First Impressions Of 52MP Light L16 Pocket Camera

Last year we waited eagerly in anticipation for any news of Light, a futuristic photography startup that has so far raised more than US $30 million for the development of their first model: the L16.

While initially not much was known about the project, the veil has gradually been lifted, revealing that the camera should be ready around September of this year and that it will cost $1,699 USD upon release.


While we try our best to get our grubby mitts on one, Mashable got a head start at CES and tested it out.

To do a brief recap of how the camera works, it is basically composed of 16 seperate camera modules. Five are 35mm, another five are 70mm, and six are 120mm; all of them are 13MP.

Each time you fire the shutter, 10 photos are shot at once. The camera then stitches them together to make a 52MP image.

The question on our minds (as well as I’m sure, many of yours), is whether or not the L16 actually works well.

Mashable got to play with an early prototype, and they mentioned it was far from the final product as it still had some exposed circuitry and only a tiny cooling fan.

Still, considering the launch date isn’t that far away, it’s worrying how slow the L16 is.

They reported that the photo stitching wasn’t working very well and even froze. At the end of the day, the Mashable reporter didn’t even get to see how fast it would eventually take.

Light’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Rajiv Laroia was then quoted as saying that Light are hopefully aiming for a processing time of under a minute.

Light are hopefully aiming for a processing time of under a minute.

While of course we wish the best for such an ambitious camera, this is a little worrying. And even if their engineers manage to get the processing time under 60 seconds, is 50 or even 30 seconds much better?

At that speed (and at Light’s relatively bulky size), a compact premium camera might be more useful.

Dr. Laroia did mention that the L16 will be able to generate lower resolution images for immediate sharing to social media. But in a way, that pretty much defeats the purpose of the otherwise impressive power of the machine.

Like Mashable, we are loathe to come to any quick conclusions without having tested the actual machine. They saw sample images compared to a Canon 5D Mark III and said the resolution was comparable, but the L16 was noticeably noisier.

Let’s hope that by release date they iron out all these kinks and make the L16 truly usable. Because from what Light themselves are saying about their presales, demand is sky high. They expect to sell out of all their units within a few days, and it seems absolutely imperative for the company to hit the ground running, lest they end up like Lytro.