Palo Alto based startup Light has announced the L16, a new kind of imaging device sporting 16 camera modules. Roughly the size of an iPhone 6S Plus in a case, the Light L16 has 5 cameras with 35mm equivalent lenses, 5 modules with 70mm equivalent primes and 6 units boasting 150mm equivalent telephoto lenses. Each camera module utilises a small imaging chip of the kind typically used in smartphones. The 35mm equivalent units have a traditional, vertically stacked optical arrangement, whilst the 70mm and 150mm equivalent ones utilise a folded-optics design. When taking a picture, 10 of the cameras fire simultaneously and the resulting images are then "computationally fused" to create a clear, highly detailed final photograph (up to 52 megapixels when shooting at the 35mm or 70mm focal lengths). When working at the 150mm end, there is no superresolution advantage - the final images will have 13 megapixels, which is the native pixel count of the individual sensors used - but having multiple cameras take the same shot at the same time still helps with keeping noise levels down and producing HDR imagery even for moving subjects. Additionally, the Light L16 uses depth mapping to allow for post-capture adjustment of the point of focus and depth of field.
The company's website has a gallery of sample photos taken with the Light L16. The images are Web sized, so there's no way to judge things like resolution, detail, sharpness, printability or noise; but some of the images give you an impression of what to expect in terms of DoF, dynamic range and low-light performance. While we cannot tell if the company's bold claim of achieving "DSLR quality" with the device holds up to scrutiny, it's plain to see that the L16 can take pictures that would be pretty much impossible to capture with any of the currently available smartphones out there. And while the Light L16 is a standalone imaging device - running on Android and equipped with WiFi and a touchscreen -, the technology can also be built into cell phones (if manufacturers are willing to make their handsets somewhat thicker than today's models, that is).
For now, you can preorder/reserve the Light L16 for $1,299 (that's $400 less than the MSRP of $1,699), of which $199 is payable today, with the remaining $1,100 due "late summer 2016" when the camera is expected to be available.
Photo & video courtesy: Light (http://light.co)