Lytro light-field camera is for real, priced at $400 with early 2012 release
In case you think things are boring, here is a new branch of photography shooting up (so many (un)intentional puns in that sentence), Lytro and its light field photography camera. The camera is getting real, with an early 2012 launch and a starting price of $400 with 8GB storage ($500 for 16GB - priced like a smartphone?). It will have a 35-280mm (35mm equivalent) 8x zoom lens with an f2 aperture throughout.
This is a small device, don't think SLR! It looks more like a smaller security camera. A downside of the small size is a tiny LCD display on the back, around 1.5" inches. It may be one of the CES/PMA 2012 attractions (second week of January in 2012 - if you need(ed) an excuse to go to Vegas).
dpreview has published an interview + overview of the camera, technology and company with the company's founder and CEO, Ren Ng. He may look like a college student, but he already got his Ph.D at Stanford in 2006 and he has been working on Lytro since then.
Sample pictures are available at the Lytro website. For more technical details on the theory and science behind it, you can check Ren Ng's 200-page Ph.D dissertation published in the summer of 2006 (PDF file). Spoiler alert: This is how the book ends: "I look forward to the day when I can stand in the tall grass and learn from fellow light field photographers shooting in the field."
The cameras are available for pre-order at the Lytro website.
A giant cross-section diagram on the Lytro website shows some of the crucial body parts (you can see it right below in smaller size)...
Pulling the rug from underneath the "megapixels"?
Lytro (smartly perhaps) avoided the use of the term "megapixels" and is instead using the term "megarays" which counts millions of light rays of data.