Welcome to the World, L16

After nearly four years of designing, prototyping, building, tweaking, improving, testing, and retesting, we are thrilled to announce that we started shipping the Light L16 camera to our pre-order customers today!

When we began this journey, we had no idea how much global excitement there would be for computational photography. To be honest, we thought it might just appeal to photography nerds like us. It turns out we weren’t the only ones clamoring for a high-quality, easy-to-use camera that’s small enough to fit in your pocket. And that’s exactly what we’ve built in the Light L16.

We’ll admit, bringing this breakthrough computational camera to market hasn’t been easy. You see, Light is not just building a camera. Or an app. Or an algorithm, as most other startups do. We’re building all of these things and then combining them to create something radically different—something the world has never seen before. One of our executives likes to joke that Light is actually five startups in one. And there’s some truth to that: we are camera-module designers, chipset builders, creators of proprietary computational-imaging software, an e-commerce platform, and a mobile device maker. To put it simply, no one has ever made anything like this before.

The L16 technology is so new we’ve had to build most of it from scratch:

• It took us three years to design and build our own custom ASIC chips, which are needed to control all 16 camera modules at the same time.

• We also developed our own 70mm and 150mm camera modules, complete with custom optics and electrical components. To put this in perspective, most smartphone cameras contain 30mm or 50mm lenses. The higher focal length lenses we were looking for weren’t even on the market yet, so we had to invent them ourselves.

• We created proprietary image-fusing algorithms and processing pipelines that align each of the base camera modules.

• We produced Android software to operate our camera and a Mac/Windows application for depth-of-field editing.

• We implemented an e-commerce platform and initiated a complex global manufacturing and supply chain.

Left: Director of Hardware Engineering, Brian Gilbert, with the first 'lunch box' model; right, the final hardware L16. Note: These photos were not taken by the L16.

Our cutting-edge technology has come a long way in a short amount of time. Not too long ago, the L16 camera was simply one little black box. Using a computer, our engineers had to manually position and focus each camera module, so that the sensors perfectly overlapped. That way, when the camera would fuse and stitch together 10+ images, the final photo would be accurate—down to the micron. Firing one shot took at least an hour or more.

Eventually, we taught the L16 not just to synchronize the right 10+ camera modules, but to focus and fire them simultaneously—and fast. Now, the L16 is producing photos as stunning as these.

Photo credits: Superbloom, David McMurry; Arch Rock, Brian Fulda; Lily, Juan Cruz.

Like any other new invention, revolutionizing the camera has taken some time. For years, we’ve been maniacally focused on producing the highest-quality images possible. Our standards are extreme—they have to be if we are truly reinventing the camera—and we hope you can understand why it’s taken so long for the L16 to reach the high bar we’ve set for ourselves.

It’s probably no surprise that we set the same impeccable standards for our manufacturing and shipping systems. When we took pre-orders 18 months ago, we promised to send our customers L16 cameras in perfect working condition. And in order to deliver on that promise, we will proceed with the same maniacal focus we’ve applied to everything we do at Light—and we won’t sacrifice quality for speed. The consequence, of course, is time.

The next time you’re wondering where your camera is, know that there are more than 100 people working on it at that very moment. Your L16 will be in the mail as soon as it’s ready—but not any sooner. Everyone here at Light is deeply grateful for your ceaseless patience and support. We wouldn’t be able to push the limits of modern photography without you.

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