Adobe has figured out a way to give you control over depth in a photograph without having to do a lot of tedious selection tricks. Starting with this 3D lens that looks a bit like an insect's compound eye, it can shoot 19 images from slightly different angles. Once you get all those various images into a PC, Adobe's software magic goes to work, determining where objects are located in the scene and then allowing you to address those objects according to their depth. Take the jump to see a video demo by Dave Story, Adobe's Vice President of Interactive Design.
OK, this is wonderful and all that.
However, it irritates me when the hype takes over. The presenter says "This is something you cannot do with a physical camera. There's no way to take a picture with just this section in focus and everything else out of focus. It's not physically possible to make a camera that does that."
Bullshit. View cameras make it possible to define a plane of focus that is not parallel to the film plane. Various limited soft focus techniques exist with filters on camera, retouching of negatives afterwards, or darkroom manipulation that make this sort of thing routine. Want another approach? Google for Lensbabies; they do *exactly* what he's describing. (In fact, the selective focus demo he gives struck me as nothing more than Lensbabies implemented in software.)
What he appeared to mean was that it's very difficult to achieve this sort of thing unless you've previsualized what you want to do. That's a very different thing. Let's be clear about this. This is not an improvement over classic photo technique. This is a way to grab a shot and fix it in the mix, afterwards, even if you had no idea what you were doing when you grabbed the shot.
That's not an illegitimate achievement. In fact, I can envision lots of things I'd love to do with tools like this. Tools like this could save money and enhance your reputation when, as per the example in the vid, your picture buyer can't make up their mind ahead of time about what sort of effect they want to see. However, it's a ridiculous overstatement to say such effects were previously impossible.