Spotlight, where we tell stories about Light

L16 Update (July 2016)

Last October, we debuted the L16, the world’s first multi-aperture computational camera. Since then, we’ve been working feverishly to bring our camera to market. We have some very exciting news to share today.

L16 Product Improvements

First, we’ve made some changes to the L16 product spec that we think you’re going to like.

When we launched L16 pre-orders, we planned to provide 35-150mm optical zoom equivalent. Many of our pre-order customers emailed us asking for a wider focal length, and we listened. Today, we are pleased to announce that the shipping L16 Camera will have a 28-150mm optical zoom equivalent. This wider zoom range will make for more dramatic landscapes, more interesting street and architectural photos and a more versatile camera overall.

We were also planning to include 128GB of internal memory in the camera when we unveiled the initial product specs late last year. 128GB is a significant amount of memory, but as part of our continued effort to deliver the best possible product to our customers, we were able to obtain early access to a limited supply of 256GB internal memory parts and will be including that increased memory in our pre-order cameras at no additional cost.

We hope our customers will find this wider-angle camera with double the storage truly delightful. (A fuller view of the L16 tech spec is now available here.)

Prototype Manufacturing Video

Second, on one of our recent trips to our manufacturing facilities in Asia, we filmed the production of the most recent L16 prototypes. We hope you enjoy going behind the scenes with this video.


Series C

Last, but certainly not least, we are pleased to announce that we’ve closed a $30M series C round of funding, led by GV (formerly Google Ventures). We will put these funds to good use as we scale our global supply chain to meet overwhelming demand.

Since our launch, we have become intimately familiar with the mantra, “hardware is hard.” In addition to building a world-class mobile device from the ground up, Light is also developing a paradigm-shifting optics system which is powered by revolutionary imaging software. Having top-tier investors like GV support our mission ensures Light is in the best possible position to conquer this challenge.

We are grateful to GV and look forward to learning from their expert team and gaining insights from their impressive network of portfolio companies. Onwards and upwards!

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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/

Adding Fuel to the Fire

Light Closes $25 Million Series B Financing, Led by Formation 8 Hardware Fund

by Dave Grannan, co-founder & CEO

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” Walt Disney once said.

At Light, we are bringing incredibly high quality photography to small, mobile devices.

At the dawn of Light, some called our challenge impossible. They told us that one simply could not increase the image quality of a photograph and decrease the optical size of the camera.

But this challenge wouldn’t be fun if some didn’t deem it impossible.

Others, however, were excited by our challenge. And so we raised some money to build a prototype camera. And along the way, partners like Foxconn and Sunny Optical joined us for our adventure.

The Light camera prototypes are now up and running. We are convinced now, more than ever, that we can relieve photographers of the age-old trade-off between quality and convenience.

They say, “hardware is hard.” It is true. We are certainly not done climbing this mountain. There have been plenty of bumps along the way - stories we’re looking forward to telling soon.

But we are having an enormous amount of fun “doing the impossible” here.

We’ve learned the importance of pausing and celebrating the good days, with humility.

Thus, we are thrilled to share that Light has raised a $25M Series B round of funding. This raise represents a major vote of confidence on the part of all of our existing investors, who participated in this round. We’re also ecstatic to welcome new investors Formation 8, which led the round, and StepStone to the Light family - a growing family that has seen the promise of the Light breakthrough.

Working with Formation 8’s Hardware Fund is a great opportunity for Light. Their commitment to hardware development and valuable expertise brings a whole new set of resources to the table as we near the all-important phase of bringing product to market.

Of course, once you tell people you’ve just raised money, the first thing they usually ask is, “what will you do with it?”

Building hardware is capital intensive, of course.

The reality is that a lot of this funding will be put to use growing our team. We’ve doubled the size of our team in the last three months and will likely double it again before the end of the year. To that end, we’re actively seeking excellent people. You can find our current openings here.

Beyond the specific descriptions listed there, it’s important to note a bit about our culture. We’ve been ruthless on two aspects in our hiring so far. The first is on intelligence, but this isn’t unique to Light. The second is on humility. Lots of companies will say they have a “no jerk” policy. At Light, it is a religion. We will continue to be relentless about finding wickedly smart, humble people and bringing them into the Light family.

Startups are hard. Hardware is hard. We have a group of the nicest, most talented people on Earth climbing a really great mountain together. If you’re intrigued by the challenge, we hope you’ll consider joining us.

For now, we’re going to put our heads back down and focus on the task at hand - creating a totally reimagined photography experience and bringing a little more Light into the world later this year.

--

Read more about Light and this news:
Forbes: Light Raises $25 Million To Put DSLR-Quality Camera In Your Next Smartphone
VentureBeat: Formation 8 and Foxconn bet $25M on this startup’s high-quality smartphone camera
Bokeh by DigitalRev: Photography Startup 'Light' Raises Additional $25 Million USD, After Securing $9.7 Million Last Year
Silicon Valley Business Journal: Photography startup Light raises $25 million in Series B funding

Light partners with Foxconn

by Dave Grannan, Light cofounder & CEO

Last week, we disclosed, for the first time, the Light camera technology and the response has been overwhelming.

Today we are announcing that Light has entered into a strategic relationship with Foxconn's FIH Mobile Ltd.

We are attacking a $100B industry that is ripe for disruption and we’re thrilled to be working with an industry leader like FIH Mobile Ltd. who understands our vision and wants to be a part of bringing a new edge to capturing quality images. This new partnership will further support Light in achieving its mission to reimagine photography and make high quality imaging universal and ubiquitous.

As part of the strategic partnership, FIH Mobile Ltd. has licensed the Light technology and made an equity investment in Light.

In preparing to make this announcement we did a little Q&A with Calvin Chih, CEO of FIH Mobile Ltd. and Paul Jacobs, Executive Chairman of Qualcomm (and Light investor and board member):

Light: What excites you about this partnership?
Calvin Chih: We see tremendous potential for Light’s technology, and are excited to work with Dave and the Light team. We continue to strive to help consumers and OEM partners enhance their experiences and product offerings pertaining to high quality imaging.

Light: What do you find exciting about Light's product?
Paul Jacobs: Images are the most powerful form of communication and more than ever we are communicating with each other with imagery – look at the rise of Instagram and Snapchat. Light’s product will overcome the current limits of capturing high-quality images in small form factors and will enable people to capture great images while they are on the go without trading image quality for convenience.

Light: What's the significance of this partnership?
Paul Jacobs: The partnership with Foxconn is a great milestone for Light because Foxconn’s support shows a strong validation of Light’s technology and Foxconn’s manufacturing expertise will help bring Light’s products to a wider audience. Light will gain access to Foxconn’s world-class manufacturing capabilities and market power, while Foxconn will be getting access to Light’s technology to offer breakthrough imaging quality on the devices it manufactures.


About Light
Light is a team of creative technologists on a mission to reimagine the art and science of photography. Light was co-founded by Dave Grannan (CEO) and Rajiv Laroia (CTO) in 2013.

About FIH Mobile Ltd.
FIH is a vertically integrated manufacturing service provider for the mobile device industry worldwide. It provides a wide range of manufacturing services to its customers in connection with the production of mobile devices. Hon Hai Precision Industry Company Limited is the ultimate controlling shareholder of FIH (Hon Hai), and Hon Hai and its subsidiaries (as a group commonly known as the Foxconn Technology Group) is the leading global manufacturing service provider in the 3C (computer, communication and consumer electronics) industries.