Plenoptic cameras

The ideas of light field photography have been on my mind lately, given that I’ve been reading lots about image processing and attempting to develop open source workflows for photogrammetric products and am very curious as to how one could use them to interact with existing software.

They work on the basis of a microlens array which estimates the direction light rays travel in a scene. While the championed attribute of these cameras by the pioneers at Lytro are their ability to refocus images after exposure, for Earth Observation I can imagine they would be very useful in generating more accurate BRDF/Reflectance models directly from observation, rather than the fitting uncertain models so frequently dealt with.

I’m tempted to pick up one of Lytro’s cheap models to play around with the file formats, I see a few people have written libraries for Python to deal with .lfp using Python Imaging Library which I’m a big fan of. Certainly could be an interesting area of development for photogrammetry.

The combination of plenoptic imagery with LiDAR is a pretty menacing prospect as the two technologies come into the consumer domain, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on what the computer vision guys (including myself!) can come up with in terms of ideas for both of their use!

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