Plenoptic light field rendering is the future of photography. Basically the image is captured by a grid of thousands of microlenses. Each microlens captures a grid of pixels, and you use a computer program to choose which pixel in each grid is used to make up the final image. The advantage of this is that you can choose the focal plane and depth of field after you take the photo. The software can also create different perspectives and even rotate the view slightly using the same technique. The first working prototype was demonstrated recently, and it’s pretty amazing. Check out the video on this page to see how it works.
My jaw was hanging open when I saw it. I can easily see this becoming the only way pictures are taken in the future. Once manufacturing techniques are refined, and computing power increases, there would be no excuse to use regular photography any more. I give it 15-20 years before plenoptic is the norm.
I think it’s easy to feel a bit threatened when the entire field of photography is about to be turned upside-down. I’m sure this is how film photographers feel about digital. We’ve got to evolve or become extinct.