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Open-Source Camera Could Revolutionize Digital Photography


Stanford Professor Marc Levoy and Graduate Student Andrew Adams

Stanford University professor of Computer Science and of Electrical Engineering Marc Levoy, left, shown with Frankencamera designer Andrew Adams, a graduate student, says the camera will help move computational photography from laboratories and into studi

Credit: L.A. Cicero / Stanford University

The Frankencamera is an open source device developed by Stanford University researchers that will enable programmers to change the camera's features and support new possibilities for digital photography. "The premise of the project is to build a camera that is open source," says Stanford professor Marc Levoy. When the camera's operating software is publicly released, users will be able to continuously modify it.

One of the most mature computational photography concepts is the notion of extending a camera's dynamic range, or its ability to accommodate a wide spectrum of illumination in a single frame. High-dynamic-range imaging involves taking pictures of the same scene with different exposures and then blending them into a composite image in which every pixel is optimally lit. Usually this trick can only be done with images in computers, but the Frankencamera makes it possible to perform this process at the scene, using its open source software.

The Stanford researchers also have developed an algorithm that augments the resolution of videos with high-resolution still photographs, and another objective is to have the camera communicate with computers on a network. "What we're talking about is, tell [the camera] what to do on the next microsecond in a metering algorithm or an auto-focusing algorithm, or fire the flash, focus a little differently and then fire the flash again — things you can't program a commercial camera to do," Levoy says.

View a video of Professor Levoy and graduate researchers discussing the Frankencamera.

From Stanford Report (CA)
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