When I told my son I was buying the new Light L16 camera his comment was, “Dad, you know better than to buy first-generation technology.” But I figured that with a “no questions asked” return policy I couldn’t go wrong We were both right.
The Light L16 is an advanced technology camera that features 16 forward facing lenses of various focal lengths. It is essentially more of a visual computer than a camera. When you snap a picture the Light uses 10 of its sixteen lenses to create an image of up to a staggering 52 megapixels using 10 different perspectives and light levels. This gives the resulting images true High Dynamic Resolution (HDR). The camera also has a 5x optical zoom. You can change the depth of field and other parameters after you take the shot. The only thing missing from the lens array is a fisheye lens, but given the physical limits of the case, that’s understandable.
The Light L16 advanced technology camera is advertised as being pocket-sized. It is if you happen to be a kangaroo. It’s a little on the bulky side, but with what’s stuffed into its beautiful industrial design, I didn’t find that to be a problem. The Light L16 comes with some very creative editing software which is being constantly upgraded. But perhaps in its effort to suit higher-end photo enthusiasts, the Light is missing some functionality I consider essential if it really wants to be the ultimate point and shoot camera, all of which can be found in other premium models Three items top my short list of shortcomings:
- No Electronic Viewfinder. No matter the image quality, in the battle between bright sunlight and the LCD display, the sunlight most often wins. This means you are guessing on whether you got your shot in real time.
- No built-in level. For those of us whose visual acuity ain’t what it used to be (the majority of our age group) the ability to line up a shot with either a level or a grid prevents cockeyed shots that never look quite as good when fixed in editing. This feature could be a software upgrade, but right now, Light says it’s not on its product map.
- Panorama stitching software. Sony, Leica, and Canon all give you the ability to create stunning panorama images in real time. Light is considering a software upgrade but for now, you’ll need a program like Photoshop.
- No Removable Storage. This is just plain silly. A camera this good needs either an SD or at least micro-SD card so you have some flexibility in dealing with your output and not tying you to a computer to transfer pictures and allow you to worry less about running out of memory with those big files.
The folks at light have a long list of improvements that they’re hoping to bring out in coming weeks and months. They have been turning out new software upgrades at a brisk pace.
Picture quality in the Light L16 is nothing short of the stunning with almost breathtaking HDR and the ability to composite views from 16 different lenses.
Bottom line: The price tag for the Light L16 is a substantial, though not exorbitant, $1950, direct. Light feels that for many of us, this may be the only camera you’ll ever need to carry. If you love the picture quality and can put up with the shortcomings then go for it; otherwise, keep your eyes open for upgrades.
This video from Light does a terrific job of explaining the way their technology works, without resorting to too much hyperbole:
There’s no question that this is an amazing piece of technology with some major engineering advances. But I, for one, will wait for Light to see the light when it comes to what I consider some necessary functionality.