This Bug-Eyed Camera Is A Whole New Take On Capturing Pro Quality Pics 

This Bug-Eyed Camera Is a Whole New Take On Capturing Pro Quality Pics

You've never seen a camera that looks like this. Its flat black visage is like the face of some terrible spider. It's called the Light L16, and it may not look the part of photographic tool, but it hopes to accomplish the impossible: professional quality in an (almost) pocket-sized device.

With traditional cameras, in order to ramp up image quality, you have to ramp up the size of the digital sensor. The best pro cameras have the largest sensors, roughly the size of a 35mm film frame. The problem is that large sensors are very expensive. Moreover, they require huge lenses in front of them, which make for very large and heavy cameras.

The Light L16 works an entirely different way. Inspired by the small and cheap smartphone sensors we all know, the device incorporates 16 entirely separate sensor and lens modules. They each take separate images (10 to be exact) at different focal lengths, and are combined to create one huge 52 megapixel picture. The lenses range from 35-105mm.

This Bug-Eyed Camera Is a Whole New Take On Capturing Pro Quality Pics

The guts of Light

The people behind Light are claiming that in addition to resolution, the camera performs amazingly in low light, and produces detail that is even sharper than pro DSLRs. I was able to take a look at some of their sample photos, and while it's impossible to draw any conclusions from a limited set of pre-picked photos, my first impressions were that image quality was indeed terrific. Here are some scaled-down samples, which are nice, but don't prove much about the camera's ability.

This Bug-Eyed Camera Is a Whole New Take On Capturing Pro Quality Pics
This Bug-Eyed Camera Is a Whole New Take On Capturing Pro Quality Pics
This Bug-Eyed Camera Is a Whole New Take On Capturing Pro Quality Pics

Image quality is only part of the equation. With so much information being collected by multiple lenses, Light L16 gives you the option of controlling depth of field after your snap your photo. A touchscreen interface on the back of the camera will let you choose what parts of your image are in focus. We've seen similar wizardry from the light-field technology of Lytro. I was less than sold on their products when the were introduced, and I have similar scepticism about Light.

Photographers are picky about their workflow. It has to be fast, and it has to be flexible. If a device like the L16 limits the way you can take pictures, whether because of limitations in shutter speed, processing time, or output format, it will be a hard sell for people so used to traditional workflows.

This Bug-Eyed Camera Is a Whole New Take On Capturing Pro Quality Pics

I asked about these types of issues, and the Light team assured me that I would feel right at home with the new camera. However, I still have my doubts, and since I was only able to handle a non-working prototype of Light L16, we'll just have to wait until it comes to market to really have an idea for how it all works.

But Light's main customer is supposed to be the non-professional who just wants terrific images in a small and easy-to-use device. Its familiar smartphone-esque form factor and modern touch interface should broaden its appeal.

Unfortunately, its price is another matter. The L16 is on target for availability in late Summer 2016 for a cost of $US1700 -- yes, a huge chunk of change. You can pre-order it for roughly the next month for a special price of $US1300. It will have to impress in a big way in order to inspire such feats of spending.

Oh and we should note that the hole covered design is giving me hives. It seems like a huge oversight. People with intense trypophobia are going to bug out when they look at this camera. They probably already closed this post. And that's too bad because the camera has some neat ideas.

It's incredibly cool to see people reinvent a gadget that has remained remarkably static for so many long years. Light will no doubt be one of many such attempts to forever change our concept of photography.

This Bug-Eyed Camera Is a Whole New Take On Capturing Pro Quality Pics

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Comments

    Yeah great, lovely pictures that you have no hope in sending by email or message. It's bad enough right now let alone with a 52megapixel photo.

      To me it looks like a product built for photographers or photography enthusiasts, where image quality is a higher priority than file size.

      Also just a friendly suggestion, if you often email photos and don't want to re size or compress them first, most cameras and smartphones allow you to drop down the resolution to 3mp or so.

      There is also a great utility called Image Resizer, it integrates into Windows so you can just highlight a bunch of photos, right click and select the size you want them to be. It can easily turn an 8mb photo into 500kb without having to launch and image editing program,

        Thanks for the info but my moto X camera doesn't let me downsize a picture. I must get off my arse and find an app that will do it cause I want to send some photos to my mother occasionally. I think it's about time that email increases the size of the files you can send. That would also help when I need to send attachments to my boss interstate. Sometimes I have to send three emails just to be able to send the stuff I need to, to him instead of just shoving it on one email.

          It much easier then you think:
          Autoupload photos and videos to free Google Photo storage and send\share links.

            Tried that but it put my mother over her data limit 4 times. She needs the photos on her phone and not in the cloud.

          Your moto X's primary function is phone/multimedia, with a subset function of a camera. This is a camera as its primary function. If you dont want it, dont buy it. Who knows how it will all come out in the wash when in its final form but maybe, just as you can with digital cameras, you can choose the file size/megapixel count etc. Also, maybe it has NFC/Wifi capability to transfer photos to tablets/phones for quick editing. Maybe it has social media apps/in device just as Sony can do with its entire recent generation camera range.

          Don't get me wrong, I'm sure this thing will be a piece of s*** that wont do anything very well. but still at least its innovative.

          Btw - emails for multimedia sharing is not ideal - it's 2015...use a drop box, google drive or similar.

          I think you're just being a sook for the sake of complaining.

            I use drop box for work and I use Google photos. I don't have a problem but my mother does and that's why I email pictures to her. Nothing sooky about it. Just trying to make things easy for an 82 year old woman who lives in a different state who can't even use a computer.

      Not to sound mean but it's easy as hell to resize images on any platform, I'd rather have 53MP images over 5.3 any day, cause going down is much easier than go up (read: impossible)

        Strange thing, my moto x would never downsize the pictures but my new note 5 does.

    The guy heaving his DSLR at the start of the vid is using his zoom. Where is the optical zoom on the L16? They also take pains to mention using inexpensive sensors but at $1500 US the whole kit is far from inexpensive. Should be interesting to see the real world reviews.

      I think they have a bunch of fixed optics on there. So if you pinch and zoom before taking a photo, the device will engage the longer prime lens.

    The formula for revenue is always P x Q.
    It is unfortunate that people always think if they increase the P, they will make more money, except they also forget that will also reduce the relative Q they will sell.

    This $1700 is another classical example of product pricing themselves out, and forgetting who their intended audience are (ordinary non pro people who wasn't gonna spend big bucks).

    The trick will be to not put a finger over one of the lenses.

    I was only able to handle a non-working prototype of Light L16

    Might as well have just given you an empty tissue box and some toilet rolls, and asked you to 'pretend'

    Yes emails aren't ideal for multimedia but when you have a mother interstate that only has one gb of data per month, cloud solutions are no good. Nothing sooky about that, just a realization that cloud based storage is only good if you have lots of data. Oh, and no she hasn't got wifi at home. That's one thing we're currently discussing but since she might be ending up in a nursing home soon, it might not be worth it.

    I'm still mulling over which would be the best Android app for the job. Any suggestions ?

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