As an amateur photographer one of my greatest frustrations is when I get that perfectly-timed shot, and then find out the camera focussed on the wrong thing. Thousands of my photos have had to be discarded for poor focus, despite the fact that what I was capturing would have been stunning. A new company is about to introduce a new light field technology camera which claims to be able to focus your shot after the fact, allowing you to shoot now and choose the focal point later. It also allows 3D pictures to be taken with the same shot.
This has the potential to transform digital cameras, and to allow fewer photos to tell a more complete story of any event.
The breakthrough is a different type of sensor that captures what are known as light fields, basically all the light that is moving in all directions in the view of the camera. That offers several advantages over traditional photography, the most revolutionary of which is that photos no longer need to be focused before they are taken.
That means that capturing that perfect shot of your fast-moving pet or squirming child could soon get a whole lot easier. Instead of having to manually focus or wait for autofocus to kick in and hopefully center on the right thing, pictures can be taken immediately and in rapid succession. Once the picture is on a computer or phone, the focus can be adjusted to center on any object in the image, also allowing for cool artsy shots where one shifts between a blurry foreground and sharp background and vice versa.