camera.

In a detailed scientific paper accompanying the news, the researchers explain how it can be used for multi-spectral imaging, high-dynamic range photography, planoptic light field work, as well as polarization. Most of that is a bit more scientific than most photographers would use, but the light field possibilities seem intriguing.

In the video below, the KaleidoCam is shown not only being able to change focus like a Lytro, but also to simulate a shallower depth of field (the equivalent of f/0.7), change the field of view, and create 3D images.

Since the KaleidoCam adds so many elements to the lens system, and it alters the light in pretty profound ways, it's no surprise that the final images seem to have lost a lot of quality. But given that this is an extremely early demonstration unit, if we do ever see this thing hit the market, hopefully image quality will improve.

(via Gizmodo, New Scientist)