Not so with the Frankencamera, says Levoy. For the prototype, he and his colleagues developed a program that instructs the camera to take two rapid shots if a frame has both dark and light parts. One shot exposes correctly for the dark; one shot exposes correctly for the light. The program then merges the two images into one, taking the best parts from each.
And what if a camera could do the same thing for focus — take three shots, focusing on different things in each frame, and merge them into one crystal-clear shot?
According to Levoy, these are just a couple of examples of how programmers could change the future of photography with the Frankencamera. The key is that the camera uses a Linux operating system. All digital cameras are essentially minicomputers, says Levoy, and they can be modified a bit by the photographer. But the manufacturer determines what features are available. Linux is “open source,” which means the camera owner can change everything about the electronic guts.
Just what the world needs: a DIY camera that can use Linux to do bad HDR composites in hardware.
The only thing it’s missing is a hokey steampunk casemod, but I’m sure that’ll be available for the 2.0 version.
Where do I sign up?