The LYTRO Camera, 11 megarays of fun – What are your thoughts?

The LYTRO Camera, 11 megarays of fun – What are YOUR thoughts?

So this little Lytro camera is now available to pre-order on Lytro.com. This square tube like device made big news a few months back mainly for its ability to take a picture and give you the ability to focus your shot AFTER you take it. It was getting all kinds of press..big press. It was hailed as the next big thing and the future of photography, and it very well may be… one day. This little device can be taken with you everywhere. Aim and shoot. No shutter, no lag, no AF to wait for. Just aim it like a gun and fire away. Sounds like the perfect snapshot camera doesn’t it?

After you shoot and when you get home to check out your images you download what you shot to your mac (not available for windows at this time) and using the software provided you can change your focus point and even create shallow depth of field. It’s a crazy concept but one that has been around for a long time. It’s just that now it is available in your pocket.

The cameras are not cheap so to those who were complaining that the Nikon V1 was expensive at $850 better steer clear, lol. The little Lytro 8GB (hold 350 images) will run you $399 plus shipping. So $409 for a little cylinder that will give you square format low res images. If it was not for its ability to refocus your shot, this thing would be dead in the water. The main draw is this feature but is it something that is merely a gimmick? I think it kind of is, FOR NOW. BUT one day down the road if this technology makes it in to a more serious camera then maybe we will have something.

I am toying with the idea of ordering one in Electric Blue so I can review it. Lytro says it is shipping in April-May of 2012 so it will be a while it seems. From what I have seen so far, and the sample images it is sort of like a high tech toy but at the same time it is pretty hip and cool. A real camera? Naaa, but something for the select crowd who are obsessed with cool factor. I can see this thing being a huge hit at the Apple store.

When searching for details  all I can see is that it has 11 megarays of “light field resolution”, internal storage, and 8X optical zoom and a constant f/2 lens. All they say is that it produces “HD Living Pictures”.  When I browse their samples I see low res square images that you can refocus anywhere in the frame. Nothing blowing me away and it makes me as why I would pay $400 for this when I can slip a real camera in my pocket when I go out. When I take a shot with a real camera I CHOOSE the focus at the moment of the capture. Do I really need a device that lets me change that? One that gives me low res images? No, I do not but I admit it is pretty cool.

After thinking more about it just sitting here at my desk I do not think I will be ordering a Lytro as it is just not something I can see myself seriously using. Like I said though, this will be a hit with the hip crowd, the tech crowd who will soon get bored with it and yes, even the social networking crowd. I can see it now…It will be great for all of those teen girls taking 10 self portraits a day for their Facebook profile. They can focus on their face OR their cleavage, how convenient. 🙂

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25 Comments

  1. Not nearly as sharp images as I’d expect, and there only a finite number of focusing distances, not an infinite number, which makes the idea less pleasing – examples published have not had very high resolution, byt the way! As a technology for surveillance cameras it could be a killer, and frankly, it looks like one!

  2. What it has is speed.The normal bone of contention with any digital camera is it’s focussing speed.A portrait for example is a fleeting moment,with this camera that moment can be captured and fine focus on,for example,the eyes, can be achieved later.For photos of the kids I think it’s great.

  3. The idea of post-shot focusing is not that interesting. Why would you need? For correcting badly focused images perhaps? It does not seem to add anything to the image and most images just don’t have alternative points of focus. You actually have to plan an image with the clearly separated foreground and background to be entertained by changing focus. However there are some interesting videos in Youtube about the future capabilities of the technology: changing focal length post-shot, perspective effects, 3D etc.

  4. Hi Steve. I think LYTRO is a pioneer at this project. Just remember how digital camera started at low resolution. This is a brilliant feature. I wonder when will Canon or Nikon gonna buy this LYTRO technology and combined it into their camera. Maybe a smaller size can be achieved instead that tubing kind of shape.

    Well, sometimes taking the right focus is not that easy in certain conditions, and this is might be the feature that is very useful. But same as you I dont wanna (or actually cant) spend the money on a pioneer product. Prefer to wait the later generation or just wait till the big camera producers implanted this kind of tech into theirs.

  5. I’m late to replying on this, but finally found some down time to do it… You described it perfectly Steve, and I had a conversation with my family about it a few weeks ago. Right now, it’s an expensive toy. If it were 1/2 the price I might consider buying one to play with, but at its current price-point, it just doesn’t seem worth it. HD photos? That’s like 1-2 megapixels, which isn’t going to be useful to anyone but the Facebook crowd in reality. Fun maybe, but $400 worth of fun? I’m no so sure…

    However, the technology is fascinating, and I’ll be watching closely as it matures (if it does…)

  6. I think the first Lytro is only the beginning. People are going to hack the files and get FULLY focused images. Kind of like applying HDR to the pictures but in a focus kind of way. The format is square, and that will add to the growing square fad that I see coming. (Have you all played with your Instagram yet? The size is nice. The fact that it is instant focusing will also have a lot of people talking. A camera like this represents the future. We should not only embrace it but also enjoy it. Who is to say high end cameras wont license this tech in the future? Maybe a D3s with a Lytro Lens is not too far off? Then, just like we have vibration reduction we will have Lytro compatible lenses. Throw a switch and forget about focusing your DSL ever again. – Unless you want to!

  7. I see an application in security cameras, where the camera is stationary but you don’t know where or when the action will happen. Or maybe critter-cams where your camera operator is not concerned about focus. And I wonder what could be done with LYTRO on a GigaPan…

  8. Here is the interesting dissertation by Lytros founder: http://www.lytro.com/renng-thesis.pdf
    It also contains general stuff about photography which is quite interesting and easy to read.

    The theory behind the camera is not new and the therm “Light field” originates from research made by russian Alexander Gershun in 1936.

  9. This is a stupid idea. Point and shoot cameras and cell phone images have more depth of field than you can shake a stick at, and it’s fairly easy to add blur to an image in post. I see this being a short-lived idea, since that’s all it’s really doing, taking a point and shoot photo and allowing you to add blur later on.
    Plus, there’s no such thing as a mega-ray, I think I’ll give my money to companies that don’t use made-up technical terms in an attempt to wow me.

  10. Well, I will be toying with one. A friend has one on pre-order and I know one of the investors, who promised I can play witha prototype when I am in US in January (if he is in the country then) … But honestly, I know te technology pretty well and, just like the v1 you mention, it has it’s use and it is not for photographers! Not until some major technological innovation.
    But it has more appeal than just hip people. I mean most people and kids just want to snapshot and share. They could not care less about focus points and to them it is just a problem.
    Parents are the same, click and you kids are surely in focus. And with some nice blur.

  11. 2D resolution is 1080x 1080 pixels, so for now it is a gimmick. The files are BIG and can only be viewed on a computer to use the “living picture” feature. For now a toy.

  12. I do not know how this camera exactly handles action shots like sports pictures. Does the camera take a picture of a subject in rapid motion or will picture be significantly blurred due to object motion?

    Also, I don’t like how everything has to be done within the Lytro ecosystem. All image editing and conversion has to be done within their proprietary software system.

  13. Hi Steve

    Wasn’t that interested in the after-the-fact focusing capability, but thought it is a very interesting form factor. Wonder how the cylindrical shape would change the way we take pictures….

  14. I think it could take off but right now it will just be a niche product until the price/resolution changes. Display technology is starting to finally increase resolution in a meaningful way so even if you are taking images that will never be printed I think most users won’t be 100% satisfied with the resolution this camera turns out.

    That said I’d be somewhat interested in a hacked version that kept the form factor and gave me plain jane point-and-shoot with 11mpx and an 8X f2.0 lens. The lens sounds really cool for a pocketable camera in this price range. The rest no so much (yet).

  15. I thought (and think) they are interesting and may have a better use somewhere other than casual photography. I was on a couple web sites that featured a lot of sample photos, and like Julio said, at this point it becomes a novelty. I grew tired of viewing pictures just for the sake of waiting for it to load the background software so that you can slide the slider just to see three different focal planes. It was weird, it seemed as though the samples were all set up for the sake of having three focal planes. And it seems that’s all you get — three, foreground, mid and background. After looking at 50 plus photos, it is tiresome. I like looking at photos that someone put thought into and are displaying what they found interesting. How would you print a photo like that? Just pick a focal plane and use it?? My two cents.

  16. While a neat idea and perhaps something that could be developed further (better resolution), it still seems like an expensive novelty. I’d rather put the $400 towards (or for) a new lens.

    • .
      I shot with Sony’s alpha? ..beta? version ‘Mavica’ (..taking six technicians and Mr Morita to ensure it worked..) about 15 years before it made it to the shops. Development time’s a bit shorter now, so this may develop in three years.

      But remember the ‘Nimslo’? ..All gone in a puff of scandal, fraud and bankruptcy.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nimslo

      Then again, a chap called Gordon(?) Rose gave a demo at London’s National Film Theatre in, er, 1980(? ..I was there, but I don’t remember the date) of a new ‘post-focus’ system for cinematography. It was never heard of again, and sank without trace.

  17. Order one Steve! I would like to see some of your pictures with it and see what you think. Well, I hope it does not affect your economy 🙂

  18. Funny that you post this today. Just this AM I canceled an order for one. I decided that it was a toy that I could live without. If I understand it correctly I can’t do the following:

    1)take shot
    2)determine where I want focus to be
    3)post that picture somewhere as something that can’t be changed by the viewer

    For me, I want control of how my photos are viewed. Why do I want someone to change the focus point of my shot?

    It might be a really cool product some day but I’ve decided to wait and see how useful they make it or if they keep it as a gee whiz novelty.

    • I agree, I wanted to be able to take a picture without taking care of the focus, doing it later. In fact that was one of the promisses of the system, being able to focus later. Sadly, you cannot save the after focused image as a simple image. You even need internet to view them. If they do not come up with a new, more “normal” product, the company will fail. We are not used to this and I bet few people will buy this camera. I would buy it only just for the novelty, but it would be boring after a while.

      • I am pretty sure you can use the software to export a standard jpg focused how you like. There is a video on it by Robert Scoble from the launch party they had and it explains some of this stuff. I would recommend watching it. I think standard photos can at least be exported in hd size whatever that means… I haven’t decided about getting this yet. I am waiting for some real world reviews. I hope Steve is able to do a review as I always love the reviews here. The way I figure it is it is about the same price as a mid-priced lens so it might be worth buying.

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