CES 2012: Lytro Photowalk

Dpreview had a chance to have a closer look at the Lytro light field camera during an event an the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. The Lytro camera is getting close to production stage and the first cameras are to ship next month. Initially the camera will only be available on lytro.com but the team is in talks with various retailers to expand their sales channels. Retail price for the blue and grey versions which come with 8GB internal memory will be $399. The red 16GB model is $499.

The technology is based on capturing information not just about the colour and brightness of the light entering the camera, but also the direction it has arrived from. This information can then be re-interpreted as if the camera had been focused at different depths into the scene, giving an image that the viewer can re-focus and 'explore.'

According to Jason Bradley, professional photographer and one of the system's beta testers, this first incarnation of the light field camera is all about 'having fun with a new toy'. Eric Cheng, Lytro's Director of Photography adds that the camera is targeted at gadget lovers and early adopters but also at photographers who simply appreciate the possibility of taking a quick snapshot without having to worry too much about your focus points.

Eric Cheng, Lytro's Director of Photography, explains the advantages of the new system to members of the press. The camera's shape is very different to conventional cameras, with a very minimalist approach. On the top of the camera the only two controls are the shutter button and an (almost invisible) zoom panel.

Eric says the camera's user interface is at this stage not quite final yet but pretty close. Image quality is also still being optimized before the first units become available. In use the interface is very minimal, with only a shutter button and a zoom slider on top of the camera. A couple of other functions and the image review can be controlled via the responsive touch-screen. It's definitely an interesting exercise to try to throw some image elements out of focus and then 'refocus' them in review mode. That said, the screen on the camera is a little too small and low resolution to fully appreciate the effect. On the computer screen the process becomes more fun.

The model we've been using today has an experimental 'Advanced Light Field Mode' that wasn't in the previous examples we've seen. Cheng makes clear that its behavior isn't 'final' and it may not appear in this form in the cameras that customers recieve. We hope it does, as it's an interesting addition to the camera's capabilities.

In standard mode, the camera's lens is set to the equivalent of the hyperfocal distance in conventional photography (the closest point of focus that renders objects at infinity as acceptably sharp). For instance, at wideangle, it captures a depth of field of approximately 4 inches to infinity, and the final image allows re-focusing at all points in between. The Advanced Light Field mode, (as it currently exists) prompts the camera to phyically refocus its lens closer than this, centering the depth of field in your shot around your specified focus point. When this image is refocused on the camera screen or on your computer, the focus can be shifted around that specified point, but not out to infinity. For example if you focus on a subject's eyes, you will, depending on the focal length, be able to shift the focus between their ears and nose.

Our first impressions are that the Light Field Camera is an interesting device, probably not for people committed to conventional photography, but both fun and creative (Lytro has been saying for a while that it is initially focusing on mainstream consumers). However, the Advanced Light Field mode does start to hint at the direction the company might take. As an optional mode, we think photographers will appreciate the additional creative control it offers.

The screen on the back is used for composition. You tap on it to set your focus point and exposure. In review mode you can refocus the image and zoom in, again by tapping or double tap respectively. The camera feels solid and is nicely made with an aluminum housing and a rubber grip.

Click here to read our interview with founder and CEO Ren Ng, in which he explains the camera's technology

Comments

Total comments: 140
12
migus
By migus (Jan 23, 2012)

Their science is sound, albeit computationally expensive in FLOPS and Watts. It has research and industrial applications (e.g., raytrix.de). However, i have two main objections:

1) Unclear value in the consumer space: What's the *problem* --or need-- addressed by Lytro? Is this better or less expensive than
1a) a fixed UWA lens w/ a small sensor (practically infinite DOF), or
1b) shooting ultrahigh frame rate video (Casio and others) w/ refocus and/or focal plane shift?

2) Closed system: Why the Steve Jobs approach of locked h/w and s/w from a research outfit? Or is this the Stanford business acumen?
No USB, HDMI, TB etc. ports, no external cards, no local s/w (Cloud up/download of big data doesn't scale well for 1M Lytro shooters), no user (consumer?) interaction... No freedom, no ecosystem.

Net: Solid R&D with promising research and industrial apps. Solution in search of a problem in the consumer space (Lytro), mostly an acquisition lure. Deplorably Apple-like closed Lytro.

0 upvotes
Photorer
By Photorer (Jan 23, 2012)

Is it possible to print out an image taken with one of these? If that is the case, then this will have plenty of adopters in the happy snap fraternity - all the images they take will then be in sharp clear focus - what a bonus!

0 upvotes
dubstylz
By dubstylz (Jan 21, 2012)

Blimey, chill out folks, its only a new product in a vast market place, its not going to change the world, its not going to 'kill' off DSLR's. Some will love it, some will hate it, deal with it.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Cerrito Kid
By Cerrito Kid (Jan 20, 2012)

Toy? What you mean by "toy"? To ay one who isn't a professional photographer, all cameras are "toys." I am film based amateur who has never felt comfortable with these huge DSLRs. But this is a "toy" that sounds interesting and could be fun to play with. Remember, there was a time when auto focusing and auto exposure were just viewed as "toys" for us amateurs.

0 upvotes
Alex Notpro
By Alex Notpro (Jan 19, 2012)

Wikipedia claims an output JPEG resolution of 1024x1024... i.e. a square format which some artist-types are enamored with. So there's another use nobody thought about.... you can MIS-FOCUS the image in post to get a Holga-like artistic square format effect :-)

(mis-focus is not the same as de-focus blur, which you can do in software)

0 upvotes
audijam
By audijam (Jan 19, 2012)

I see it being used for public security purpose.

0 upvotes
bergat
By bergat (Jan 19, 2012)

There is a great possibility to develope the system. What Lytro has done at the end, is the holografy without laser and this is a great improvement.
In the future I think Lytro will develope the system giving the possibility to take a picture of subject in the position it was in the past.

I think Lytro is a technology come from the future.
I have bought shares of this company

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Alex Notpro
By Alex Notpro (Jan 18, 2012)

Being able to fix the focus in post-processing may just be a gimmick. The real advance in this technology is the ability to get shallow Depth Of Field in a small sensor. The first company to get this tech into a 10MP enthusiast compact will take a huge bite out of the DSLR market. People who fret over the coming obsolescence of DSLRs should be very nervous now.

0 upvotes
Marco 2k7
By Marco 2k7 (Jan 19, 2012)

Well, shallow depth of fiels is available on small sensors since photoshop is around. people who buy a DSLR they buy it for many reasons, not just shallow dof at large apertures.

BTW I don't really see how amateurs and/or ent could be attracted by something like this toy.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Alex Notpro
By Alex Notpro (Jan 19, 2012)

Photoshop costs more than this camera and can't adjust DOF.

0 upvotes
dominiks
By dominiks (Feb 5, 2012)

You can't get any shallower depth of field with this technology than with conventional cameras @ same sensor size. The secret behind a shallow depth of field is the combination of a large aperture and a large focal length. The problem with small sensors is that you will only get a very narrow field of view when using a large focal length. As a light-field sensor doesn't have a clue about light-rays not hitting it because it is too small (the same issue as with conventional sensors), this technology doesn't allow virtual sensor enlargement. Hence, you can't get shallower depth just because you are using a light-field sensor instead of a conventional one.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Dedi Kurniawan
By Dedi Kurniawan (Jan 18, 2012)

Great Design..!

1 upvote
Rexyinc
By Rexyinc (Jan 18, 2012)

looks like a fun toy - I tried to order one for Australia - but no international sales are allowed yet.. grr!.. it'll be fun to use on street photography - just point n click and see what you got later at home haha.. it'll be interesting to see where this tech go's in the future

1 upvote
Sdaniella
By Sdaniella (Jan 17, 2012)

alternative to the Lomo camera... hehehehe
for creative fun
nothing especially serious though
or at least
not yet
i think Lomo offers a digital version now...
oh, i just read ViewMaster is offering digital versions of its Stereoscope viewers...
:D

combine TWO LYTROS, and get STEREO 3D digital pics, with shiftable focus points!!! haha! i just invented a new application for BOTH... and you heard it here first

hehehe

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
bigpeeler
By bigpeeler (Jan 16, 2012)

"We really wanted, in the industrial design, for form to follow function.' And, while we've not used it enough to say how functional its form is..."

Color me dubious. :-(

0 upvotes
Suntan
By Suntan (Jan 16, 2012)

I have no beef with the tech, but I do have an issue with the form-factor they choose to introduce it in.

Making a camera with such poor ergonomics (for the sake of making it look different) shows that they are interested more in making it a "wow-look at me" device and not at making it a device that will actually stand on its own merits as a photo capturing tool.

-Suntan

3 upvotes
T3
By T3 (Jan 16, 2012)

Well, in today's market, you need a little of both. As for ergonomics, this is supposed to be a fun device, not something that really needs great ergonomics for serious usage. Think of cell phone cameras. Plenty of people use those to take pictures, and they don't have very good "ergonomics" for that purpose. I think a more important criteria for the design of this device is whether you could fit it in your pocket. And this design allows you to do that.

0 upvotes
Le Kilt
By Le Kilt (Jan 17, 2012)

You're right Suntan, it's not a photo producing tool but an interactive image producing tool. All it produces is the interactive images that you can play with and refocus online or on your Mac. With a PC all you can do is upload it to Lytro.com, view it from there and link to it.

It is made 'different' to stand out and not be compared with a camera, as it doesn't produce JPGs.

So far here we're mostly being presented with marketing info. It's amazing how many haven't realised that it just does not give you a printable photo. If you want a print, you'll have to do a screen capture of the 540x540 pixel box on the screen.

Maybe an option will find its way into the software eventually, but it doesn't sound like it to me.

A great concept and technology, but as it stands, little more than a gimmick imho. Hmmm, a ''camera' that takes photos that you can't send by e-mail or sms...

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Jan 17, 2012)

Aren't all cameras, all photographs, or all commercial artifacts variations on the same "wow, look at me" motive? Even a Craftsman hammer sold at Sears has to be attractive and get good display.

0 upvotes
Le Kilt
By Le Kilt (Jan 17, 2012)

No, some will choose a hammer because it will enable them to put a nail in.

0 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Jan 17, 2012)

Several hammers will appear on the shelf. All wil drive nails, but only one will sell. If the Lytro looked like every other camera, but had a higher price, lower resolution, and no zoom or video, who would buy it? The different shape will prompt questions or comments from everyone who sees it: "Hey, what's that? Gee!" That alone might be worth the price to some. The cost is less than an exotic dog, cat, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, or Leica.

Comment edited 41 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Le Kilt
By Le Kilt (Jan 18, 2012)

Sure. It's sweeping statements like "all cameras, all photographs, or all commercial artifacts variations on the same "wow, look at me" motive" that I disagree with. When I buy a camera, I buy it for what it can do, not what it looks like or what the marketing says.
Hence my different comments on the Lytro, which although interesting is very limited.

P.S. It would be difficult for it to have a lower resolution!

Comment edited 32 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
tkpenalty
By tkpenalty (Jan 16, 2012)

I wonder what is with the biggotry on dpreview. I thought that there would be better here. A lot of the comments here seem like they're from photographers who are scared of seeing their profession 'die out'.

And they must be incredibly short sighted to see "no application exists". Imagine, you take 64 photos from the same perspective, at different settings from one camera in one snap. That'd let you choose after the shot; that'd make a camera a ridiculously powerful tool.

I think they're the same people who see photography as its own sacred art form in which much bravado is thrown around.

3 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Jan 17, 2012)

Buy one, and let everyone know what you are able to do with it. Or is your endorsement simply conceptual?

0 upvotes
Maxseven
By Maxseven (Jan 24, 2012)

I'm with you tk. I think any group of people whom are skilled in a specialized discipline (such as photography) are inherently fearful of technology stripping them of their ranks. Those that have spent the majority of their lives working hard to become ranked professionals in their respective field will always react with gall to new technology that effectively nullifies all of their effort. I recall when Apple overhauled Final Cut Pro, causing an enormous revolt amongst film professionals - mainly because the software made it 'easy' for pretty much anyone to make professional grade productions and Apple removed some of the older functionality that is obsolete. They have simmered down now, but it is a good example of the same type of phenomenon. I'm not saying that Lytro will change things anytime soon, but as they improve the technology, it indeed will cause radical change in photography - for the better.

0 upvotes
MrTaikitso
By MrTaikitso (Jan 16, 2012)

The criticism of this amazing camera and technology is a disgrace. 1) The technology is quite simply mind blowing - and the evidence is the amount of money required to produce the chips that take what would have required a supercomputer to process not long ago. 2) The truth is, this is another photographic invention that betters the human / animal eye. Just as radar or infra red technology does. 3) The industrial design of the camera is unique and pure genius. A simple tube, a touch zoom slider (like that on the LifeRecorder concept at owonder.com/oid) and a small display at one end. More like a telescope and therefore naturally intuitive after decades of chunky boxes worn around our necks! 4) As another commenter has already said, this IS the future of photography and at least they have been honest (like Apple with Apple TV) and said it's an early adopter 'toy'. 5) Once it offers equiv of a 5MP camera, I'm buying.

7 upvotes
Le Kilt
By Le Kilt (Jan 18, 2012)

This is certainly not the future of photography. Trends show that people like and use bigger and better viewing screens or viewfinders. Remember that a telescope is held against the eye, but this will be held away from the eye like any P&S camera.

In its current format, the Lytro remains a fun gadget
(and unique on the consumer market, I'll give them that).

A 5 MP version would be fabulous and allow reasonable prints to be obtained, but that's 20 times the resolution, the storage and processing will need a big leap forward (~500Mb per pic?)...one day...

0 upvotes
Matthew Miller
By Matthew Miller (Jan 16, 2012)

Your chance to buy a piece of history (or a square foot of moon real estate, depending on your degree of skepticism).

Clearly, at this resolution, this isn't really a useful camera. You can get objectively better results with a point and shoot camera and software faking the focus effect. But that's not what this is all about. The makers of this camera are betting that this technology will be *the* camera tech in fifty years. Computational photography will be the standard, and traditional lenses quaint and obsolete. This isn't guaranteed, but it's not an unreasonable bet, either.

Maybe, for a $20,000 price point, they could have made a high-resolution camera with actual practical use in some specialized field. Instead, though, they're making a consumer product, and offering consumers the chance to tell their children "I had one of *the first ones*."

In other words, it's not *really* a camera. It's a future collectors' item.

Comment edited 38 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 16, 2012)

This isn't future collectors' item. It's an investor scam. Technologically it's a deadend.

3 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Jan 16, 2012)

This is not new technology. All it is....a fun hack. Camera takes tiny previews of images on the same old cmos/ccd sensor with the somewhat unique optical system.
If you happen to have something in its limited focal range, you can "refocus"

The only future I see is if they make lenses for canon and nikon (with provided software) This will allow your 21Mp full frame to take cel phone quality pictures you can refocus. How excited are we about that?

1 upvote
W Sanders
By W Sanders (Jan 16, 2012)

As I understand it the "magic" is in the sensor and not the lens. And considering the resolution you don't really need a super duper lens. I can see Lytro's tech getting packaged into a smartphone but not a "camera system".

4 upvotes
T3
By T3 (Jan 16, 2012)

A lot of the complaints here sound like the complaints we heard in the early days of digital photography. People tend to be very short-sighted and dismissive when something new and unfamiliar comes along. And this Lytro is about as new and unfamiliar as it gets!

People need to chill out and let this product mature before slamming it outright. I remember when the iPhone first came out: "What? A smartphone without a keyboard? It'll never fly!" And then the iPad: "What the heck does anyone need that for? It's just a giant iPhone that doesn't make calls! No one wants tablets!"

5 upvotes
Bryan Costin
By Bryan Costin (Jan 19, 2012)

Exactly. Everything is a "toy" right up until it becomes a tool. Only time will tell if it's cost effective to scale the technology up to a higher resolution consumer camera.

0 upvotes
DaveMarx
By DaveMarx (Jan 15, 2012)

"Right now, it doesn't fit my needs, so it has no value."

That's not the point. This is an attempt to popularize a potentially transformative technology. Phototography, roll film, Eastman's box camera, Polaroid, video, holography, digital imaging... it's impossible to predict the impact beforehand. People often find unexpected ways to use it.Maybe this won't take off, maybe it will.

Lytro's strategy follows the original Kodak approach - first, the mass market. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the supporting technologies are not far enough along to deliver affordable consumer products (the CCD came way too soon in the history of large scale integration to go directly to consumer gear). In this case, the pieces are in place. We'll see if the public embraces it. If not, government and industry will still have plenty of uses.

Pro photographers? It's always flattering when we're the first to get a new technology, but what's flattery got to do with it?

2 upvotes
PhilB
By PhilB (Jan 15, 2012)

Remember the story of the king with no clothes? This product reminds me of that. While it incorporates some innovate technology and offers unique capabilities, I just don't see it more than a parlor trick. It solves a problem that doesn't need solving and does it with image quality that's a fraction of what's expected and offered in today's cameras. I come to this opinion based on 20 years as a camera designer and optical engineer.

5 upvotes
Esa Tuunanen
By Esa Tuunanen (Jan 16, 2012)

Precisely.
This technology is basically only lots of hype for Joe Average Sheeples who can't think for themselves and always drool like rabid dogs when there's new marketing BS with lots of fancy sounding words.

Because of absolutely craptastic final image resolution compared to sensor requirements only place I see for this tech is in some possible special applications and gimmick toys.
And tiny sensor compacts (+phone cameras) at wide angle have any way so huge depth of field that even focusing shouldn't be much of problem in them.

2 upvotes
sportyaccordy
By sportyaccordy (Jan 15, 2012)

Why are people measuring this thing's value on the merits of its professional features/quality? I would bet money 99% of DPReview posters are amateurs at best. Real professionals & photography enthusiasts can see the value in a camera like this.

4 upvotes
Everlast66
By Everlast66 (Jan 15, 2012)

How did you arrive at the conclusion that this product has any pro merrits?!?

First of all the body is designed more like a stylish toy, and not to be practical at all. If it was a pro tool the body would be designed for ease of use, durability and compatability. It has built in memory, oly 540x540 res, no flash, etc.

I think their biggest mistake is they didn't give it a bit more camera-like body, this way it would look at least a bit more credible, not like an expensive toy.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Ben Tomohiku
By Ben Tomohiku (Jan 15, 2012)

I'm not interested in such toys.

4 upvotes
Button Pusher
By Button Pusher (Jan 15, 2012)

540x540 resolution? ROTFL

I think the technology used has promise, but this isn't ready for prime time for anything but 'novelty' uses. A cell phone camera is much more appealing than this as it will always be with a person to take pictures and they will be of a much higher resolution and nearly always be in focus anyway because nearly everything is in focus with the tiny lens and sensor on the typical cell phone cam.

1 upvote
BradJudy
By BradJudy (Jan 15, 2012)

For those who think the camera is BS, snakeoil, trickery, etc; there are many resources on microlens array imagery out there. You can start with the academic paper published by the guys who founded Lytro: http://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/lfcamera/lfcamera-150dpi.pdf And also look at the industrial application from Raytrix (which came before Lytro) - http://www.raytrix.de/

Of course, even the high resolution industrial ones only go up to 7MP. Raytrix notes on their site that adding a microlens array to a sensor cuts its effective resolution to 1/4 of the original. So, a high resolution one is possible, but you have to start with an extremely high resolution sensor - not a cheap proposition.

I don't know much about Lytro, but I have a friend who also worked on microlens array imaging in graduate school.

0 upvotes
Patrick J Burns
By Patrick J Burns (Jan 15, 2012)

This is the GRANDPARENTS CAMERA ... A Point-&-Shoot that you point and shoot...

2 upvotes
M1guel
By M1guel (Jan 15, 2012)

Photography is DEAD!

0 upvotes
Digital Tips
By Digital Tips (Jan 15, 2012)

This looks great. It's got a kind of retro feel to it in my opinion.

I don't know why, but it kind of reminds me of those red slide viewers for children. Not that I'm saying this looks like a childs toy.

It does look like great fun though.

1 upvote
Picturenaut
By Picturenaut (Jan 15, 2012)

I agree with d2f that this is a new paradigm shift in photography, and a really exciting one. To me, light field photog is the beginning of the era of real digital photography. Todays digital stills shootin is based on an a replacement of film by a sensor. Of course, that offers more from video to full digital PP. But a print of a digital picture has basically the same quality as one from one a film shot (lets not discuss details).

Light field now adds completely new features that you only can use in electronic pictures: 3D information, that is free selection of sharpness AFTER your shot, an option to process it later into 3D pictures - and in future, 3D videos, too.

So I am really excited about the new Lytros. Unfortunately they will not (yet) be available in Europe in spring 2012. I tried to get an early copy for a German physics magazine that I edit - no chance at the moment. Sigh.

0 upvotes
d2f
By d2f (Jan 15, 2012)

We could be looking at another paradigm shift. Just as sheet film to was to wet plates; as roll film was to sheet film; as digital was to film and Photoshop was to the darkroom. We should not assume for a minute that this is the last innovation to the field of photography, instead we should see it as just another development along the way.

IMHO, we live in interesting times, as the field of photography is advancing faster than it has ever done before. Eventually we will have no more excuses left for not creating the perfect images that we think we can create if it were not for the current imperfect gear that we possess.

That may force a lot of photographers to sell their gear and call it quits and stop posting serious comments on dpreview. ;^)

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
dsstahl
By dsstahl (Jan 15, 2012)

I think this camera is real cool. Most people put it as a gadget for the novice or occasional picture taker, and not something to be used by a pro. This device has alot of potential, I think it will give a whole new direction to photography in the next 5 to 6yrs.The history of the camera goes from box cameras, to plates,to film, 35 mm to digital, to now this type of camera. I think it is the next wave.

Can you imagine if they put some of this tech in to good glass, like a telephoto that can go from 18-800mm and have like a f 1.8 lens or a camera body with a better sensor that can take exposure from 5 to -5 or have the ss from 100 to 3200 all in one picture.

I think for know it is mostly a gadget and would love to have this built into my Iphone. I have taken some good pics with DSLR, but also some good ones with the IPHONE, and point and shoots. Mostly I would love to take this camera for a test drive. Becasue as they say the best camera you have is the one you have with you.

1 upvote
Tee1up
By Tee1up (Jan 14, 2012)

The more I see of this kind of stuff, the more I am convinced that you will see photography eventually split off into 2 streams. Serious quality photographic tools and heavily optimized smartphone cameras.

The iphone, as an example already shoots better video/pictures than many of my earlier digital cameras.

I am not certain I understand this technology, but with the limitations inherent in smartphone cameras, this kind of image focus control would be a natural fit for Android/iphone type systems.

0 upvotes
pcworth
By pcworth (Jan 14, 2012)

Its interesting to see people dissing this new camera technology. I remember the same thing happening when digital cameras came out. Lots of people looked at my Casio QV-10 with the 320x240 images and said it would never take off. A few years later I got a Nikon Coolpix, and then a Canon Powershot G2, and a Powershot 30, and then a Panasonic FZ5 and an SLR, and just recently a Fuji 3D (which is not great).

Amazingly, digital is still here and film is now a niche (still love my OM-1n and Stereo Realist), so to say that this is a gimmick shows a complete lack of vision. Who knows what the long term potential is as the technology matures. A lot of people will like the idea that they do not need to worry about the focus during picture taking. Imagine having a camera lens that does not require a focus mechanism. The weight and cost saving would be significant.

Right now though, it is a fun proof of concept and maybe a cool spy cam, but who knows what the future holds.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Jan 15, 2012)

I dont remember anyone saying it would never take off. Hmmm ... no I dont. But I remember myself and others saying that the the 320x240 Bayer image cameras was toys. And that was right. Very expensive toys.

Now ... the Lytro camera has to be 100 MP RAW or so before getting serious. Is that possible ... yes it is. Do I foresee that Lytro is going to make those cameras? No I dont. I think someone will buy Lytro. I think thats the main plan behind starting this company. To get rich by selling a company.

Then we will see if the buyer takes the invention anywhere.

1 upvote
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 16, 2012)

"I think someone will buy Lytro."

Really? Who would that be? Foveon didn't come up with a toy technology, they had a really cool, though expensive one. And who but Sigma wanted to buy them? Lytro has zero, nil, nada chances to survive, at best somebody will buy their patents after they go out of business.

0 upvotes
jbruce
By jbruce (Jan 14, 2012)

This camera uses a FFT (fast Fourier transform) on the data file to extract the image information. As someone stated, there are micro lenses over the pixels, and each photo site captures information from more than one viewpoint or angle. (simplified explanation)

All the refocusing is done mathematically. It is also possible with this technology to change the apparent focal length of the lens - all from a single image. What you see with this is a change in perspective.

Not trying to start a huge discussion about this. There are papers available written by the Lytro guys and others about how this all works.

0 upvotes
Matthew Miller
By Matthew Miller (Jan 16, 2012)

Changing focal length doesn't change perspective, with a lightfield camera or a traditional lens. Only moving changes perspective.

0 upvotes
robogobo
By robogobo (Jan 14, 2012)

Sorry, but I still don't see this as anything more than a gimmick. All the info and description of what this camera does and how it works is just a bunch of words amounting to nothing. From what I can gather, it makes a few separate exposures at different focus points, each with overlapping depth of field, and then combines them to allow interactive "refocusing". Sounds neither useful nor revolutionary.

3 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 14, 2012)

That's pretty much correct, except there is no need in multiple exposures, all the information from all pixels from different focus planes can be recorded in a single sweep. Due to this design it will always be a low resolution toy camera. There are two technologies that can do a lot better. One is to use rapid focus bracketing, and another to use a prism to split input into multiple sensors with shifted focus planes. Both are more expensive, but unlike lytro they can offer professional quality.

1 upvote
jsis
By jsis (Jan 15, 2012)

I have been saying something similar about how this has no real practical uses. But people here are too focused about how it works in detail... and fail to grasp the fact that consumers only care about the end results.

3 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Jan 15, 2012)

The current incarnation of the technology might not be interesting other than a toy. But ... it is perfectly feasible to make a camera that is useful. You will need 6x6=36 times more detectors than resulting pixels. So, a 10 MP image needs a 360 MP sensor. Thats not unrealistic in some few years time. This camera could well be made in 2015 or so. ---- So dont laugh at this until you see where it goes.

0 upvotes
Matthew Miller
By Matthew Miller (Jan 16, 2012)

You've gathered wrong; that's not how it works.

0 upvotes
robogobo
By robogobo (Jan 16, 2012)

Well then please explain how it works, using established principles and terminology. All we are permitted to "gather" is the magical explanation pushed by lytro using terms with no meaning, such as "light field" and "megarays" and "defocusing" and "4D". They explain the concept but never define the terms used in the explanation.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Gregg Tavares
By Gregg Tavares (Jan 14, 2012)

I think it's a neat idea but like others I don't really see the market.

Pros probably don't want. Average people just want to take a picture and have it uploaded to their facebook. They don't want to have the extra step of choosing a focus point. They're used to everything in focus.

Of course I though the Flip was the stupidest idea ever too as every camera already had video. But it was a huge hit so what do I know.

As Boomz keeps pointing out these look more interesting
http://raytrix.de/index.php/Cameras.html

More settings on the lens. Up to 7megapixels with Nikon or Canon lens mount.

1 upvote
sportyaccordy
By sportyaccordy (Jan 14, 2012)

"I dont understand or want this, therefore it should not be made". Nobody cares what you photo-fundamentalists want or think. This camera looks awesome, and as it gets developed it will be even better. I'm looking forward to it.

2 upvotes
Izu
By Izu (Jan 14, 2012)

Another news about Lytro... so boring...

2 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Jan 14, 2012)

As with all our stories, we provide the capability to not read it.

There is a lot of interest (and misunderstanding) about Lytro - so it seems reasonable for us to try to cover/explain as more information becomes available.

6 upvotes
psn
By psn (Jan 15, 2012)

Another person devoid of imagination. Someone who can't think forward and finds anything new or different boring. People like you are the reason the world is what it is today.

0 upvotes
Eric Hensel
By Eric Hensel (Jan 15, 2012)

No, it's people like both of you, and the rest of us that make the world what it is. I'd hate to think how boring the world would be if we all agreed all the time

0 upvotes
Eden S
By Eden S (Jan 14, 2012)

Unfortunately I think most of the people posting here fail to realize the potential for a camera like this. They see no further than the current product in front of them (basically a prototype.) Imagine in the future now, employing the concept behind this camera into larger SLR bodies, VIDEO, stereoscopic photo/video with unlimited depth of field, maybe an f1.8 shot with unlimited DOF, underwater stuff where light is limited, military equipment, etc. Even I can't fathom how this can change how we capture, so I wouldn't be so bold as to condemn the technology. Some people have absolutely no imagination, yet they take up a hobby or profession like photography... Then they post here on DPReview how they want technology to stop evolving just like they have.

12 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 14, 2012)

You are right about different interesting applications, but you need to ask yourself a question whether this design is conducive to these goals or maybe it's a deadend. I have all reasons to believe tis the latter, and I'm sure much better alternatives will appear when the market is ready.

2 upvotes
srados
By srados (Jan 15, 2012)

As long long camera is breaking the stereotypes I will not have wide appeal and audience.Problem is with digital technology is consumed as toilet paper,as such, these new arrivals are seen as gimmick.I am still happy with my Canon 20D as long as I can purchase spare batteries for it.

0 upvotes
Robert Daniels
By Robert Daniels (Jan 20, 2012)

This is exactly what I said before. Don't look at the camera itself. Look at the Technology behind it. I really don't think Lytro wants to compete with the juggernauts of the DSLR world, but I think their technology can be incorporated into future cameras made by all camera companies. All they have to do is sit back and collect the $$$ while also selling towards the 'fun' market. I mean most people were thinking the mirrorless camera by Niikon was going to be a flop....well go check Nikon sales results for the first quarter...pretty impressive.

0 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Jan 14, 2012)

I saw something like this the other day in the Toys R Us toy department store, but it was only priced at $19.95. Why the stiff surcharge for the Lytro models, I wonder?

Anyhow, the one I saw said "Age 3 and up." What is the intended target age group for the Lytro-cams, I wonder?

0 upvotes
Everlast66
By Everlast66 (Jan 15, 2012)

The Lytro cams are intended for 3 and LESS! this way all ages are covered.

2 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Jan 14, 2012)

I think SONY has the highest chance of picking up this company consider SONY's great everything except CDAF speed. I am not sure if any company want this on a DSLR/EVIL though. It wold make one hell of a big and complicated sensor.

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (Jan 14, 2012)

You can only VIEW and manipulate the image from a file that is HOSTED by the camera manufacturer in their CLOUD.

I want my image to be MINE, not surrendered to some CLOUD owned by the camera maker.

I want it to be on MY computer.

Read the fine print before signing the purchase...

11 upvotes
solsang
By solsang (Jan 14, 2012)

The pictures ARE on your computer!!

You load the lytro "raw" pictures from the camera to your computer, where you can edit it with the suppplied program.

If you want to share the living lytro-picture, then you can choose to upload (an optimized version of) the picture to be hosted at their site and accessed via facebook or embedded.

You will be fully able to edit and save and share still-photos grabbed from your own lytro "raw" files on your computer.

The normal exported (jpg) pictures will be HD size, thus 1mp enhanced snapshots, since the actual raw file contains 15mega-rays, best understood as a huge instantly snapped bunch of differently focused pictures from which you select the ones you like:)

7 upvotes
pcworth
By pcworth (Jan 14, 2012)

Not only is the world moving to the cloud, the use of cloud based systems provides more platform independence. I wish more companies, like Fuji and their 3D camera, would move to the cloud for processing instead of providing us with third rate desktop experiences.

0 upvotes
Le Kilt
By Le Kilt (Jan 15, 2012)

solsang : There is virtually no information on what you can do with the data file on your Mac, other than "process" it to get an interactive image, certainly not the ability to export it as a jpg. Windows version is "under development".

The resolution is 540x540 and you can zoom in to 200% in a 540x540 box - you don't get a 1080x1080 view.

To get a 540x540 jpg? Screenshot.
To get a 1080x1080 jpg? 4 screenshots stitched together in some other software.

pcworth : no cloud here, you can upload to lytro.com and link to their site ('embedded'), or... nothing. Well, yes, save your own 540x540 screenshot.

0 upvotes
LukeDuciel
By LukeDuciel (Jan 14, 2012)

it's interesting to see people leave a train long BS comment before spending 30 seconds skimming through the little blue link at the end of article which overviews the technology employed.

The product may not be attracting to all gear heads. But it's quite a piece of innovation.

2 upvotes
love_them_all
By love_them_all (Jan 14, 2012)

If you have read the article from the link above, you'll find out it is not about taking one sharp image and then blur out different section in post. The camera has micro lenses to "de-focus" light and then redirect them on different pixels. In plain english, one point of light is being spilt into several pixels, each have a different "focus" point. This explains the low res because one pixel of info now uses several pixels. The software will assemble the final image using selective pixels.
This effect however can be simulated with a conventional camera, taking a few frames of the same image with different focus points. Then layer them together to give the change in focus effect. Of course, the draw back is when the objects in the frame are moving. Say a 1000fps+ camera and some post software is needed to freeze the frames as close to one as possible.

2 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Jan 14, 2012)

This reminds me of snake oil remedies. A camera technology that nobody really needs. Especially at these whacked-out prices.

0 upvotes
robogobo
By robogobo (Jan 14, 2012)

"defocus"? And what are "mega-rays"? This camera is such a load of bs. They might as well just say it's "magic" and leave it at that.

1 upvote
dzhonatan
By dzhonatan (Jan 14, 2012)

@robogobo: It is pretty magical--this was the topic of a Physics PhD dissertation. I'm not surprised you don't understand exactly how it works.

And a "mega-ray" is exactly what it sounds like: one million rays.

1 upvote
robogobo
By robogobo (Jan 16, 2012)

So each 11 or 15 megaray file, a computer file, "contains" rays of light? I guess I need my own phd to understand that part.

Comment edited 44 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
CaseyComo
By CaseyComo (Jan 14, 2012)

I pre-pre-ordered this (or whatever they call it when you sign up for the option to be one of the first buyers). I opted not to order it when they gave me the opportunity. It's a very neat piece of technology, but as a camera...meh . I probably would've bought two if it had been available before christmas, just so I could sell them on Craigslist.

0 upvotes
davebot900
By davebot900 (Jan 14, 2012)

Still bugs me that they won't allow processing on a personal computer. Why not give up control? Their lame excuse was something to the effect of "we don't want you wasting your CPU on cranking the calculations for this, so we set up servers to handle it." Then why is the memory module irremovable? Just so they have one more mode of control over the camera? It's just weird.

Definitely a gimmick for now, but the technology certainly looks very promising. Can't wait till this is implemented in other cameras. Imagine an SLR or mirrorless type camera which didn't have to focus. Lenses could be smaller, sharper...

0 upvotes
Boomz
By Boomz (Jan 14, 2012)

It has already been developed for some time now - http://raytrix.de/index.php/home.html

0 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Jan 14, 2012)

If you want deep focus using an ultra wide angle lens on a camera at F8, F11, or F16 aperture, you already do not have much to worry about setting focus on the camera.

0 upvotes
jtmon
By jtmon (Jan 15, 2012)

Isn't about deep focus, it's about choosing the focus point after shooting and still getting a shallow dof effect at whatever point.

0 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 14, 2012)

Frankly, it's just a pretty useless low resolution, low quality toy camera. What the serious camera manufacturers need to do is incorporate focus bracketing. If one could get 10 shots in a second, each with focus shifted by current DOF in both directions, that would be a dream sports camera.

2 upvotes
Boomz
By Boomz (Jan 14, 2012)

Here's the real deal - http://raytrix.de/index.php/home.html

3 upvotes
jmmgarza
By jmmgarza (Jan 14, 2012)

This camera may be all talk and no sales.

3 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 14, 2012)

This camera seems like an easy ploy of milking clueless investors.

2 upvotes
Sordid
By Sordid (Jan 14, 2012)

I'd even say it's Vaporware. Unless I see somebody independent taking a picture of a fast moving scene, processing it on his rig and putting it online, I don't believe it really exists.

1 upvote
dzhonatan
By dzhonatan (Jan 14, 2012)

My sister is a personal friend of Eric Chang (the director of photography--they went to Stanford together). It's very real.

Of course, you probably won't believe me.

2 upvotes
Gao Gao
By Gao Gao (Jan 14, 2012)

So the standard mode is hyperfocal as expected and advanced mode is the sloppy auto-focus mode.

0 upvotes
HeezDeadJim
By HeezDeadJim (Jan 14, 2012)

For those suggesting that all this camera is, is shooting at a small aperture where everything is in focus, and then blurring it in post-pro...I just tried all the "blurring" techniques in PS5 (smart, gaussian, box, etc.) to replicate some "in focus" christmas lights into fake bokeh ones.

Alas, I could not get it to even remotely look like a melted orb (with the typical haloing) with such tools. Selective blurring is not any way, shape or form, the same as how the lens distorts the shape of out of focus objects. You're talking about edges of objects intersecting into other objects, depending how far/close it is from the focused area and creating our shallow DOF.

If I'm missing a method in PS to mimic this look fairly easy (not 5+ layers and 2 hours later easy), someone please tell me so I can experiment with it some more.

1 upvote
HeezDeadJim
By HeezDeadJim (Jan 14, 2012)

Also, for those that think this is going to make "lazy" photographers, how is this any different from pro cameras offering 7-10fps shooting?

Sure someone could just take a photo of a flower and "fling" the focus behind the flower to the front of the flower so that way one of those 10 frames will be in focus (given with fast enough shutter speeds to minimize "focusing blur"). The "lazy photographer" could do that instead of spending some time to compose and focus.

But if you are being paid for "that shot" of an eagle swooping down for a fish in the water, they will want that 10fps. I can sports photographer using this in case the AF didn't keep up with the players (the arm is in focus, but not the face) right when the player was making game winning catch or kick.

You can see it as lazy all you want, but I think some paid professionals wouldn't mind having this tech when it gets more advanced (i.e. more points and higher resolution).

0 upvotes
EarthQuake
By EarthQuake (Jan 15, 2012)

I understand that this camera isn't faking it(I've read the whitepapers etc) but what you're looking for is:

filter-> blur -> lens blur. You can even pick the number of aperture blades(3 to 8) to reproduce a specific type of bokeh

Its fairly processor intensive though, and works best if you have some sort of "depth" map in the alpha channel of your image, though you can simply copy a layer, blur, and mask - it's not nearly as effective then.

If the lytro could capture depth data(not sure) this would actually be a very robust solution.

0 upvotes
ChrisKramer1
By ChrisKramer1 (Jan 14, 2012)

They don't want to sell a camera - they just want to show off that their technology works and then hope that Sony or Canon will take them over for megabux.

2 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (Jan 14, 2012)

Selling a talk is much easier than selling a product.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 140
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