Single Lens Stereo with a Plenoptic Camera

Edward H. Adelson and John Y. A. Wang

Published in
IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 99-106 (1992).
Ordinary cameras gather light across the area of their lens aperture, and the light striking a given subregion of the aperture is structured somewhat differently than the light striking an adjacent subregion. By analyzing this optical structure, one can infer the depths of objects in the scene, i.e., one can achieve "single lens stereo." We describe a novel camera for performing this analysis. It incorporates a single main lens along with a lenticular array placed at the sensor plane. The resulting "plenoptic camera" provides information about how the scene would look when viewed from a continuum of possible viewpoints bounded by the main lens aperture. Deriving depth information is simpler than in a binocular stereo system because the correspondence problem is minimized. The camera extracts information about both horizontal and vertical parallax, which improves the reliability of the depth estimates.