Light’s L16 was a radical design concept when it was originally introduced in October, 2015 — but the concept has become a reality, as the company is now shipping the first production units to its pre-order customers. The final design is quite similar to the concept it showed off back then, with a few minor tweaks, and, despite some setbacks, customers are probably excited to get their hands on the innovative shooter.
The Light L16 is so-named because it has 16 camera modules, and it combines images from multiple modules at once to create images with greater depth, clarity, detail, color rendering and general quality than you’d otherwise be able to get out of a device that’s essentially the size of a thick smartphone. The L16’s sample images show depth-of-field and sharpness that would leave many DSLRs in the dust, in fact, which is the whole idea of the multi-module array.
To get here, Light had to build its own application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips, and create its own 70mm and 150mm camera modules, since those focal lengths weren’t yet available from suppliers that typically create much wider angle lenses for use in smartphones, as those are a better fit with the photographic needs of most customers.
Light also notes it had to create its own image-fusing algorithms to combine all the images captured from the discrete units, and to do so quickly and with effective, snappy autofocus. The team also developed its own Android software for operating the camera (Android is the base of its OS) and created a dedicated app for Windows and Mac to control depth-of-field post-capture.
It sounds like shipping will be a relatively slow-moving process, as the company takes pains to note that it’s focused on quality assurance for new customers, but hopefully some early users will get their hands on the L16 very soon, and can share their impressions of the novel photographic device.