So outrageous are the looks of the L16 camera, you might find yourself checking today's date to make sure we haven't entered into April. But no, this is completely real. Light, the company behind the L16 camera, took a compact body and crammed 16 cameras, each with its own plastic-covered lens, into it. The idea is to create an all-in-one camera with multiple focal lengths, allowing the L16 to use computational photography to combine resulting images for higher quality photos from an aggregation of photos taken with small sensors.
This isn't just a proof-of-concept; you can reserve a pre-order for one through November 6th for $1,299, after which the price goes up to $1,699. Still, $1,300 for what amounts to a touchscreen-controlled camera with a few small sensors sounds steep. However, the results are rather promising. Yes, Light does want this to replace your DSLR, but no, it won't just yet (but then again, maybe it could... it's an impressive little thing).
Each lens of the L16 has its own 13-megapixel sensor behind it. There are five units at 35mm, five units at 70mm, and six units at 150mm, making the entire unit flexible enough to cover a range of subjects. But there's quite a bit going on behind the scenes.
The L16 captures images at any range from 35mm to 150mm. To do so, it captures ten 13-megapixel images with a selection of ten of its lens-sensor units (which ten depends on your settings) and combines the data to create a rather large 52-megapixel image. The L16 uses some of the data to expand the number of pixels in the image, while it uses other data to increase performance in areas such as dynamic range, noise, sharpness, etc. Even things like focus and depth of field can be adjusted after the image is taken, similar to cameras by Lytro.
The Verge got their hands on an L16 and said its images "weren't as punchy as ones of the same scenes shot by a Canon 5D Mark III," but that "there was just as much, if not more detail in the L16's images."
Considering the entire camera is more the shape of your smartphone, including its five-inch display, that sounds quite promising. If this is just the prototype, we just might see all professional photographers with tiny black boxes in a not-so-distant future.
Those interested in pre-ordering the L16 can lock in a price of $1,299 with a $199 payment today, with the rest of the payment due around the time that the camera delivers in late Summer 2016. After November 6th, however, the L16 goes up to $1,699.