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Steve Jobs Met with Light Field Camera (Lytro) Company's CEO


In the upcoming Inside Apple book by Adam Lashinsky, it's revealed that Steve Jobs had expressed interest and subsequently met with the CEO of Lytro, the makers the first light field camera. The relevant book quote posted by 9to5Mac states:
The company’s CEO, Ren Ng, a brilliant computer scientist with a PhD from Stanford, immediately called Jobs, who picked up the phone and quickly said, “if you’re free this afternoon maybe we would could get together.” Ng, who is thirty-two, hurried to Palo Alto, showed Jobs a demo of Lytro’s technology, discussed cameras and product design with him, and, at Jobs’s request, agreed to send him an email outlining three things he’d like Lytro to do with Apple.
Lytro received a lot of press last year when the first of its light field cameras went on sale in October. The product even received Popular Science's 2011 Innovation of the Year.

Light field cameras are a different take on photography by capturing "the entire light field" and saving all that information into a single file. Photographers can then edit the file afterwards in a number of unique ways -- including refocusing the image. This video walks through this unique ability:


One of the limitations in the early light field cameras is a relatively low resolution. The first Lytro camera produces final photos of only 1.2 megapixels (1,080x1,080). The cameras also don't take any video and start at $399 for an 8GB model. The camera carries an elongated form factor that seems to be a result of the unusual optics required.

Given the hype surrounding the technology, it's perhaps no surprise that Steve Jobs found interest in meeting with the young company. That meeting, however, is getting special attention due to the fact that Walter Isaacson had said that Jobs wanted to reinvent television, textbooks and photography.

Apple just released their first digital textbooks for the iPad, and is expected to get into the television space. Apple's future goals for photography, however, remain unclear. Apple includes a digital camera its iPhones and has made progressive improvements in camera quality over the past few generations. While Apple no longer makes a standalone digital camera, they were one of the first to product a consumer targeted digital camera back in 1994.

Given the popularity of smartphones and the subsequent decline of point and shoot camera popularity, we'd expect any future Apple movement into photography would be centered around the iPhone.

Top Rated Comments

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36 months ago

Okay, let's have a show of hands: How many people here have taken photos where they wish they could re-focus at will to emphasize one element of the photo?

Wait, before you raise your hands, let's limit it to those people who take such photos often enough to pay extra for the capability. And lug around a bigger device.

And let's limit it to those who aren't professional photographers, since this $399 1.2MP model would be useless for such.

Okay, so now let's see all those raised hands.

Anyone?

Buehler?


How many people—NON-professionals, please--have ever taken a photo with bad focus?

Wait, before you raise your hands, how many of you would be willing to carry a still-very-small device, that’s also fun and cool?

A see a certain niche raising their hands!

Thank goodness for niche products: imagine a world where no products existed except those that appealed to all people? You’d never find what you wanted...

And those early adopters can lead the way to higher-res versions to come :)
Rating: 13 Votes
36 months ago

Okay, let's have a show of hands: How many people here have taken photos where they wish they could re-focus at will to emphasize one element of the photo?

Wait, before you raise your hands, let's limit it to those people who take such photos often enough to pay extra for the capability. And lug around a bigger device.

And let's limit it to those who aren't professional photographers, since this $399 1.2MP model would be useless for such.

Okay, so now let's see all those raised hands.

Anyone?

Buehler?


This is what this forum has really become.

Constant bitching about any new technology or implementation or experiment. It's like you people cannot appreciate any effort.
Rating: 11 Votes
36 months ago

Okay, let's have a show of hands: How many people here have taken photos where they wish they could re-focus at will to emphasize one element of the photo?

Wait, before you raise your hands, let's limit it to those people who take such photos often enough to pay extra for the capability. And lug around a bigger device.

And let's limit it to those who aren't professional photographers, since this $399 1.2MP model would be useless for such.

Okay, so now let's see all those raised hands.

Anyone?

Buehler?


lol Just as it is with much of basically every newer piece of technology, it's going to cost a lot more in the beginning. Just like Blu-Ray players, SSDs, etc. I think what's a bigger story is that this is at least starting to develop, in a few years maybe things will be more reasonably priced and well-featured.
Rating: 9 Votes
36 months ago

iPhone's camera's next feature: Optical zoom, not just software zoom...

If that happens, iPhone's camera is the best point and shoot. (Alongside DOZENS of camera apps)


Dreamer by name...
Rating: 8 Votes
36 months ago
I'm looking forward to what this tech could eventually do when it's used with 3D. Part of the problem with 3D, as I see it, is that the camera forces the focal point of all the shots. I'd love if I could have depth of field based on where my eyes were focusing. I know this is a ways off and that we'd need some serious processing power, but I dare someone to say computers will never be that powerful. This idea isn't perfect, but there's something here.
Rating: 7 Votes
36 months ago
I need this.

Not sure why but I do
Rating: 6 Votes
36 months ago
Potentially a very interesting new technology. However, one thing is kind of bugging me with respect to the video demo of the refocusing: the "depth of field" looks incredibly fake and processed from the very short example in the video, and it certainly doesn't seem like a natural, photographic depth of field response - more like the image has somehow been separated into "depth layers" and then had selective blurring applied to one or more layers. This feels pretty artificial as far as first impressions go, but I'm more than happy to reserve judgement until a more revealing demo of the technology is made available.
Rating: 5 Votes
36 months ago

This is what this forum has really become.

Constant bitching about any new technology or implementation or experiment. It's like you people cannot appreciate any effort.


Either that, or they believe being dismissive and jaded about everything makes them look smarter than they actually are. What is this? Something new? Yawn. Pass. Whatever.

Or they have no imagination whatsoever. Which is even more tragic.
Rating: 5 Votes
36 months ago

This article seems to imply that Jobs' desire to reinvent photography has not yet been achieved.

I think it's safe to say that Jobs and Apple already have reinvented photography — with the iPhone 4 (and 4s).


Yep. Apple pushed the industry forward with iPhone 4, and even further with the 4s. If not for Apple's big push, and emphasis on photo quality, the industry would still be stuck in the "more megapixels is better" moronity. (Actually, most of them still are, since they can't make their own software.)
Rating: 3 Votes
36 months ago
Cool technology (and camera form factor). I can see it becoming very huge in the future if it's implemented properly.

However, maybe I'm a bit old fashioned but it does also kind of make me sad. For me, part of the appeal of photography is to be able to catch the right moment in time and using your tools (i.e. depth of field, aperture, etc) to emphasize and deemphasize certain aspects of your shot. By making it easier to adjust those things after the photo has been taken kind of takes away from the art of photography IMO.

But then again, most people take photos to upload on Facebook and not necessarily for art :o
Rating: 3 Votes

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