Newswise — A new kind of imaging device is now hitting the consumer market--light-field or plenoptic cameras. They're different from the kinds of cameras you're used to using. Normal cameras have one lens, which must be focused on the subject; otherwise it will come out blurry. Light-field cameras have one main lens and an array of tiny lenslets positioned just in front of the sensor. This allows them to record the direction of each of the incoming rays that contribute to each pixel.

With that information--and some clever post-processing--you can generate many different images from a snapshot long after you've taken it. Don't like how you focused that shot? No problem, you can refocus it later. Wish you had a stereo view? You can generate that later, too. Freelancer Mark Harris surveys recent developments in light-field photography and offers a taste of what's yet to come.