There's this new camera announced. For sale in a few months, they say. It's 16 different cell phone camera modules banged into a small tablet format, and then computationally combined. It gives you loads of pixels, DoF adjustable in post, digital zoom that is allegedly not terrible, in-camera HDRish, etc. It's a bit like the high end Lytro. In some ways it resembles this thing Ctein suggested in 2011 but in other interesting ways it does not.
Update: To my surprise, Light sent me an email requesting that I add some backlinks to their web site. I see no reason not to, and indeed it seems like a gap in my original remarks. So, here's their corporate web site, and here's a link to the camera's page. I'll be sure to let you all know if they start sending me truckloads of money, or fly me anywhere on a press junket.
Allow me a brief vignette into the marketing of high tech products. The bible here is Crossing the Chasm and the extremely brief executive summary is that there are these people called innovators and early adopters who try new stuff out. You can sell stuff to them for a while. Then there's a gap in the system, and the next thing you have to do is start selling to the early majority, and there's a bunch of work you need to do.
The early adopters "get it", they buy the new thing for its newness. They're technology enthusiasts, and they understand the unique problems that the new thing solves. They will accept a remarkably sketchy and expensive product, because they "get it". It's usually not even a whole product, it's just a widget. The "whole product envelope" typically has huge gaps in it the early adopter has to fill in by himself.
Lytro, and now Light, are in the throes of the early adopter phase. What's interesting here is that the go-to guys on the internet are not early adopters. Thom Hogan and his compadres think of themselves as early adopters, because they embraced digital a decade ago. Now, however, they are serving an audience of enthusiasts and are themselves enthusiasts who are locked in to the DSLR and its followons. What they think of as innovation is a better DSLR, and "a better version of the thing I already have" is almost literally the opposite of innovation.
The most obvious tell is that the operative question always boils down to Ok, how can I pull these files in to Lightroom and start whacking on them with Adobe's toolchain?
This is to completely miss the point. These things capture before the Adobe toolchain becomes relevant. One can think of them as capturing light "in flight" and computationally forming the image in post. Adobe's tools are helpless here.
Furthermore, the innovation isn't in getting better stuff into Photoshop and then applying better Photoshop effects. That's buggy whip stuff. That's the old way. We don't yet know what the new way looks like, but we do know it's not the old way.
This begs the question, who the hell are the early adopters?
You need the early adopters to fund development, to fund the drive to the whole product and to fund the drive to enough volume to bring costs down. You need these people to buy the product before it's ready so you can figure out how the software is really supposed to work, what the UI ought to look like, and so on. They're integral.
They have money. They're interested in photography, in pictures perhaps. I'd like to say that they're not DSLR users, except that the previous two items pretty much guarantee that they are DSLR owners. Therefore, they're unsatisfied DSLR owners, frustrated DSLR owners. At a guess they hate all the fiddly options, all the "shoot RAW and develop in ACR and then import to Lightroom and and and OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK" garbage.
Lest we think of these people as losers, let me point out that they are precisely analogous to film photographers who neither develop nor print. They might, perhaps, be interested in shooting pictures, but not in the technical details necessary to produce the final product. There have been some pretty fair photographers in the past who fit this mold. In this modern era of digital, you almost can't work this way. There isn't any good way to have other people do that stuff. Nobody shoots and hands the SD cards to someone else. Do they?
I don't know if these people exist in sufficient quantity to fund this stage. There are at least two companies that have gotten some money to try it out, though.
How does this affect you?
If you're interested in the new technology, and you think you might like to be an early adopter, stop asking the questions "Does it shoot RAW? How do I import to Lightroom?" The new thing is new and a good part of the time the $1500 you spent will simply vanish after a while as that company's strategy does not prove out. It's all gonna be different, though, from shutter-press to final print.
Being an early adopter is expensive and frustrating, but it has its rewards.
Also, anything Thom Hogan or Lloyd Chambers says about the L16 is almost certain to completely miss the point.