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Light’s 16-lens camera gets another spec bump, won’t ship till April at the earliest

Remember Light’s L16 camera? It’s the one that promises DSLR-quality images without the bulk and size of such a device.

Originally slated for a late-summer launch, the Silicon Valley-based company said in July it was pushing the release of the $1700 camera to “early 2017.”

A further update posted this week attempts to be more specific, with the company saying it’s “on track” to start mass production of the L16 “early in the second quarter of 2017,” which means around April time. Take note, though, that date is for manufacture – not delivery – of the 16-lens device.

Indeed, Light says the L16 camera will ship to pre-order customers “as soon as possible after mass production begins,” adding that a more detailed production schedule will be coming in January.

While the delays may be causing some pre-order customers to sweat a little, others will be happy the company is keeping them informed and therefore willing to give it the time it needs to get the design right rather than risk receiving an imperfect product.

Spec bump

Besides receiving a $30 million cash injection from GV (formerly Google Ventures) earlier this year, Light has also given its camera a spec bump in the last six months, extending its lens capability at the wide end to 28mm from 35mm, while retaining 150mm at the other end for tighter shots. It also increased the internal memory to 256GB from 128GB, a wise move considering each image will be a whopping 52 megapixels.

This week’s update also revealed further improvements to increase the camera’s light-gathering ability. Instead of the original plan of using f/2.4 apertures for all 16 camera modules, it’ll now use five 28mm modules at f/2.0, five 70mm modules at f/2.0, with the six 150mm modules remaining at f/2.4.

The Silicon Valley company caused quite a stir when it unveiled the L16’s revolutionary design in 2015. It’s touting the device as bringing “DSLR quality photography to a connected camera that fits in a pocket.”

To design the L16, Light’s engineers set about deconstructing a large DSLR lens into 16 small lenses. The company explains: “The L16 uses multiple small lenses to shoot photos at the same time, then fuses them into a DSLR quality image … the design allows the L16 to gather 10 times more light than a traditional smartphone, delivering incredible low light performance.” Notably, the camera also lets you adjust the focal plane and depth of field after taking the image. If it sounds interesting, check out the recently released video above for more details on how the L16 works.

In July, the company told its pre-order customers that “hardware is hard,” and that its challenges include “developing a paradigm-shifting optics system which is powered by revolutionary imaging software.” With its latest update announcing an April – possibly May – shipping date, let’s hope it can finally deliver what could be a truly exceptional camera.