Skip to main content

Hitachi developing a lensless camera that focuses images after they are captured

sony research on chip polarization filter image sensor
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Hitachi might not be known for its image-capture technology, but a new press release details the workings of a lensless camera technology the company is working on that’s capable of focusing the image after it’s already been captured.

The details in the press release are rather verbose, but in its simplest form, Hitachi’s camera uses a specialized piece of film in front of the image sensor to direct the light onto the sensor in a particular pattern.

hitachi-lensless-cam
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The information captured by the sensor is then used to reconstruct the image with the help of specialized algorithms. Since depth information is captured in addition to overall exposure, Hitachi says the technology allows the image to be refocused after capture, similar to how Lytro’s light field cameras work, albeit at a much smaller level.

It’s safe to assume the quality of the image won’t be nearly as impressive as those captured with traditional cameras. But Hitachi’s goal isn’t to replace traditional cameras. Instead, Hitachi hopes the small size of these cameras will enable manufacturers to place cameras in places where it was previously unfeasible due to size and weight constraints.

Specifically, Hitachi said it expects the cameras to be used in automated driving, human-behavior analysis, robotics, and mobile devices. Mobile devices could technically be a reference to smartphones, but it’s more likely Hitachi is referencing other handheld devices for more commercial purposes.

This isn’t the first time a lensless camera has been developed. There are already lensless cameras designed for smartphones, but given how small more traditional camera systems have become, the decrease in quality doesn’t make up for the reduction in size.

‘Photoshopped’ royal photo causes a stir
The Princess of Wales with her children.

[UPDATE: In a message posted on social media on Monday morning, Princess Kate said that she herself edited the image, and apologized for the fuss that the picture had caused. “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing," she wrote, adding, "I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused."]

Major press agencies have pulled a photo of the U.K.’s Princess of Wales and her children amid concerns that it has been digitally manipulated.

Read more
Help NASA in its quest to learn more about our sun
Scientists have used the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter’s Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) in a new mode of operation to record part of the Sun’s atmosphere that has been almost impossible to image until now. By covering the Sun’s bright disc with an ‘occulter’ inside the instrument, EUI can detect the million-times fainter ultraviolet light coming from the surrounding corona.

SunSketcher Solar Eclipse Project Tutorial

NASA is calling on citizen astronomers in the U.S. to help it learn more about our sun.

Read more
How to photograph April’s solar eclipse, according to Nikon
A total solar eclipse.

Solar Eclipse Photography Tips from Nikon | Best Camera Settings | 2024 Solar Eclipse Guide

Excitement is building for next month’s total solar eclipse that will see the moon’s shadow fall across a large part of the U.S., from Maine in the northeast all the way to Texas in the south.

Read more