Special lens brings 3D capabilities to standard camera equipment

A camera lens has been developed that allows photographers to benefit from the advantages of 3D technology using their existing equipment.

Previously, the capture of depth information was only possible using images or footage from camera arrays or special light field cameras.

Along with the two image dimensions, these also record the direction of incident light rays.

However, photographers and filmmakers had to pay for the advantages - such as extended depth of field, adjustment of focus or blur in post-processing, depth-based segmentation and 3D images - with high acquisition costs and cumbersome work flows.

Start-up company K-Lens has now developed its eponymous special lens which enables all these features without requiring additional expensive equipment.

“The innovation of our lens is that it’s compatible with today’s technical standards and can, therefore, be used with any camera,” said company founder Matthias Schmitz.

The K-Lens offers complete control over focus and blur, fully automatic segmentation, depth-based segmentation, perspective change and 3D images, but also complete access to the depth planes of the recorded image.

“Photos don’t have to end up in the digital recycling bin because of focusing errors - a common problem, for example, in macro photography.

“Image series, as in product photography, can be shot quicker and image objects can be segmented faster,” said Klaus Illgner, CTO, who is responsible for technical development at K-Lens.

New effects, like focus and blur within the same image plane, can also be realised with the K-Lens. The start-up company will also supply the software for achieving these post-processing effects.

The product is expected to have a length of 20cm and a maximum weight of 800g, similar to standard hand-held zoom lenses.

Its core component is the so-called ‘Image Multiplier’, a system of mirrors that, like a kaleidoscope, produces different perspectives of the same scene, which are then simultaneously projected onto the camera sensor. Software developed by K-Lens then generates the light field image.

K-Lens is also taking part in a research project developing a commercial light field camera for the professional film industry.

“In the long term, we would be interested in strategic cooperation with a market leader like Sony, Nikon, or Canon, to learn from their production know-how and their international sales and service models,” Schmitz said. The founders want to present a prototype of the first purely photographically designed K-Lens still this year.

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