There are a few "Light field" cameras on the market such as the Lytro.

I understand the basic principle of the way they function (I think), but I'd like to know if there is anything special about the sensor itself (not the micro-lens array in front of it) that allows it to know which direction the light has come from. As CCD / CMOS sensors purely register luminosity.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "such as" is there anything else other than lytro on the market ? \$\endgroup\$ May 5, 2014 at 7:42

1 Answer 1


There is nothing special about the sensor, the lens array directs light from different directions onto different pixels, allowing the measurement of intensity versus angle using standard photo sensitive pixel structures.

Confirmation from Lytro thmelselves:

Lytro cross section

From a room full of cameras to a microlens array specially adhered to a standard sensor

This explains why light field cameras are low resolution, many pixels on the sensor make up one pixel in the final image.

  • \$\begingroup\$ aaaaaah OK! that makes sense. I was struggling to figure out how on earth you could measure the incident angle of light onto a single pixel. However, lets see if anyone can give more than an "As far as I know" answer... \$\endgroup\$ Jan 8, 2014 at 12:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DarkcatStudios all I meant by that was there's nothing else special about the sensor, I'm pretty certain there's no angle measuring technology at the pixel level in the Lytro, though it's technically possible using interference gratings. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Grum
    Jan 8, 2014 at 12:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I thought you'd do a bit more digging on that :-) They also go on to say in the Tech specs that there are 100 pixels per micro-lens (that being a 10x10 array) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 8, 2014 at 13:59

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