This new strange looking camera is a whole new take on taking professional quality images.
You’ll probably never see professional cameras that looks like this. Its flat black appearance is like the face of some those insects from a David Attenborough documentary. It’s called the Light L16, and it may not look the part as a photographic tool, but it plans to achieve the impossible, which is professional quality in an (nearly) pocket-sized device.
With most cameras, in order to increase image superiority, you have to also increase the size of the digital sensor. The best professional cameras have the largest sensors, approximately the size of a 35mm film frame. The tricky thing is that large sensors are very costly. Furthermore, they require huge lenses too, which make for very large and heavy professional cameras.
The Light L16 works in an unusual way. Inspired by the slight and cheap smartphone sensors we all have in our pockets, the device includes 16 completely separate sensor and lens modules. They each take separate images at various different focal lengths, and are joined together to create one big image consisting of 52 megapixels. The lenses range from 35-150mm in focal length.
The team behind the bug eyed camera are claiming that in addition to resolution, the camera performs astonishingly in low light, and yields detail that is even sharper than professional DSLRs. While it’s unfeasible to draw any deductions from an incomplete set of pre-picked photos, impressions seem to be that image quality is certainly tremendous.
Image quality is only part of the package though. With so much info being picked up by multiple lenses, Light L16 gives you the choice of controlling depth of field after you capture your photo. A touchscreen on the back of the camera will let you pick what parts of your image are in focus, in a similar fashion to the witchcraft technology of the Lytro camera from a while ago now.
Photographers are particular about their workflow though. It has to be fast, and it has to be supple. If a device like the L16 restricts the way you can capture images, whether because of limitations in shutter speed, processing period, or output setup, it will be a hard sell for individuals accustomed to their traditional workflows.
It’s incredibly cool to see people reinvent a gadget that has remained unusually static for so many long years though. This fascinating piece of kit will no doubt be one of many such efforts to ever change our idea of photography.