The plenoptic camera has been proposed as an alternative wavefront sensor adequate for extended objects within the
context of the design of the European Solar Telescope (EST), but it can also be used with point sources. Originated in the
field of the Electronic Photography, the plenoptic camera directly samples the Light Field function, which is the four -
dimensional representation of all the light entering a camera. Image formation can then be seen as the result of the
photography operator applied to this function, and many other features of the light field can be exploited to extract
information of the scene, like depths computation to extract 3D imaging or, as it will be specifically addressed in this
paper, wavefront sensing.
The underlying concept of the plenoptic camera can be adapted to the case of a telescope by using a lenslet array of the
same f-number placed at the focal plane, thus obtaining at the detector a set of pupil images corresponding to every
sampled point of view. This approach will generate a generalization of Shack-Hartmann, Curvature and Pyramid
wavefront sensors in the sense that all those could be considered particular cases of the plenoptic wavefront sensor,
because the information needed as the starting point for those sensors can be derived from the plenoptic image.
Laboratory results obtained with extended objects, phase plates and commercial interferometers, and even telescope
observations using stars and the Moon as an extended object are presented in the paper, clearly showing the capability of
the plenoptic camera to behave as a wavefront sensor.