Light Field Photography with a Hand-Held Plenoptic Camera


Ren Ng, Stanford University

Marc Levoy, Stanford University

Mathieu Brédif, Stanford University

Gene Duval, Duval Design

Mark Horowitz, Stanford University

Pat Hanrahan, Stanford University


Stanford University Computer Science Tech Report CSTR 2005-02

April, 2005



Our prototype in use.



Photographs digitally refocused at different depths, computed after a single exposure of our light field camera.  The fourth image shows what a conventional camera would have produced.




This paper presents a camera that samples the 4D light field on its sensor in a single photographic exposure. This is achieved by inserting a microlens array between the sensor and main lens, creating a plenoptic camera. Each microlens measures not just the total amount of light deposited at that location, but how much light arrives along each ray. By re-sorting the measured rays of light to where they would have terminated in slightly different, synthetic cameras, we can compute sharp photographs focused at different depths. We show that a linear increase in the resolution of images under each microlens results in a linear increase in the sharpness of the refocused photographs. This property allows us to extend the depth of field of the camera without reducing the aperture, enabling shorter exposures and lower image noise. Especially in the macrophotography regime, we demonstrate that we can also compute synthetic photographs from a range of different viewpoints. These capabilities argue for a different strategy in designing photographic imaging systems.

To the photographer, the plenoptic camera operates exactly like an ordinary hand-held camera. We have used our prototype to take hundreds of light field photographs, and we present examples of portraits, high-speed action and macro close-ups. 


Tech Report  150 dpi (1 MB)


Video  AVI (74.4 MB)  Uses XVid codec.


© Ren Ng, 2004-2005.