Spotlight, where we tell stories about Light

Introducing the Light L16 Camera

by Rajiv Laroia, Light co-founder and CTO

Light was founded to make beautiful photography more accessible than ever before. Today, we’re excited to announce we’ve made the first step toward this goal with the launch of the Light L16 Camera.

This is the first product launch for Light, and as any parent or startup founder will tell you, the arrival of your firstborn is a nerve-wracking experience.

When my daughter was born in 1999, I arrived at the hospital armed with my first 1 megapixel camera. Like all new parents, I was eager to capture those first few moments. When I held my daughter for the first time, I was nervous. The pictures I took that day, while special, were not very good. The lighting was harsh, and I was distracted. With this new bundle in our arms, fiddling with the camera settings suddenly seemed less important.

Over the last decade, my daughter has gotten bigger, and mobile cameras have gotten better. We can now capture moments big and small like never before. And we do! This year alone, we shared over 2 trillion photos online. As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

While cell phones have enabled an explosion of visual communication, there are still those moments where a cell phone camera is not enough. Your child’s school play. A once-in-a-lifetime trip. A rite of passage. Some moments you want to remember forever, with a quality and character that is simply not possible with a cell phone camera.

I started shooting with a DSLR in 2005. It took some time fiddling with the buttons and settings before I knew what I was doing. Even on the auto setting, though, my DSLR photos were leaps and bounds better than my cell phone snapshots. The light looked brighter, the colors more rich, and they glowed with a magical quality I have never been able to replicate with my cell phone camera. I was hooked.

Chances are, if you have ever purchased a DSLR, you probably don’t carry it around with you very often. Their bulk and weight is usually a non-starter, not to mention complex interfaces that require knowledge of the settings, and in-the-moment tweaking and tuning to get the results you want. Depending on the situation, it can be distracting and cumbersome. When I was running out the door to get my daughter to a swim meet, it was usually my cell phone that came with me, not the DSLR.

The Light L16 was designed specifically to eliminate the tradeoff between the quality you get with a DSLR, and the convenience you get with a cell phone. I wanted the camera to be easy, so that anyone could pick it up and instantly get amazing pictures with that “magic” quality. I wanted it to be small and light enough to go where I go. And I wanted to design the entire camera experience around the way we share our pictures in the modern era - on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

So instead of asking how we could make the same old concept of “camera” smaller and lighter, we started from scratch. We began experimenting with optics technology that has only just emerged in the last 5 years because cell phone cameras, and started pushing on it, to see what we could do.

Unlike a DSLR or mirrorless camera that use interchangeable lenses for shooting in different situations, the Light L16 has multiple small and inexpensive camera modules that are built-in. When you press the shutter button, it captures several high-resolution images simultaneously, then using sophisticated computational imaging techniques, it fuses them together to create a single image with up to 52 megapixel resolution. Because the lenses are integrated into the camera from the beginning, you never have to swap them out, or carry them around as additional equipment.

With the exception of the shutter button, we also abandoned physical buttons and knobs, opting for a completely new type of touch screen interface that feels more like the user-friendly interface of a cell phone. And finally, after a lot of research and designs with folded optics, we were able to fit all of this into a camera body small enough to fit in your pocket. In time, as we continue to innovate and learn more, Light will only get smaller.

Because the Light L16 captures from several different camera modules with different focal lengths, and at slightly different perspectives, we can radically optimize your final image to provide the best possible clarity, and virtually eliminate noise, even in the darkest areas of your shot. Shooting with multiple camera modules also enables you to adjust depth of field even after the picture has been taken. And because the final image is extremely high-resolution, the photo you took of your child on stage from the back of the auditorium is going going to be crisp and clear, even after aggressive cropping.

Most importantly, Light gives you the freedom to focus on the moment, with the confidence that your finished picture is going to be truly amazing. Your photos will have that rich magical quality that comes with high-end cameras, without the effort, expertise or big bag of gear.

Our team at Light has been working on the technology powering the L16 Camera for over two years, and like any new Dad, I am incredibly proud and excited to introduce it to the world. Today’s launch is the first step toward Light’s mission to make beautiful photography more accessible than ever before, and I hope you will stay in touch as we continue our journey.

Here’s to hoping that this newborn comes with fewer sleepless nights!


Light L16 Camera from light on Vimeo.

The Light Story from light on Vimeo.





press release

Light Introduces the First Multi-Aperture Computational Camera

Light’s L16 Camera packs DSLR quality and capability into a pocket-sized device

Palo Alto, Calif., October 7, 2015, 4:00 P.M. PT

Core News Facts:

  • Today, Light (www.light.co) launched the L16, a camera that combines advanced optics with powerful software, making beautiful photos more accessible than ever before.
  • The L16 is the first multi-aperture computational camera that packs DSLR quality and capability into a device that fits in your pocket. The L16 is smaller, lighter, less expensive, and provides better image quality than any camera in its price class.
  • Light’s innovative technology flattens and re-directs the optical components in the camera, allowing for a sleek and streamlined design.
  • The L16 works by firing multiple cameras at multiple focal lengths simultaneously, then computationally fuses the images together to create a single high-quality image up to 52 megapixels.
  • By shooting an image at multiple focal lengths, the L16 captures more data in every shot, allowing you to enjoy the moment, and make adjustments, like depth-of-field, later.
  • With the L16, anyone can shoot, edit and share high-quality photos from a single device.
  • Additionally, the L16 is a fraction of the weight and size of comparable DSLR cameras, making it radically portable and travel-friendly, while being as easy to use as a smartphone camera.
  • Compared to professional-grade cameras that often require multiple lenses and add-ons, the L16 requires no additional equipment.
  • Key features of the L16 include:
    • Integrated 35mm-150mm optical zoom
    • DSLR-quality high-resolution images
    • Exceptional low-light performance
    • Low image noise
    • Fine depth of field control
    • Five-inch, easy-to-use touch-screen interface with on-device editing and social network sharing
  • The L16 will retail for $1,699 and ship in late summer 2016. A limited quantity will be available for pre-order through November 6 at a special price of $1,299 at https://light.co/.
  • Light was founded in 2013 by Dave Grannan, CEO, and Rajiv Laroia, CTO, whose backgrounds in mobile technology and passion for photography inspired them to reimagine photography.
  • For more information on the Light L16 Camera launch, please visit the Light blog at https://spot.light.co/Light-L16-Camera-Launch

Dave Grannan, CEO & Co-Founder, Light
“Our lives are made up of many moments. Some are big and impressive, and others are quiet and meaningful. Photography is about finding these moments and capturing their magic in a single frame. Until the L16 camera, this required expert knowledge, heavy equipment and high prices. Light’s vision is to enable anyone to take amazing pictures, and to change consumers’ mindset that quality must come at high cost, a big size and with a steep learning curve.”

Rajiv Laroia, CTO & Co-Founder, Light
“At Light, we believe you shouldn’t have to focus on mastering equipment, you should be able to focus on the moment. The L16 was designed to allow anyone to easily take high-quality photos without needing a big and complicated device. Using a breakthrough in optical system design, and pushing the boundaries of computational imaging, we’ve packed the capabilities of a high-quality interchangeable lens camera into a device small enough to fit in your pocket. Our design goal was to produce the highest quality images in the smallest, lightest, most convenient form factor.

About Light
Light is pushing the boundaries of camera technology, making beautiful photography more accessible than ever before. The Light L16 camera combines advanced optics with powerful software to enable anyone to shoot, edit and share high-quality pictures. Founded in 2013, Light is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif. To reimagine photography, visit: https://light.co/