Computational plenoptic imaging

Gordon Wetzstein*, Ivo Ihrke, Douglas Lanman, Wolfgang Heidrich, Ramesh Raskar, Kurt Akeley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

3 Scopus citations


A new generation of computational cameras is emerging, spawned by the introduction of the Lytro light-field camera to the consumer market and recent accomplishments in the speed at which light can be captured. By exploiting the co-design of camera optics and computational processing, these cameras capture unprecedented details of the plenoptic function: a ray-based model for light that includes the color spectrum as well as spatial, temporal, and directional variation. Although digital light sensors have greatly evolved in the last years, the visual information captured by conventional cameras has remained almost unchanged since the invention of the daguerreotype. All standard CCD and CMOS sensors integrate over the dimensions of the plenoptic function as they convert photons into electrons. In the process, all visual information is irreversibly lost, except for a two-dimensional, spatially varying subset: the common photograph. This course reviews the plenoptic function and discusses approaches for optically encoding high-dimensional visual information that is then recovered computationally in post-processing. It begins with an overview of the plenoptic dimensions and shows how much of this visual information is irreversibly lost in conventional image acquisition. Then it discusses the state of the art in joint optical modulation and computation reconstruction for acquisition of high-dynamic-range imagery and spectral information. It unveils the secrets behind imaging techniques that have recently been featured in the news and outlines other aspects of light that are of interest for various applications before concluding with question, answers, and a short discussion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationACM SIGGRAPH 2012 Courses, SIGGRAPH'12
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
EventACM Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques Conference, SIGGRAPH'12 - Los Angeles, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 5 2012Aug 9 2012

Publication series

NameACM SIGGRAPH 2012 Courses, SIGGRAPH'12


OtherACM Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques Conference, SIGGRAPH'12
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLos Angeles, CA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Software


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