Mild L16 camera overview: futuristic frustration
Mild L16 camera overview: futuristic frustration

The Light L16 digicam is an engineering surprise. It takes SIXTEEN different smartphone-sized imaging modules, each and every moderately aligned behind a piece of glass, and uses them in live performance with one another to create photographs which can be larger and better-taking a look than the effects the individual cameras are capable of. It does all this in a form issue that ’s or 3 times thicker than, however now not somewhat as huge as, an iPad mini, one thing that really suits in a couple of pockets and is easy sufficient to stow in a bag. That ’s Mild ’s promoting point for this $2,000 digicam: the L16 is ostensibly a full bag of camera gear in one frame.

At an excessively top degree, this is the enjoy of using the L16. With a scrub of your thumb across the 5-inch touchscreen, you’ll briefly zoom from a 28mm extensive-perspective standpoint to a 150mm telephoto view or any place in among.

Differently, the L16 is generally a hassle. The photos it takes are in an odd-quality limbo between cellphone pictures and something that was shot with a mirrorless or DSLR camera. The digital camera handles slower, contemplative pictures just high quality, but it had hassle keeping up whilst I photographed extra hard scenes. The computer enhancing tool — that’s necessary to procedure the full-resolution photographs and essential when you wish to get any of the L16 ’s pictures onto an iPhone — in all fairness robust, but it ’s sluggish. For the sort of outstanding camera, I repeatedly felt uninspired to make use of it. And, more frequently than now not, it stayed right within the bag or coat pocket that it so easily are compatible.


should you ’re having bother greedy how the L16 ’s dizzying digicam array works, bring to mind it this manner: you already know how dual-lens telephones just like the iPhone or Word let you zoom from wide attitude to telephoto within the camera app? this is that, stretched to the intense. The SIXTEEN-camera modules every have their very own symbol sensor and lens, and so they duvet other focal lengths. There are 5 28mm extensive-angle modules, 5 midrange 70mm, and six 150mm telephoto ones.

the massive difference between this digital camera and those phones is that the L16 simulates the entire focal lengths in between 28mm, 70mm, and 150mm by combining information from more than one digital camera modules. So in place of digitally zooming in at the 28mm symbol to make it seem like it was shot at 40mm, it ’s replicating that focal duration by means of stitching photographs in combination on the fly. this is additionally why the quality of the L16 ’s pictures can be a notch higher than that of a single cellphone camera. The L16 ’s results are slightly greater than the sum of its bodily portions, all thanks to a few in point of fact artful instrument.

It ’s a small miracle that the L16 works as marketed in the first place

Taking Into Account all the device and hardware paintings that makes this imaginable, this all occurs remarkably fast, inside of a second of taking a picture. The digital camera quickly coughs up the results, too, though that ’s because at first, it presentations a decrease-solution preview of the image you take. On playback, you’ll tap a button to collect the next-quality THIRTEEN-megapixel composition with higher dynamic range and detail. However to get the entire-answer FIFTY TWO-megapixel symbol that the L16 can capture, the pictures have to be processed through the corporate ’s desktop modifying instrument.

Grid View

I Discovered that THIRTEEN-megapixel photo was usually good enough, although. In just right light and at huge focal lengths, the L16 captures footage that can idiot you into pondering they have been shot with a bigger sensor. But so can smartphones, and most sensible-tier smartphones are extra consistent than the L16, which has a tendency to oversaturate its images or throw a colour forged on the image in scenes with a couple of lighting fixtures resources.

The L16 ’s efficiency drops off in low gentle. In concept, combining data from more than one images can assist it fight image noise and switch out footage which can be rich and vivid. Most of the time, although, I wound up with blurry, grimy-having a look pictures.

High Quality is particularly a struggle whilst the L16 is zoomed the entire method in. Those 150mm modules have f/2.4 apertures, so that they let in less mild than the broader cameras (which can be f/2.0). Worse, it ’s hard to keep the image stable at this sort of long zoom range, and there ’s no image stabilization. The L16 would possibly save all the space that a zoom lens takes up, but smaller isn ’t all the time higher at long focal lengths.


Velocity is some other drawback. To be truthful, I didn ’t notice many delays while I shot slowly, which shocked me considering the entire computational paintings the digicam is doing with every shutter click. With this in thoughts, I Discovered it particularly useful for side road pictures. How ceaselessly are you able to zoom to 150mm without pointing a protracted lens at somebody?

but if i tried to rattle off a burst of shots, things ground to a halt. The refresh price of the reveal, that’s forgivable while you ’re taking one or two pictures, makes shooting a couple of photographs a headache. I ’m a professed over-shooter, but it surely has a vital pace limit.

The L16 is good for boulevard pictures, however there ’s a pace restrict

I also found the camera ’s autofocus to be sluggish and often unreliable, particularly in low mild. and because all this is managed throughout the touchscreen, it used to be exhausting to make sure I had it fascinated by exactly the proper spot. There ’s just way more room for error here than you ’d to find on a conventional digicam.

Those delays and quibbles brought up temporarily whilst i attempted to push the digicam. Whilst it served me well on sluggish walks via my neighborhood, it used to be a long way too sluggish to handle a chaotic scene like a dog park.

If the L16 really is meant to supplement or replace my DSLR or mirrorless camera and a bag of lenses, it can ’t simply save me space. It has to provide — or a minimum of approach — similar versatility as the ones cameras. that suggests there are occasions that I ’m going to want it to be fast. Another Way, that business-off may not always be worth it.

a part of my frustration with L16 ’s responsiveness came from the touchscreen-only interface. The UI is fluid and fairly simple to understand, but while i really like having a few touchscreen choices on cameras, I hate having to do the whole lot thru them, especially in moments when I ’m looking to temporarily change settings so i will capture a fleeting moment. the shortage of knobs or a viewfinder or any physical controls (store for the shutter button) is all intended to maintain the L16 slender. Light entire that project, however it comes at a price.


Issues don ’t get any more uncomplicated whilst it comes time to edit the L16 ’s pictures. I struggled with the company ’s laptop modifying app — which, I should word, is still in beta — even on a formidable MacBook Pro.

Light built a sort of pseudo-Lightroom enjoy, with a filmstrip layout of your whole pictures and some basic modifying tools like publicity, distinction, and sharpness. There also are creative equipment, like simulated bokeh / depth adjustments, that’s paying homage to the unique pitch for Lytro ’s cameras. Those intensity results paintings ok as long because the digital camera if truth be told enthusiastic about your meant point of interest, however I Found that isn ’t at all times the case. If the camera actually desirous about a person ’s ear, in place of their eyes, you ’re probably not going to be able to mend that within the enhancing tool, and the bokeh effects will most effective make it extra evident that you just overlooked your center of attention.

Overall, the enhancing tool, particularly those more creative gear, is slow. It ’s not as dangerous as Lytro ’s computer modifying instrument used to be when it ruined my experience with the Illum a few years in the past. Light has installed so much of effort within the early months of this camera ’s lifestyles to make the entire software (on the computer and on the camera) sooner, lighter, and more uncomplicated to grasp. That ’s a welcome gesture for a digital camera that isn ’t going to sell greater than a few thousand gadgets.

focals.jpg Images shot with the L16 at 28mm, 104mm, and 150mm — all from the same spot on the sidewalk.

but it ’s not enough. Zooming in on a photo, as an example, reasons the device to need to reassemble the image on the fly, resulting in load instances among every click of the magnifying glass. Easy edits, like adjusting the publicity, can occasionally take a part-second or extra to render. Brought up, little delays like these stretch modifying periods that are meant to take half-hour into hours.

you can skirt the personal computer editor in case you have an Android phone because the L16 is able to Bluetooth record transfers. (The digicam in truth runs Android. The “camera” interface is solely an app that Mild constructed.) But even then, you’ll be able to simplest switch the 13-megapixel JPGs, not the raw DNG recordsdata. and because there ’s no accompanying mobile app, and iPhones don ’t allow regular Bluetooth report transfers, there ’s no quick or simple way to get the L16 ’s images onto your Apple tool.

There ’s no quick or simple method to get the L16 ’s photographs onto your Apple software

Instead, iPhone customers have to attach the digital camera to a computer, obtain the pictures in the course of the computer tool (a process that may take about a part-hour for around 300 images on its personal), export them (which is additionally a combat), and transfer them to the phone from there. It ’s a frustratingly old downside for the sort of futuristic camera. And while you imagine how excellent the cameras have gotten on smartphones just like the iPhone X, Google Pixel 2, or even now the Huawei P20, as well as the undeniable fact that you’ll shoot and edit UNCOOKED pictures on these phones, it makes you marvel why somebody would drop $2,000 at the L16.


I ’m no longer that proud of the L16 as a camera. But for Mild, the true value of the L16 isn’t as a standalone product. Slightly, it ’s an indication of positive applied sciences and ideas, all of which could make so much extra sense in smartphones.

Space is at a top class in smartphones, but the calls for for high quality and flexibility while it involves phone photography have skyrocketed in contemporary years. Even scaled all the way down to just a couple of cameras, Mild ’s generation may just nonetheless bring massive optical zoom, larger solution, and perhaps higher high quality to the backs (or fronts) of our smartphones.

the issue is that in the time it took Mild to get to market — I noticed the primary prototype in October 2015 — the largest smartphone makers within the international began enforcing similar ideas. Apple, Samsung, and now Huawei use more than one digital camera modules on the backs of their telephones, giving shoppers further versatility by means of providing a zoom lens. they can also combine results of those a couple of cameras into a final image that is better than what you will have captured on its own.

Smartphone cameras do a lot more of what the L16 guarantees than whilst the primary prototype arrived

Mild informed me as lately as overdue final year that it used to be working with a cellphone manufacturer to incorporate its era. it seems like the proper are compatible for Light ’s era, but it ’s uncertain what a part of the market the corporate was talking about. Perhaps Gentle will give midtier smartphones a chance to compete with the iPhones and Samsungs of the arena. It also can have neglected the boat.

Regardless Of its flaws, I nonetheless can ’t really wrap my thoughts around the simple, stunning undeniable fact that the digital camera, with all its transferring portions and software jujitsu, worked any time I clicked the shutter.

I by no means got over the sensation that the L16 is a better demonstration of an idea than it is as a product. Even then, the L16 ’s middling effects aren ’t exactly promising. after all, a few other people did buy this factor. Mild solved lots of issues to make this digicam paintings, and maybe now it will probably observe a few of that wisdom to a smaller shape issue like a telephone. Until then, as replacements opt for larger, bulkier cameras, my existing telephone will do exactly fine.

5 Verge Rating

Light L16

Great Things

Fascinating technology Good for side road photography Slender design

Unhealthy Stuff

Inconsistent image quality Efficiency is simply too sluggish for anything else but sluggish photography Computer instrument is a chore Buy for $1,950.00 from Gentle

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