100 Years Light-Field

March 1908 - March 2008

The idea of capturing light-field data to create 3D photographs was first proposed by Lippmann at the March 2, 1908 session of the French Academy of Sciences. The original term he used was "Photographies Integrales" ("Integral Photographs"). Today, based on Computational Photography, his discovery is becoming more important than ever!

It all started with a bright idea: In 1902 Frederick Ives patented his parallax stereogram camera. But the most significant contribution to the lightfield approach was made a few years later by Gabriel Lippmann, professor of experimental physics at the Sorbonne.

Three facts about Lippmann:

(1) He is Nobel Prize laureate for Color Photography.

(2) Lippmann was the thesis advisor of Marie Curie. She worked in his lab. It is possible that her interests in radiation and radioactivity influenced Lippmann's work on radiance. Or was it the other way round? Marie Curie received two Nobel Prizes for her work.

(3) Lippmann proposed the first method of Light-Field capture called "Integral Photographs":

Integral Photographs, 1908

Lippmann's original presentation (March 2, 1908):

Epreuves Reversibles. Photographies Integrales. English translation thanks to Fredo Durand:

Reversible Prints. Integral Photographs. Below is my proof of Lippmann's statement (just after Figure 1 in the paper) that "the ratio of the front and back radii must be n-1".

A later paper by Lippmann (Nov. 1908): "Epreuves Reversibles Donnant la Sensation du Relief". English translation thanks to Shmuel Peleg, Nicolas Merlet, and Sylvain Paris:

"Reversible Prints Providing the Sensation of Depth"

Sokolov: Autostereoscopy and Integral Photography by Professor Lippmann's Method. Thanks to Ekaterina Avramova and Daniel Reetz.

H. Ives' light fields, 1930a, 1930b, 1931

Coffey 1935 first understood the need for matching F/numbers of main lens and microlenses. Later rediscovered by Ren Ng.

Dudnikov's light fields, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1977, 1978, 1979.


For the missing detail see the pdf of my Adobe presentation: 100 Years Light-Field