As cameras in phones continually get better, people are dropping those point-and-shoot cameras and are going for the device that's already in their pocket. Can you blame them? Smartphone camera pictures can be crisp as day in the right conditions, and the camera on the iPhone 5S is one of the best out there. Yet, even with all of this, Apple may be planning a solo camera of their own.
The company has just received a patent for a camera that let's users refocus the image after it's already taken, much like the Lytro camera that has been out for the better part of the year. In the patent, Apple even cites Lytro as being a "prior art," but the company seems to want to out do them at their own game.
A digital camera system configurable to operate in a low-resolution refocusable mode and a high-resolution non-refocusable mode comprising: a camera body; an image sensor mounted in the camera body having a plurality of sensor pixels for capturing a digital image; an imaging lens for forming an image of a scene onto an image plane, the imaging lens having an aperture; and an adaptor that can be inserted between the imaging lens and the image sensor to provide the low-resolution refocusable mode and can be removed to provide the high-resolution non-refocusable mode, the adaptor including a microlens array with a plurality of microlenses; wherein when the adaptor is inserted to provide the low-resolution refocusable mode, the microlens array is positioned between the imaging lens and the image sensor.
The camera is will be able to refocus pictures, but also allow for changes in the quality and resolution of the image.
Nokia, however, released the Nokia Refocus app recently that let's users do about the same thing with their pictures, so it's not totally clear how Apple is going to add their own twist on their camera, or even if they'll be bringing this technology to the iPhone to begin with. Apple being Apple, they'll have something up their sleeve.
Jony Ive is going to have fun with this one.