It sucks when crummy focusing ruins an otherwise great photo. However, that problem could soon be but a distant memory with a new camera from Lytro that allows you to shoot first and focus later. The company is planning a 'light field' camera that will allow you to switch around the focusing on an image to get it just the way you want. If there's something in the background you want to see more clearly, you can do so with just one click. Immediately the background comes into sharp focus while the foreground blurs out of focus. Check it out:
To achieve this feat, the camera uses a light field sensor to capture all the light that is moving in all directions in the view of the camera. All Things D's Ina Fried explains that the camera does this by "positioning an array of tiny lenses between the main lens and the image sensor, with the microlenses measuring both the total amount of light coming in as well as its direction." The end result is an image that can be refocused once it's made the move from camera to phone.
While the ability to refocus and change the focus of photographs after they've been taken will be hugely beneficial, that's not all the light field sensor can do. It also makes it possible to take low-light photos with no flash and capture 3D images with a singe camera.
Lytro says it will be putting out a point-and-shoot that incorporates light field technology before the year is out. CEO Ren Ng told All Things D that the device will be competitively priced, but did not elaborate any more than that.
For more on Lytro and the science behind it, head on over to the company's blog. You can also play with the focusing and refocusing technology here.