Over the last half decade, a new field of research has developed, called Computational Photography
. Computational Photography is still in the process of defining itself. As a young field, it incorporates insights from many other fields: mathematics, image processing, optics, art, visual neuroscience, and more. Central to the field is extending the capabilities of the camera. You may be surprised to learn that cameras have hardly deviated from the camera obscura (box-with-a-hole-in-it) design
over the last hundred fifty years. Computational photography is, to date, the most radical re-imagining of what a camera is, and what a camera can do. Frédo
Durand recently said "Computation is the new Optics
" and this is probably the best field-defining phrase we've heard yet. But there is no computation without hardware.
Researchers have created many new camera designs, extending and enhancing almost every functional element of the camera. Many of these new cameras attempt to capture a richer representation of light, which is called the "light field". What is the light field? Surrounding you, now and always, is a reverberating volume of light. Rays of light bounce around you from every possible angle. Some new computational cameras attempt to capture this light field, which has the potential to give the photographer unprecedented creative control... after taking the picture.