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Photonics Dictionary

light field

The term light field refers to the spatial distribution of light rays traveling in all directions through a given space. It includes information about the intensity and direction of light rays at every point in a scene. In the context of imaging and photography, the light field is a comprehensive description of the light entering a camera or other optical system.

Key points about light field include:

Directional information: Unlike traditional photographs that capture only the total light intensity at each pixel, a light field photograph or image captures information about the direction of the light rays as well. This allows for a more comprehensive representation of the visual scene.

3D information: The light field can be used to extract three-dimensional information about a scene. By analyzing how light rays arrive from different directions, it becomes possible to infer the depth and position of objects in the captured space.

Plenoptic camera: Light field technology is often associated with plenoptic cameras, which are designed to capture both spatial and directional information of the light rays. These cameras typically use an array of micro lenses in front of the image sensor to record the direction of incoming light.

Computational photography: Light field information can be used in computational photography to enable post-capture adjustments, such as changing the focus or perspective of an image. This flexibility is a result of capturing a richer set of information than traditional photographs.

Applications: Light field technology finds applications in various fields, including computer graphics, virtual reality, and augmented reality. It is also used in scientific imaging, medical imaging, and cinematography.

Understanding the light field allows for more advanced and flexible manipulation of images in post-processing, contributing to innovations in imaging technologies and applications. Light field photography and computational photography techniques continue to advance, offering new possibilities for creative expression and practical applications.

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