Frankencamera aims to make cameras open and programmable

Frankencamera, or fCam, the open source computational photography platform from Stanford's Camera 2.0 project was unleashed for the Nokia N900 this Wednesday. PhysOrg has a story outlining the significance of this:

Computational photography refers to the ways computers can extend the capabilities of digital imaging by combining multiple photographs taken with different camera settings to create an image that could not be taken in a single shot, or with an ordinary camera.

Some of these new ways of combining images can be done in Photoshop or another such program, but until now they could not be done inside the camera, Levoy said. That's because commercial cameras are closed to development by all but their manufacturers. Frankencamera, on the other hand, brings computational photography directly to the camera, by making the camera a programmable platform.

I installed fCamera and the HDR photo assistant from Maemo extras-devel yesterday, and the results (taking .DNG RAW images, automatically generating HDR pictures) seem quite impressive. Here is a quick example from our office. Sun is shining outside and the office is not lit:

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For comparison, here is the same setting with the regular N900 camera application:

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It will be interesting to see what developers will come up with, now that all these camera capabilities are available through an open API!