This camera is able to keep its sharpness at 2 kilometers away

This camera is able to keep its sharpness at 2 kilometers away

Researchers have just developed an overpowered camera, capable of having a clear image over 2 kilometres.

When one is interested in the world of photography, one quickly learns the notions of sharpness and blur. Whether our eyes see very well when an image is out of focus or not, few people really know how the camera captures an image in this way. In reality, in a classic photo the blur can be more or less present, it all depends on the aperture of the camera (and other factors that have a minor impact here).

The larger the latter, the shorter the “depth of field” of your device will be. Understand here that with a large aperture (therefore a small focal length), it is possible to have a sharp image in the foreground, and a blur on the external elements, which will make it possible to detach the subject from the article. This is the bokeh effect, a very well-known and widely used optical effect in photography.

If, on the contrary, you use a very small aperture of your camera (with a high focal length), the same photo will offer a much sharper image on the background.

Have the longest possible field length

Faced with this simple rule known to all photographers, scientists wondered how to get around it. A team from National Institute of Standards and Technology thus addressed the issue. But rather than build a conventional camera, they developed a megastructure capable of capturing items hundreds or even thousands of meters from the lens.

The researchers managed to focus on objects located a few centimeters from the objective and on others, 1.7 kilometers away. A real feat that (largely) exceeds the previous record. All this with a functioning offered by nature, and which already existed on Earth millions of years ago?

A solution present on Earth at the time of the dinosaurs

The researchers were inspired by trilobites, prehistoric anthropoids that had particularly developed eyes. Indeed, this species, which disappeared more than 250 million years ago, was capable of having two focal lengths in its eye. In other words, the trilobites could see their prey in front of their eyes as well as their predators, hundreds of meters away.

In the article that reproduces their results, the researchers explain that they succeeded in splitting the device so that it takes two photos, like the eyes of trilobites. Their megastructure is thus capable of recording the power of light rays (like all devices), but also their direction, and thus sorting out what comes from afar, and what is right in front of the device.

A sharp image all the way

Thanks to this sorting capacity, the device is able to take stock at 20 centimeters and 2 kilometers away. But the researchers did not stop there and developed a neural network capable of correcting the aberrations made for objects located between these two points. End result: a sharp image along its entire length.

Such a camera could interest many people in the coming years and the process could be used in military devices, but also in the world of research where optical microscopes could benefit from this innovation.

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