This is my long awaited review of the Light L16. Announced 2 years ago it is finally out. The Light L16 combines 16 lenses in a mobile style body. Light say this is aimed to replace a traditional DSLR and a bag of lenses.
The Light L16 uses computational imaging to get to the final image. When you make a photograph, it uses multiple lenses to compose the photo. Up to 10 images are combined and then stitched together in post production. On the widest angle setting this produces an 81 Megapixel image.
So how does it work and what do the images look like?
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Though it can never replace the big DSLRs and Mirror SLRS because: physics.
What they can do, the ones with more space can do better (bigger multi-lens, etc.)
But it's nice this exist, multi-cams on cellphones are all over.
My initial impression is that the L16 is trying to compete with a smartphone camera but is marketed to be a dslr replacement. The cellphone we already carry and their camera is good enough.
When I want to go beyond my cellphone photos, better image quality on par with a $2k camera is expected. The ability to edit RAW, in Adobe or other software is needed.
When you said it shoots everything "wide open", I pretty much made my mind up. All camera lenses have an optimum aperture for best results. Typically stopped down 2 or more stops. Every lens suffers from aberration when wide open and diffraction when fully stopped down. In order to establish this optimum aperture, many pictures need to be taken in various conditions. The L 16 has 16 varying focal length lenses, all of which are fairly small diameter, and not place concentric with one another. Optically each image is therefore a hodge podge of images. This hodge podge is further contaminated by using every lens at it's widest aperture, in order to "get more light into the camera." This massive digital "mess", is then interwoven and processed by software.
The people at Light are probably a lot smarter than I am, and a lot of engineering has gone into this product. However, the idea and the results do not add up. It seems that rather than re-invent photography, they have un-invented many of the well established fundamentals of photography.
Bottom line after all???? I bought the camera for $800 at eBay on December 2018. I'd updated the firmware using my home WiFi. Will it replace my Nikon SLR? I do not think so. I'm a LG G6 smartphone user with a tripod and it serves me well for general photography. The L16 takes better pics than a cellphone but no better than a DSLR. I use a rubber bumper to protect the camera but I'm still not impressed. At least I didn't paid $2,000....
2k junk.No need to replace traditional lenses some things are part of photography.Imagine trying to paint without brushes...yes there may be sponges and other methods but nothing will replace paint on brushes (artistic painting)
This camera has dramatically changed since its release. Firmware updates have made this easily rival DSLRs no question. Low light improved. Key is to export a DNG from their Lumen software and post process
I don't see any purpose for this camera or the point to 16 crappy lenses and tiny sensors when you have beautiful competent compact cameras with high quality lenses like the Sony RX100, what problem does the L16 solve all this complication?
As Mr. Wonderful likes to say, take it behind the barn and shoot it!
Obviously a Beta prototype to get both publicity for a "startup" concept, and wet the appetite of others to license/build out the technology under a major manufacturer, and lumen software through open source collaboration as it is built on an Android base.
Much like "Red's" Smartphone/Camera, a $1-2K work in progress.
Looking at samples on flickr ... I don't like the image quality at all of the L16. My small lumix GX85 with the kit lens 12-32 does a lot better in every possible way for only a fraction of the price. My pixel 2 seems to offer better IQ except maybe when zooming a lot. I'd rather have one or two lenses of better quality than 16 mediocre.
Being advertised as the dslr replacement is a joke. I couldn’t shoot a wedding with this period.
What about flash?
Off camera flash?
It’s too laggy
32 gigs and it’s full?
32 gig upgrade?
It’s a daytime landscape camera for people who like having “toys”
I was willing to try this out for maybe $1000, but $2000us is too much, especially when I work in social media and I want those images right away. And those file sizes 170Mb is way too big for what I need. I'd try it out, but it seems out of time and out of price, like how satellite radio was launched after the ipod existed.
They may be intelligent but they doesn't know how business works, how market works. Instead of gathering customers, they are making their products way too pricey. They are probably like, if customers gonna pay 5-6k for dslr, our new product deserves to be sold at 2k. And that's ridiculous way to start a business.
Haven't read the other comments, but curious to know how stacking or overlapping 13MP images can produce more than a 13MP image. Also, given the size of the lenses to gather more light and image, image detail would seem to suffer compared to both dslr's and newer smart phones.
@TedForbes I test drove the Lytro and one thing that stuck out to me was that it performed slowly unless it was very bright out and had a REALLY hard time focusing in low light unless held perfectly still. Did you get any sense of how well L16 does in motion and in low light?
I think in 5-10 years, this concept is going to be amazing, and may even take over. That said, there will be growing pains, not only for this company, but for others dabbling in the same concept. The journey will be rough, but the destination will be mind blowing.
Never understood the appeal of this thing. It's new, but not better, especially at that ungodly price point. I'll keep my bag of lenses. You say it's supposed to replace high end photography equipment? If a pro photographer pulled this out of their bag for any pro job like a wedding, they would laughed out of the room. It's ugly, its awkward to hold, poor image quality, fake DOF, laggy imports, complicated workflow. I admire their ambition but this will never have a comfortable spot in the market, especially with the dawn of mirrorless. Hard pass
Thanks for your honest review. I've had my L16 since Nov 2017 and I feel just like you. Great company and concept. Decent pictures and easy to use camera settings. YES Lumen is not a very good program and adds an extra step before you can import into Lightroom. I hope they improve Lumen. At this time I'm thinking about selling my camera. As you say the camera is well built but the extra time you must spend processing each individual image in Lumen before being able to crop and/or adjust color/exposure just is not worth it to me. Lumen is only good a helping you decide which images are worth saving.
I wouldn’t want to trade a Boeing 777 for the Wright Flier but that doesn’t mean the Write Flier wasn’t important. Anyone who doubts that computational photography isn’t the vision for the future can hit me with a buggy whip.
i think it can be a nice hdri camera but not yet it can be a one hit wonder at lees the company have plas for make a big jump and make a portable photogrammetry portable camera for textures that can be a nice for video games and animation studios but is really expensive
Nokia 808 preview operated with 41 mp. Otherwise used its oversampling tech with 2mp, 5 mp and 8 mp resolution. Is it the tech we are waiting for? I don't think so. A. I. In smartphones with photography is developing really fast. Smartphones will succeed. Maybe combining tech with smartphones will do. Huawei is using 3 lenses. So smartphones do so. So another device Making photos, I don't think it will be. The prossionals won't use them either. You are limiting your own creativity because the manual mode suck. When you can do all manual with your own dslr. It will flop.
Thanks for your honest review. I had been thinking of the Light 16 as a travel camera, sort of a high megapixel smart phone. Your video has convinced me to upgrade from my Sony A7 to the A7 II or III with it's 42 megapixels instead. As far as the future potential for me, if I am going to spend that kind of money I think I prefer an interchangeable lens camera which lets you use a variety of native or vintage lenses. I am attracted by the size but it sounds like it is considerable heavier than the iPhone 8 plus which I use in a pinch or when I don't feel like carrying heavy gear. Also sounds like the post processing in photoshop or light room is a pain in the ass. I look forward to your future reviews.
Rather than making infocommercials, how about getting one in the hands of independent reviewers, magazines, or test labs? It won't happen, because it doesn't work. Obviously, they're getting desparate and resulting to YouTube propoganda.
I probably know more about it than you, being following it for years. You have no test results on photo quality, speed, image blur due to stitching, low light capability. You know, the stuff that real photographers care about. You didn't ever answer the question--has one independent reviewer tested and evaluated one with like, scientific results? All you're doing regurgitating the operating manual and making some general comments.
I have owned this camera. It takes almost artificially crisp photos in good lighting condition. Low light performance is HORRIBLE. And since all photos are taken at f/15 there is NO bokeh. Any background blur must be added in post editing. And try taking a photo directly towards a strong light source. Looks awful. And the image generation is soooo slooow. I sold mine and bought a Sony a7rii instead. So much better and more versatile.
Be careful. I never thought that DSLRs would produce higher quality images than film based cameras but here we are. Once they (whoever they may be) are able to implement better AI software (machine learning algorithms) one-click one-offs could very well surpass DSLRs and without all the time consuming workflows.
I had ordered an L16 and returned it and got my money back.
My son who is a professional photographer tested the camera for me and told me all the bits and pieces that you highlight in your review.
Facit: If someone wants something fancy looking and something to impress his/her non-professional photographer friends...OK.
Thank you for your honest and qualified review!
Thank you light.co for taking it back and refunding me!
The thing with a lot of these cameras is they don't give a true representation of what our eyes are seeing. Stitching over ten images together doesn't sit right with me. When cameras learn to show us things the eyes don't see at all I'll be interested. Right now they all seem too focused on taking away half of what we do see.
would have been nice to show l16 vs smartphone as it does seem to be ready yet to compete against a large sensor camera, too bad these engineers never learn the lesson : a working prototype is only 10% of the total work to deliver the full product/service to customers.
To all those people bashing this technology. Remember this. When digital cameras were at their infancy Kodak was laughing at them despite having digital camera technology and the capital to work on it further. I still remember the ad on a newspaper for a 2 megapixel Casio point and shoot digital camera two decades back. I have personally used this camera. It paled in comparison to a 35mm film camera but gave you instant results. Today we know where digital camera technology stands. People said the same thing about mirror less cameras. We all now know what happened to Kodak because of their lack of foresight. This could be a groundbreaking technology or it may be not. I cannot predict at the moment. But do not be so quick to judge. Let the technology evolve and time answer.
Great review, thanks a lot. I looks like It is very hard to compute those from different lenses images into one. The tiny details go all over the place making blurry spots. How to better stretch different focus length distortions into one would be the solution. Apple cannot figure it out with two lenses in 'photo mode' and they have to do it with seven or ten. Great idea, but not consumer ready yet.
Part of me feels like this is a huge campaign just to sell the tech to google or apple for future smartphone use. Data and conceptual proof that the technology works with any lens combinations they'd want to use. It clearly doesn't work easily or well when all combined, and utilizing the software approach negates a big selling point(upload online immediately) and contradicts the dslr killer claim by perpetuating the method dslrs use(that is, upload and edit and then post, but even dslrs can send jpegs remotely to phones on the spot now) so in that regard it's a step back.
None of this mentions how it's simply out of touch with the photo world. If you're attempting to appeal to the photography community, you don't launch a camera for $2000 that has no hot shoe, no tether capabilities, no wifi, a poor holding design, a poor USB cable placement design, and no memory or video capability. By emphasizing megapixels(something every real photographer knows isn't everything) and removing all studio capability, it limits itself to landscape photography and seems to be trying to appeal to the cell phone photographer crowd by offering something much larger and less convenient than a cell phone and that can't upload to IG or FB. At best it's a concept for a smaller and more specific alternative to a travel DSLR, but something like that should be only a couple of hundred dollars. Not thousand. I won't be surprised if they're using this to refine the photo processing app and general tech behind it so they can sell the tech off in the next year or two and walk away from this.
I purchased a "Refurbished" Light L16 today 4/19/18, because it was $600.00 less than a "Brand New" L16 ... It's still expensive, but worth the gamble I suppose. (Maybe I should've purchased another L Series Lens instead?) I shoot Canon. I have a Canon 6D, 70D and M3. I love my Canon cameras and would not think of replacing them with the L16. However, lugging the larger DSLR's (And lenses) around everywhere you go is simply not practical, so I purchased this as an alternative to both the DSLR's and the Smart Phones. Although the smart phone tech has excelled in the past few years or so, I can't imagine the image quality or file size of a smart phone being better than that of the L16, but I may be mistaken. (I am very impressed by the iPhone X and the Google Pixel Smart Phone image / detail quality) The L16 and its tech is interesting and like the reviewer says, I'm going to stick with this company Light, its tech and the L16 just to see what happens and if all improves as I hope it does. If not, well ... I've blown more money on worse things I suppose.
There's no purpose of the camera as a replacement unless it equals and improves on the existing DSLR cameras. From your reivew it seems to fail on all points of comparing to a DSLR form factor. At whatever focal length you chose on any camera today you get equal quality on the shot so getting a lesser photo is a downgrade. Not being able to use the RAW directly from the card is a downgrade since you have to double import to get to lightroom, a downgrade from all cameras today. Paying full price for a half featured phone isn't fair. They should charge what you get and pay as they release real features. Not pay full price and wait for the gaps to fill in and hope the gaps are filled perfectly. New technology shouldn't have any downgrades or what's the point of new cameras that restrict everything. A digital camera should allow for huge ranges of adjustments to allow for creativity. Not force the user to have a slim choice then force in lightroom two steps down the workflow. This is in no way a smart phone or a replacement to a pro camera at all. Every factor you said makes it a downgrade to all tech and only hopes for something that comes close. Even the design isn't the greatest as all the lens placement wasnt thought of when holding the camera with both hands and front screen are sub-par of any $1000 cell phone screen. I had high hopes for this but thoroughly disappointed on all factors possible.
On top of that no sd card slot. So you take 256gb of files and wait forever to transfer. on location while charging battery so you can continue shooting in the forest, while 2hrs goes by and the light has changed. AKA not professional or even anything close to even film speed with 35mm or medium format changing cartridges. And it's only usb type-c so can't plug into any desktop or laptop without buying a card or adapter, which they don't sell on their site.
cost to replace shitty screen?
cost to replace broken lenes?
cost to replace internal battery?
No info on shutter count per charge, video specs for future release of OS. Come on
sad, me and my coworker were following them years ago, and like what you said, years later so much have change in the photo industry, and I think now a days, people just want light weight gear with dslr quality pictures, 4k, amazing images stabilization and social media ready. For $2000, you have so many other option out there.
I have a light 16 also and recently bought a Huawei Mate SE phone and the images are already much better on my phone disappointingly, I think the l16 might be better for certain applications like landscape photos or ?? but... I already prefer the phone images. I really hope they are able to figure out the software, not impressed so far though. Thanks for your video, it's spot on.
I'm pretty sure computational imaging is the future along with augmented reality and the ability to probably do photoshopping in camera while composing. And that it's going to do away with the "DSLR and a bag of lenses". But I don't think this camera is it. In fact I expect this company to go bust, a valiant but ultimately ill-fated pioneer.
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