About Light L16 Camera
Are you a photography professional? Or, are you just an average user who wants to take the highest quality pictures possible?
In either instance, the Light L16 Camera can make it easy to “capture professional-looking photos on the go.” How?
By providing you with the same quality and features as a DSLR camera, but in a size that can fit in your pocket. In fact, Light’s co-founder Dr. Rajiv Laroia claims that it’s like having a camera body, zoom, and 3 fast prime lenses in one compact, easy-to-carry format.
The Light L16 Camera accomplishes this by implementing 16 different modules at 3 different focal lengths into a dust and water-resistant shell, and uses some pretty amazing technology to bring it all together (we’ll talk more about this next), creating unsurpassed quality and ease of use.
Sure, the Light L16 might look a little strange, but that’s probably one of the things that drew you to it in the first place—not to mention all the possibilities it could open up.
But when it comes down to it, is the Light L16 Camera worth the money? To get to the root of this important question, let’s begin by unpacking some of the terms used on the camera’s website.
A Quick Glossary for the Light L16 Camera
If you’re a photography pro, much of what you read on the Light L16 website probably made sense. But if you’re an average user, you might have been a little overwhelmed.
To help you get a better grasp, here are definitions for some of the most frequently used terms:
- DSLR – A digital single-lens reflex camera uses built-in mirrors to allow “you to see exactly what the lens sees through the viewfinder.” Many DSLR cameras also feature interchangeable lenses so that you can customize your images. Upgrading from a standard camera to a DLSR is typically considered a must-do if you’re looking to take your photography to the next level.
- Aperture – Aperture references the amount of light allowed through your camera’s lens. Think of it this way: The amount of light that enters your eyes directly affects your ability to focus on specific objects, and it’s the same with a camera’s aperture.
- Depth of Field – The specific aperture, or amount of light, you choose for your camera directly affects its depth of field, which references areas that are in focus (versus those that are blurry).
- Focal Length – The details behind focal length are fairly complex. But in layman’s terms, this simply references how much of the scene is captured in your final image. Zooming in creates less focal length, and zooming out creates more.
- Exposure – In a nutshell, exposure relates to the amount of light and darkness in an image.
Alright, now that you have a better grasp on some of the terms used on the Light L16 website, let’s take a look at the camera’s specifications.
The Technology Behind the Light L16 Camera
According to co-founders Dr. Rajiv Laroia and Dave Grannan, the basic premise behind the Light L16 was to “capitalize on the innovation that has resulted in very inexpensive camera modules, along with inexpensive, high-quality lenses,” and to “replace one big lens with multiple small lenses.”
In other words, the L16’s modules (read: lenses) aren’t necessarily anything new, as they’re mostly taken from existing technology. But what is new is how they work together.
First, many of Light L16’s modules use something known as folded optics, which allows them to be configured horizontally (i.e. they lay “flat” inside the camera’s body), thereby reducing its bulk.
When you take a picture with the L16, 10 of these modules activate to take the picture. Then, the camera uses “sophisticated computational imaging algorithms” to fuse those 10 pictures into “an incredible high-quality final image with up to 52 megapixel resolution.”
These 10 different images also allow you to adjust focus and depth of field even after a photo is taken (what the company calls “infinite depth of field control”). And with the built-in, 35-150mm true optical zoom, you’ll be able to “get right into the scene without fuzziness or pixelation.”
Like taking nighttime photos? According to Light, the L16’s software can even figure out how to set each exposure differently for great low-light performance.
Any pictures you take on the L16 with be displayed on its 5-inch touchscreen, which, along with its friendly interface and built-in Wi-Fi, allows you to edit and share photos directly from the camera.
The Light L16 can also take up to 4K video from a single camera module at 35mm, 70mm, or 150mm effective focal length, and will output most of the common file formats such as JPEG, TIFF, and raw DNG. It even features a standard 1/4"-20 tripod socket on the bottom for long-exposure shots.
According to Light, all this technology is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 Chip with 2.2Ghz of quad-core processing power, along with an Android OS. The camera will be built by Foxconn (the same company that manufactures Apple iPhones), and the company is planning to license out its camera technology for Android phones at some point in the future.
Whew! That’s a whole lot of new technology crammed into a small space! But how much will all of this cost you?
How Much Will the Light L16 Camera Cost?
At the time of our research, the L16 was only available for preorder with a $199 down payment. Then, the remaining $1,500 will be charged when it ships late summer 2016 (remember this, because we’ll come back around to it shortly).
All Light L16 Cameras will include free shipping.
For this price, the L16 is claimed to include “everything you need to get started.” Although according to the company’s FAQ, they will be “finalizing additional accessory offerings over the next few months.”
Refunds on preorder deposits are available any time before your camera ships. After it ships, you’ll have a 60-day refund window, as long as it’s in its original packaging.
Considering its price and jam-packed technology, what’s everyone saying about the Light L16?
Preorder Buzz for the Light L16 Camera
Although the L16 Camera has been featured in popular news sites like WIRED, Re/code, The Verge, Forbes, and many others, the company states that, “We are not providing free or discounted cameras for testing or review at this time.” As such, none of these articles featured hands-on feedback.
A photograph captured by Light L16 Camera. Image: Light
In general though, most seemed upbeat about the opportunities L16’s technology could open up for professionals and amateurs alike. In fact, WIRED wrote: “But Light has its sights set on the holy grail with the L16: A slim and compact camera that performs like a bulky DSLR without the need for expensive interchangeable lenses or even a large sensor,” and that “the post-shot retouching options are groundbreaking”
However, they also noted that, “While Light plans to ship the L16 to its earliest preorders next summer, anyone who preordered the camera after mid-October will need to wait till the fall.” In other words, they’ll only be shipping a couple thousand units next summer, so if you haven’t already pre-ordered, you might have to wait another year before getting your hands on one.
So, should you go ahead and put down a deposit for the Light L16 Camera?
Does the Light L16 Camera Represent a Solid Value?
There’s no doubt that the Light L16 might represent a huge leap forward in photographic technology, and that it could help just about anyone effortlessly take professional quality photos. But does this mean you should place your order?
Well, at nearly $1700, the L16’s price alone likely puts it well outside the reach of the vast majority of everyday photographers (e.g. those just looking to take great photos of children, friends and family, etc.). In other words, this might be too steep of an investment to give up our camera phones, which work perfectly well in most instances.
On the other hand, if you’re a professional photographer and are looking for a compact, easy-to-use camera that 1) can take great photos and 2) can open up a whole new world of real-time editing possibilities, then the Light L16 might be worth the high price. After all, this is about the price you’d expect to pay for a single high-quality lens.
But remember, if you haven’t already placed an order, you’ll have to wait patiently until next fall to receive yours.
But even if you fall (no pun intended) into this latter category, we could see the L16’s 128GB of on-board storage somewhat limiting. Why? Because without the ability to put in a fresh flash card, you’ll need to constantly dump your photos onto a PC or tablet device. And when you’re taking 52MP images, you might have to do this more often than you’d think.