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Light's camera technology explained

Our cofounders, Dave and Rajiv, have sat for several interviews recently to dive deeper into Light's camera technology. Highlights below, but we encourage you to read the articles in their entirety.

Ina Fried, who interviewed the team for re/code, wrote:

From a small space in Palo Alto, Calif., startup Light is looking to turn the camera industry on its head
...

Light tries to emulate digitally what a big zoom lens does through expensive glass lenses. It aggregates the data from the different cameras to create both optical zoom and high-resolution images. Light has applied for a bunch of patents to cover aspects of its approach, including creating zoom using images from the multiple fixed-focal-length lenses.

David Etchells, writing for Imaging Resource, said during the interview, "So it sounds like so far you're kind of describing the perfect camera..." He went on:

Bottom line, there's always a lot of distance between a concept and the ultimate products, with a lot of pitfalls along the way, but the concepts here all seem very sound, and eminently achievable with current technology. And the Light team has an incredible pedigree of very successful tech startups that brought revolutionary technology to market. I don't think I quite agree with Rajiv that there won't be any full-frame DSLRs in 10 years time, but it seems clear that Light's technology could revolutionize smartphone photography, and further squeeze traditional cameras in the process.

Over at Extreme Tech, David Cardinal summed up our conversation, asking whether Light is building a superphone or a supercamera:

Light is clearly targeting the high-end smartphone market with its product strategy. It has announced that manufacturing giant Foxconn will be using its camera module in some of its high-end smartphones. The team makes a compelling case that smartphone companies are running out of ways to differentiate on the high-end, so adding $60-$80 to the cost of a phone (which means about $150-$200 to the price) is entirely plausible. Qualcomm Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs is a board member and investor, so the company clearly has some supporters in the right places in the industry supply chain to help make adoption of its camera in smartphones a reality.

As a photographer, though, I’m actually looking to see if non-phone vendors start to get interested. The point-and-shoot market continues to tank, and the DSLR and mirrorless markets certainly aren’t doing all that well. But they still represent over 100 million cameras sold every year. What if someone built a camera that sold for $400 and could replace a $2,000 DSLR and $1,000 lens, but fit in your pocket? It could have real camera controls (something smartphones don’t), jack for a remote mic, a nice flash, and an Electronic Viewfinder. Light even has a slightly-larger prototype that can zoom to 150mm, enough for most photography needs. Recreating the depth-of-field effects and bokeh that come with larger sensors will be a challenge, but Light claims to have ways to address that as well. In other words, it could be an amazing camera for serious photographers, not just a feature on a high-end phone. Either way, I’m looking forward to getting a Light-enabled device to shoot with when they start shipping modules in 2016.