KaleidoCam: the ultimate DSLR upgrade gadget

Highlight of this year's SIGGRAPH was the KaleidoCam, which introduces an entirely new idea to the world of photography. It's an add-on that goes between the lens and the camera, and it upgrades the camera's capabilities in ways never thought possible. Suddenly you have true single-shot multi-exposure HDR capture, multi-spectral imaging, variable polarization, you can even capture a light field with a pixel resolution that far exceeds what you can get out of a Lytro camera - and all that with your own DSLR and lenses!

The working principle is ingenious in its simplicity: The gadget contains a diffuse screen, that intercepts the light rays coming from the lens at the very same spot where the sensor would be. So instead of a sensor, there is now a rear-projection screen. A kaleidoscopic mirror arrangement then sends multiple copies of the image to the sensor (9 images in total, arranged in a 3x3 grid). The trick is now to insert different filters into the optical path of each of these images. For HDR, you would have varying ND filters - and voila, each snap of the shutter gives you 9 different exposures. Awesome!

I really hope to see this come to market soon, if the research group would go on Kickstarter they would already have my money! Read the detailed technical paper here, and make sure to scroll down and check out the data sets (original images captured with the prototype).

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