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Lytro announces Light Field Camera

By dpreview staff on Oct 19, 2011 at 18:54 GMT

Plenoptic camera maker Lytro has unveiled its first product - the Lytro Light Field Camera. Available in early 2012, the camera will come in 8Gb and 16Gb versions, costing $399 and $499, and capable of storing 350 and 750 images respectively in their internal memory. The cameras feature a 35-280mm equivalent, constant F2 lens with what the company is calling an 11 megaray sensor, that captures photos that can be refocused after shooting. Company Founder and CEO Ren Ng showed us the camera and talked us through the shooting experience.

Click here for our Lytro Light Field Camera overview with Ren Ng

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Press Release:

Lytro, Inc. Unveils the World's First Consumer Light Field Camera

Groundbreaking new camera instantly captures interactive, living pictures to share with friends and family online

Mountain View, CA – October 19, 2011 - Today, Lytro, Inc. (www.lytro.com) unveiled the first Lytro consumer light field camera, introducing a new way to take and experience pictures. Unlike conventional cameras, the Lytro light field camera captures all the rays of light in a scene, providing new capabilities never before possible, such as the ability to focus a picture after it's taken. The pocket-sized camera, which offers a powerful 8x optical zoom and f/2 lens in an iconic design, creates interactive "living pictures" that can be endlessly refocused. The camera is available in two models and three colors, starting at $399.

The Lytro is the only consumer camera that lets people instantly capture a scene just as they see it by recording a fundamentally richer set of data than ever before. Lytro cameras feature a light field sensor that collects the color, intensity, and the direction of every light ray flowing into the camera, capturing a scene in four dimensions. To process this additional information, Lytro cameras contain a light field engine that allows camera owners to refocus pictures directly on the camera. When the Lytro's living pictures are shared online, the light field engine travels with each picture so anyone can interact with them on nearly any device, including web browsers, mobile phones, and tablets — without having to download special software.

The Lytro's sleek design was created with simplicity in mind. With no unnecessary modes or dials, the camera features just two buttons — power and shutter — and has an intuitive glass touchscreen that lets pictures be viewed and refocused directly on the camera. While the Lytro camera houses complex technology, it is fundamentally easy to use, opening new creative opportunities for anyone interested in sharing their favorite memories with friends and family.

The Lytro camera's features include:

  • Form follows function: The Lytro's unique compact design is driven by its 8x optical zoom lens, which features a constant f/2 aperture. The Lytro's anodized aluminum body is lightweight yet sturdy. At less than eight ounces, the Lytro puts remarkable power in a pocket-sized camera.
  • Proprietary light field science: The Lytro is the only camera that captures life in living pictures. Its innovative light field sensor captures 11 million light rays of data (or 11 megarays), including the direction of each ray, something conventional cameras don't do. The light field engine then processes the data into a picture that is displayed in HD quality.
  • Unparalleled speed: The Lytro's speed ensures that people never miss a moment. It turns on instantly and has an instant shutter. With no need to auto-focus, the Lytro has no shutter delays.
  • Low-light sensitivity: By using all of the available light in a scene, the Lytro performs well in low-light environments without the use of a flash.
  • Significant storage: The Lytro is available in both 8GB and 16GB models, storing 350 and 750 pictures respectively. In addition, our first camera owners will enjoy free storage for the light field pictures they've uploaded to Lytro.com.
  • Seeing in 3D: Coming soon! Captured as a full light field, all pictures taken with the Lytro are inherently 3D. Special light field algorithms, available in 2012, will be applied to the light field pictures to enable viewing on any 3D display and to enable viewers to shift the perspective of the scene.

The Lytro light field camera is accompanied by Lytro's desktop application, a free software download that easily imports pictures from camera to computer. Currently available for Mac OS X, the desktop application lets people view, interact with, organize and share their light field pictures. Lytro pictures can then be uploaded to Lytro.com to be shared via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or as links in email messages. Once shared, Lytro's living pictures allow viewers to live the moment with the photographer and explore a scene like never before. Viewers can continually interact with Lytro pictures – focusing them over and over – expanding the creative possibilities of each and every shot.

Concepts related to the light field and computational photography have been researched in academic circles for more than a century. Light field science was the subject of Lytro CEO and Founder Dr. Ren Ng's Ph.D. dissertation in computer science at Stanford, which was awarded the internationally-recognized ACM Dissertation Award in 2007 as well as Stanford University's Arthur Samuel Award for Best Ph.D. Dissertation. Dr. Ng's research focused on miniaturizing light field technology into the body of a single camera to make it practical for everyday use.

The digital still camera market is large and growing with $38.3 billion in worldwide revenue in 2010 and expectations to increase to $43.5 billion worldwide by 2015.* Visual storytelling is universal, with 60 billion photos shared on Facebook in 2010, projected to reach 100 billion photos by this summer.

"Light field photography was once only possible with 100 cameras tethered to a supercomputer in a lab," said Ng. "Today it's accessible to everyone in a camera that's small and powerful, but incredibly easy to use. Our goal is to forever change the way people take and experience pictures, and today marks our first major step."

Pricing & Availability

The Lytro camera is available in two models: 8GB ($399, 350 pictures, in Electric Blue or Graphite) and 16GB ($499, 750 pictures, in Red Hot). It is now available to order at Lytro.com and will ship in early 2012. The Lytro desktop application will be available initially for the Mac operating system; a Windows version will be available in 2012.

For a demonstration of living pictures, visit the Lytro Picture Gallery: www.lytro.com/living-pictures.

* ―Digital Still Cameras: Devices, Features, Lenses, Sensors, and Semiconductors,‖ In-Stat (2011)

Additional images

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Comments

Total comments: 271
123
bonik
By bonik (Oct 20, 2011)

Why is that everytime a new camera/device arrives it is judged as if it is supposed to make all other cameras/devices obsolete? The magic "one size fits all" camera/device doesn't exist - and will not come anytime soon..
I cannot imagine that Lytro expects the Light Field to replace all 'traditional' cameras. Personally I prefer SLR's, but I often use a P&S and even my phone to capture stills & video - depending of the purpose and situation. Instead of regarding the Lytro as a replacement of existing technology, why not regard it as a new possibility? After all, video has not replaced still photography, not yet anyway - both medias has their own purpose, you can do things with video you can't do with stills and vice versa.
I don't see the Lytro as a potential replacement or competitor to my existing cameras, but I do see the Lytro as a great new imaging possibility, kind of a "living still image" where the viewer can "explore" the image (retro focus and perhaps 3D)

5 upvotes
Charrick
By Charrick (Oct 20, 2011)

YES! Thank you!

One guy's on here, saying, "There are NO pictures in low light on the website. NONE."

Who cares?! This is a completely new technology that isn't priced at $20,000 a piece. (In fact, if it were priced so high, I'm pretty sure people would have more respect for it.) Cut it a little slack.

"I'm disappointed because this $399 camera that completely opens up new possibilities for photography doesn't best my 7D with regards to image quality." That's not a real quote, but it's the kind of stuff I hear way too much here.

I might buy this camera. I'm not expecting video or super high ISO performance or any other bells and whistles even seen on a compact camera. If I bought this camera, I'd buy it because it can do ONE thing that no other camera can do. And that thing is quite amazing - in fact, a technology that I didn't think would ever be realized. I didn't imagine that pictures even 1,000 years from now would be so!

5 upvotes
Imagine
By Imagine (Jan 17, 2012)

So, it's Lomography 2.0, or a less complicated lens-baby...
No comments on the fact that the software is Mac OS based. Tells a lot for the target group, and has the (over)price to much. (aka if you have a $2,000 laptop almost exclusively to FB and twit - ofc only MBPs can do that - a $500 camera surely matches the owe-factor).

It looks cool tho - late 50s...Dieter Rams would be proud.

0 upvotes
Peter Galbavy
By Peter Galbavy (Oct 20, 2011)

I wish Ren Ng and Lytro every success. While the concept and the execution may seem alien to many, including myself I have to say, it is the first time that digital photography has moved beyond a direct adaptation of film photography and is trying to use technology to do something beyond faster/cheaper/smaller.

I may well take the plunge and throw some money at playing with this next year. The only thing that concerns me is actually the primary selling point - no prints ;)

13 upvotes
gl2k
By gl2k (Oct 20, 2011)

Great example of someone coming too early.
I bet this cam is at least 10 years ahead of its time and therefore will fail. And as history tells us ... in 10 years every P&S will have this technology.
Does someone still remember the Apple Newton ?

4 upvotes
jeremiahtrue
By jeremiahtrue (Oct 20, 2011)

But in response to that, someone has to lead the way and show what the technology can produce. I am not going to rush out and buy one, not just yet, but there is a strong possibility that I will if for nothing more than a) a cool gadget that can take interesting photos b) support the company to show that there is an interest and encourage them to grow the technology.

0 upvotes
ianimal
By ianimal (Oct 20, 2011)

But the most important:

-"Does it smell good?" (Dr. NakaMats)

0 upvotes
lylejk
By lylejk (Oct 20, 2011)

Orders of magnitude cheaper the the only other lightfield camera that I know of. I wonder what the equavalent bit dimensions (pixels) this camera will be (i.e., are the pictures that can be procesed print worthy). Still, I'm almost tempted to get one of these since, like I said, this technology is much cheaper then $25K (no joke; lol). Kudos to the geniouses behind this camera. This is the future of photographer for sure. :)

0 upvotes
Boris F
By Boris F (Oct 20, 2011)

The fastest time to market camera:
"We don't have any specifications for this product, but they'll appear here soon... It is now available to order at Lytro.com and will ship in early 2012."(dpreview). No specs, but possible to order..hm, hm, hm... :-)

1 upvote
B64
By B64 (Oct 20, 2011)

Some of the specs are listed on the Lytro website (size: 41x41x112 mm, weight: 214g and a screen size of just 33mm). That makes it the camera with the smallest LCD screen on the market today, by some margin.

0 upvotes
Boris F
By Boris F (Oct 26, 2011)

Nice idea, funny demo... but it s not product yet.

0 upvotes
puneetvikramsingh
By puneetvikramsingh (Oct 20, 2011)

after seeing its construction i think it will gather the light by moving its lense and focusing from 0 to infinite distance and then collectively processing the data to refocus at desired point.

0 upvotes
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (Oct 20, 2011)

Nope, it uses an array of large micro-lenses. There's a good video describing exactly how the technology works

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EI75wPL0nU

0 upvotes
puneetvikramsingh
By puneetvikramsingh (Oct 20, 2011)

its not looking like a camera :(
i think its not for the consumers its for CIA, FBI, RAW, and ISI.....lol

1 upvote
PinkertOn
By PinkertOn (Oct 20, 2011)

Man, you are boring...

4 upvotes
Craig Fenel
By Craig Fenel (Oct 27, 2011)

I see a lot of potential here. Instant on and instant image is great. I would like to see higher resolution and the ability to output an image that is entirely in focus.

0 upvotes
VadymA
By VadymA (Oct 20, 2011)

Great idea, not so great execution. Hope they manage to pull it off and generate enough sales to keep R&D team going. Maybe couple of years from now it will be able to break through the pure gadget category. Another thing that spoiled the image for me (other than IQ) is an obvious attempt to copy Apple business model virtually from A to Z. Don't know why but had an aftertaste of a sour apple sort of...

2 upvotes
LukeDuciel
By LukeDuciel (Oct 20, 2011)

It's an absolutely brilliant idea. But I do not think they have found the hot button for consumers. Maybe start from something like mobile phone or toy-cam-like gadget.

1 upvote
Tawen Mei
By Tawen Mei (Oct 20, 2011)

I don't want to focus afterward. I'd rather have a smart camera that knows what my subject is. Face detection does an okay good job at that.

Not to be discouraging to the folks that made it happen, as this is a step forward in engineering, but a giant leap backward for consumers.

0 upvotes
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (Oct 20, 2011)

The idea they're going for isn't just to refocus the image after you've shot it but to make the image "fun" by letting viewers (on facebook or whatever) refocus live.

Consumers get a lot of exposure to things like shallow depth of field and pull-focusing in films and Lytro are probably banking on people wanting to do that with photos they've taken

0 upvotes
danw82
By danw82 (Oct 20, 2011)

You're trying to apply current preconceptions to a new technology.
What this does is free people from the often slow and frequently inaccurate and unreliable process of being required to set focus before taking a shot.
Currently, autofocus systems have a miniscule fraction of a second to process an image and determine perfect focus.
Imagine skipping autofocus altogether, taking a photo instantaneously, and then being able to let the camera software spend all the time it needs to analyse the content, determine facial features, etc. and set the perfect focus.
You'd also have the option of tweaking the focus yourself if you were unhappy with the automatic result.
You'd even potentially have the ability to selectively refocus different parts of a single image, if you really wanted to fine-tune.

It would give you options. Who would say no to that?

3 upvotes
THSolutions
By THSolutions (Oct 20, 2011)

And honestly, there has been shots that I missed at a function and be exited to see it, only to see that it's out of focus. It would be great if they had a plug-in for Photoshop that could do this! seriously, I would buy it.

0 upvotes
Paul Callahan
By Paul Callahan (Oct 20, 2011)

But someone beat them to market...

http://www.raytrix.de/

http://www.raytrix.de/index.php/R5_en.html

1 upvote
lylejk
By lylejk (Oct 20, 2011)

I also know about Ratrix, but they, needless to say, charge way too much for their technology albeit their software is a little bit more advanced the Lytro's. Ratrix is way outside what any consumer would ever pay for imo. :)

0 upvotes
blacklion
By blacklion (Oct 20, 2011)

Not sexy. This camera looks like cool party gadget. And it is priced less than last trendy mobile phone (I'm speaking about real price of phones, not sponsored one, which is norm in USA, but doesn't exists in many other countries). So, Lytro seems to find proper market niche -- they could not offer (maybe, here should be added "yet", I don't know) resolution, IQ, etc., for prosumers and above, so they does what they does -- fun, sexy thing for reasonable high price (ok, for people, who spend $800-$600 for iPhone 4S, and there are a lot of them) for hipsters, clubbers, etc. BTW, Mac OS X-only software is not a problem in such case too.
I will be surprised, if they will not sell this as fast as they could produce it, for some time. And, maybe, it gives them money for more DPReivew-commenters-friendly camera :)

0 upvotes
iae aa eia
By iae aa eia (Oct 20, 2011)

Some people here are completely blind. This is for sure the biggest change in the history of photography after the film era. The digital capture was only the beginning. Man, now you can focus a shot after taken, haha! That's amazingly amazing! Seriouly, man! Haha! Wow, no words...

Don't think I don't understand about photography. I understand, and very much, artistically and technically, and also appreciate all that stuff like manual focusing, 'shuttering', 'aperturing', 'whiting', 'ISOing', etc.; working on the camera, but, to think it's going to be little thing, is total blindness and huge ignorance.

5 upvotes
Paul Callahan
By Paul Callahan (Oct 20, 2011)

Yeah, Foveon was supposed to be the biggest change in photography too.

LOL

6 upvotes
iae aa eia
By iae aa eia (Oct 20, 2011)

I imagine they can be very useful to shoot fast action at a long distance and under not so good light to publish on the internet. There you have a lens with no need to focus, large aperture and no shutter lag. No more power to have the camera activating motors and focusing systems all the time. Less mechanics.

0 upvotes
T3
By T3 (Oct 20, 2011)

Paul C: Foveon was just another sensor. Lytro is an entirely new way of focusing. No more backfocus issues, no more focus delay, no more focusing on the wrong spot, no more "great image, but it's slightly out of focus". This is truly revolutionary.

10 upvotes
B64
By B64 (Oct 20, 2011)

T3: revolutionary it surely is. But...

The images are only HD quality, so forget about creating large prints. Plus you're always shooting at F/2, so forget about getting the whole scene in focus in one view.

The camera (and thus the long lens) is very very small, so something has to give... looking at the picture gallery on their website, none of the images are sharp, no matter at which point you want to focus. Focusing also seems to happen in steps so you can't put the focus distance on exactly the right point (try the butterfly: you can't get the wing tip in focus).

So the only thing this solves is the focus delay (though the AF in my camera is way quicker than my mouse clicking !!!). All other problems still exist. On the website at least, maybe the desktop application allows more freedom on where to focus. Sharpness remains an issue though...

So yes, the technique is highly revolutionary, but the way it's presented now only makes it a (very sleek) gizmo.

1 upvote
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Oct 20, 2011)

@B64
"Plus you're always shooting at F/2, so forget about getting the whole scene in focus in one view. "

You are really not getting this, are you? It captures the entire 3D scene data (at least that is the claim), such that they can even recompose the PoV. So deciding what is in focus, and how much is in focus, DoF, is all open to play.

0 upvotes
J1000
By J1000 (Oct 20, 2011)

B64: The same software that allows them to selectively focus on one plane could easily put the entire photo in focus. But that isn't a good way to demonstrate the Lytro's post-focus capability is it? :) I bet their web viewers will gravitate toward selective focusing, while other software (3rd party perhaps?) will let you output conventional images with more focusing parameters. Supposedly Lytro has even made holographic images from their snaps (because you can supposedly shift your POV a little bit). Wow!!

0 upvotes
captainzeb
By captainzeb (Oct 22, 2011)

Check out the Terms of Use. A couple of the legal bits are potentially an issue, according to one pro whose review I read:

"Modifications, derivative works and printing for non-personal use (for example, commercial or political) require our explicit prior consent."
"Unlisted pictures can be viewed and shared by the user who uploaded them and by others who know the link to the pictures"
"but only by using our light field picture player or another player approved by us."
"Display the Lytro trademark with such content."

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
captainzeb
By captainzeb (Oct 22, 2011)

Some smart techie will come up with a hack program to save/store/view/edit the pics on my own PC...and then, of course, there will be a Facebook app to do it, and an Appstore app... you get the picture.

0 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Oct 20, 2011)

After looking at all the sample pictures and playing around with them..Im much more excited about the Iphone 4s camera.

Here is how "light field" works from my point of view:
You use a 16Mp sensor and output a 1Mp image that you can refocus. But its never very sharp to begin with.
Maybe this type of technology will have some success in the industrial field but not much in the consumer market.

Main reason is that you have to trade IQ for the focus function.

4 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (Oct 20, 2011)

Rewind a few years when autofocus first started. It was a big carbuncle bolted on the side of a lens. Eventually Minolta put it in the camera body. There was one autofocus spot in the centre of the viewfinder.
Then there were 3, then 5, 9, 11, 51 focus points, and more. Now it can track erratic movement across the frame, keep a moving object sharp at 10 fps, and work in near darkness.
The same for everything else. Sure, in 10 year's time this camera will be vastly improved - just imagine, HD movies, multi-megapixel quality stills, all able to display 3-D feature, change the point-of-view. Sure, today it is still 10 years behind that place.

2 upvotes
photo nuts
By photo nuts (Oct 20, 2011)

I enjoy innovative work of science.

I think the Lyto camera is rather cute.

Not useful to me. Won't be getting one. Expensive.

But it's cute. :)

0 upvotes
WirenL
By WirenL (Oct 20, 2011)

One could wish for shutter speed control to enable taking long exposures (to a degree) like capturing a nice waterfall scenes... or something..

One could also hope that they'll let you use a different workflow than proprietary software.... but you get what you get.

I see this as a great pocket cam to take during family outings where you don't want to take an SLR rig, i'll save my normal camera for my artistic stuff and maybe pocket one of these gizmachies around for use during simple family shot times that I don't care about sharing on FB and the like.

Neat tech, simple and compact and smart with the constant f2 lens.

1 upvote
tokyojerry
By tokyojerry (Oct 20, 2011)

There will always be the critics on any new emerging technology. Just like when 35mm film became reality and every one said, no way in those days. So be it here. I believe in the potential of this emerging technology beyond what some see as just gimmickry. First and foremost, simplicity. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication (thank you, Leonardo). I believe this technology will evolve, and eventually find it's way into mainstream camera technology. Many pioneers and inventors in history had to take flak and criticism before ultimately reaching success. But perservance ultimately brings success. Vinyl records (and audio cassettes, ugh!) gave way to audio CDs, the list goes on. Whoever thought Apple would have any chance in the overly crowded mobile phone business? The rest is history.

1 upvote
JustShane
By JustShane (Oct 20, 2011)

For *less* than 400 dollars, you can get a Rebel XS from the Canon CLP program that comes with a kit lens. Increase the budget another $100 dollars and you've now earned yourself a 50mm 1.8. (Heck, I got mine used for $60!)

I know, I know, we are talking about two different markets here, but still...

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
JeffS7444
By JeffS7444 (Oct 20, 2011)

Some people would complain about their talking dog speaking in the third person ! This is Blade Runner technology. No idea what it will eventually be used for, but it seems like a fundamental rethink about how images are captured, and in some ways a bigger shift than wet glass plates to CCD. The actual product is a shiny toy of limited capabilities. I'm not too concerned about being able to refocus my photos in post processing, I'm thinking about the fact that these photos contain 3D data, and that it works with a single lens. No idea how I will use these features but kudos to Lytro for putting it out there.

6 upvotes
NoCISC
By NoCISC (Oct 20, 2011)

Haha....good one about the dog. In a similar vein. Getting some people to accept new things is like trying to teach a pig to sing; it's a waste of your time and it annoys the pig.

0 upvotes
SW Anderson
By SW Anderson (Oct 20, 2011)

I've been comfortable shooting several form factors and sizes of camera over the years. Classic rangefinder and SLR suit me best.

Maybe it's just shock of the new, but the Lytro design leaves me cold. Sort of like holding a salt shaker at an awkward angle, but without a nice taper. Aesthetically, I'm enough of a traditionalist to prefer a camera that looks like cameras have traditionally looked. As for practicalities, judging by the photo of a woman looking at the viewing screen, this camera will take us back to the skimpy/squinty mini-LCD days of about eight years ago. For $400.

Ex post facto focusing is nifty technology. But it appears there are limits on it effective range — probably to within depth of field. So, it appears it's not hard to record images that include elements whose sharpness can't be adjusted after the fact.

I look forward to some nitty-gritty reviews. If they're good, maybe the design will grow on me. For now, I'm kind of underwhelmed and disappointed.

0 upvotes
tkpenalty
By tkpenalty (Oct 20, 2011)

I don't know how people can go 'this isn't for people who want to create art' here. Being able to have whatever you want in/focus/out of focus surely would let you do something like multiple shallow depth of fields within a single image; is this not creative/arty?

We haven't been able to do such 'focus bracketing' within one shot before.

1 upvote
deep7
By deep7 (Oct 20, 2011)

Brilliant! Maybe more gimmick than truly useful right now but, hey, this is the first one out there and it couldn't be simpler. Hope it does well for them.

0 upvotes
Kenneth Margulies
By Kenneth Margulies (Oct 20, 2011)

I see a lot of negative comments, and am disappointed that people who like photography would not be supportive of a totally new way to take pictures. This is a new technology that is still first generation. Isn't the potential of this technology of interest to anyone? It's like film photographers, when looking at early digital cameras, saying that the digital technology is just for gadget freaks. This is cool and it could have a decent future...

3 upvotes
tkpenalty
By tkpenalty (Oct 20, 2011)

photographers are full of pride/ego usually; they don't like it when something else can do more than what they have.

3 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Oct 20, 2011)

The big difference is that film photographers said nothing of the sort. Even from the first, digital cameras did something useful to justify their insanely high (in the early days) prices. They permitted rapid transmission of images from the site of newsworthy events. Prices dropped, and other useful features just multiplied (instant image reviews, ability to change ISO without having to change film) etc.

Light field cameras literally have no practical application beyond "gadget freaks".

1 upvote
erikvw
By erikvw (Oct 20, 2011)

"Light field cameras literally have no practical application beyond "gadget freaks"."

With a few years to mature the sensor, can you not imagine the cost savings on lenses? No AF motor? Far fewer moving parts? How much would you pay for a 8x optical zoom f2.0 constant lens? A hell of a lot more than the price of this camera for sure.

3 upvotes
B64
By B64 (Oct 20, 2011)

Every new technology is initially only for gadget freaks (or should we use the marketing term 'early adopters'?). The reason is simple: prices on new technology is initially so high that only gearheads would think of buying it. This was true of televisions, (personal) computers, mobile phones, digital cameras, and so on...

And it's also true for this Lytro cam: the image quality itself is not very good (the images on their own website are very soft, to put it mildly) and output resolution is very low to todays standards.

A $100 compact makes better pictures at a larger size without the need to post-process. You only miss the ability to focus afterwards. If you want to pay 300 bucks just to be able to do that: fine, but I think most people may find that a bit steep.

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Oct 21, 2011)

erikvw, who said that there's "No AF motor?"

The camera can only refocus over an approximately 2 stop range. It still needs to focus into the general neighborhood. Not a problem at the wide angle 35mm equivalent setting, but at the 280mm telephoto setting, you're talking about a DOF of under a foot at 10 feet, and then being able to refocus to a 3 inch DOF anywhere within that foot. You still need a focus motor if your subject is at 8 feet, or 12 feet, let alone 3 feet, or infinity.

0 upvotes
millipz
By millipz (Oct 21, 2011)

No, the fact that you're capturing a light-field means that your recoverable DOF is much larger than any traditional camera. See the guy's thesis (linked from their website) for the interesting explanation.

Comment edited 39 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Robert Hoy
By Robert Hoy (Oct 20, 2011)

Remember all, that the selling factor of a new high tech gadget is often novelty. Some people like having something no one else has or has even heard about.

0 upvotes
chekist
By chekist (Oct 20, 2011)

Yes, it is easy to be caught up on resolution specs, but it is equally easy to get caught up on some irrelevant technical feature and decide that it is the ONE for which all else has to be sacrificed.

I am looking at the Lytro images on the web and find them 100% non-inspiring. Of course, at $500 it is not in the league with pro-DSLRs; but even in comparison to something like Fuji X10 samples I find images flat, unsharp, with high degree of CA and refocusing does not produce sharp results on distant objects.

On top of that I bet it will not shine in many other respects, such as high ISO.

Yes, once in a blue moon I would love to go back and refocus the image. But how much am I willing to sacrifice for that?

I think it is a very cool concept to play with. And tech head in me would love to play with it. But from photography standpoint, it is hard for me to envision the immediate contribution.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Demmos
By Demmos (Oct 20, 2011)

There is no mention here that availability of the camera is only to the US market on initial launch. Very disappointing for the world of great photographers outside that single market...

http://lytro.zendesk.com/entries/20552217-can-i-buy-a-lytro-camera-even-if-i-don-t-live-in-the-usa

1 upvote
wildbild
By wildbild (Oct 20, 2011)

Ok, as far as I understand this product now it's all about the wow factor the viewer of the final pictures has by focusing around in the picture.
I think it will be recognized as a lovely effect/idea and people will do it once or twice—then get the idea… and walk away. And therefore it is a really expensive toy.

1 upvote
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Oct 20, 2011)

Agree 100%.

0 upvotes
Yod
By Yod (Oct 20, 2011)

Image quality is pretty bad.Unacceptable for a 400$ camera.Yod

0 upvotes
Button Pusher
By Button Pusher (Oct 19, 2011)

Why is this shaped like a box of fig newtons and what is the bloody resolution of the image? The ergonomics of this wondercam need a lot of help.

3 upvotes
leafinsectman
By leafinsectman (Oct 19, 2011)

Well of course it'd get a lot of hate around here but I've had regular people who aren't all that into photography (some who confessed that they're absolutely terrible at taking photos) come up and tell me that they're really excited about this. I don't know if this is for me because I haven't seen/read much about it at this point but I can't knock technological advancement. It's kinda like criticising the first caveman to venture out of the cave and explore the outside world.

3 upvotes
B64
By B64 (Oct 20, 2011)

I think that's the kind of people that this camera is primarily aimed for. But then again - going back to @wildbild's reaction above - how many will buy the camera and still be using it in a year's time?

People who aren't all that into photography usually don't really want to care about focus - as long as all the faces of their friends and family are in focus, and that's usually taken care of by face-detection. They are used to taking a picture with their phone, upload it to Facebook and be done with it. This camera gives them a lot more work - how many buyers will stick with it after the novelty has faded?

0 upvotes
Rooru S
By Rooru S (Oct 19, 2011)

Resolution?

0 upvotes
Midnighter
By Midnighter (Oct 19, 2011)

Guys... for goodness sake.... just google research plenoptic cameras:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plenoptic_camera

The effect works like this:
http://www.tgeorgiev.net/Gallery/

In addition you can get a small amout of lateral shifting (3D stereo effect) not simply focus control, but I dont know if this camera/software will implement that.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Oct 20, 2011)

They claim they will have that software feature in 2012. Sometime after they have a PC version of the software. They're launching Mac only.

0 upvotes
WT21
By WT21 (Oct 19, 2011)

I just don't get it. Out of maybe 300 pictures, I might think "Hmmm... this shot would be better if the other (foreground/background) was in focus" and then the lytro technology would be helpful. But a lot of times, I can just take two pictures on the scene with a different focus point.

Looking at their samples -- who wants a picture where the plants are in focus, but the spider blurred? The spider is the obvious subject. Most of their samples have just one obvious subject. Maybe the surfer and the waves, you could go either way, but with, what, 2 extra seconds, you could have two shots with each in focus.

I'm not saying it won't sell. Gimmicks always sell. I just don't think it will have much commercial once the "oh, wow, cool" factor wears off.

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Oct 19, 2011)

I think the idea isn't so much a photo where the plants are in focus and the spider is blurred, it's a photo where the person viewing it can explore the scene, rather than being presented with a single, static image.

8 upvotes
RickPhotoMusic
By RickPhotoMusic (Oct 20, 2011)

This isn't a camera for a photographer who is trying to create art. This is for the parents that take pictures of their 2 year old and their current camera misses focus all the time. Now they will be able to have their child always in focus no matter what.

1 upvote
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Oct 20, 2011)

Actually, Rick, that's not who it's for, at all.

It only can refocus within the dept of field of the smallest aperture determined by the spread of the plenoptic "rays", which, as best I can calculate on this camera, is f8 on that lens, equivalent to f45 on 35mm. Any conventional camera can get the "always in focus no matter what" effect simply by stopping a similar, real lens down to f8, and get better resolution (even with diffraction) and better low light ability.

It really is for artists, wannabees, facebookers, etc. who want to make "oooh, look at that" selective focus images. Honest.

0 upvotes
mvxray
By mvxray (Oct 20, 2011)

I think it is great, finally a camera that is always (!) in focus. I have an SLR and a point and shoot camera and I won't replace either of them but I will get this camera because this size camera you can easily carry around and when I take some quick pictures of the kids when they play. I don't have to worry about the focus. I have taken so many pictures which were out of focus especially with the point and shoot camera. And if I really like the image I can even get 3D it or play around with the depth of focus. That's the beauty with camera all the information about the scene are in the raw image. You cant do that with any other camera. So it is not just a gimmick!

0 upvotes
Alex Notpro
By Alex Notpro (Oct 19, 2011)

I see lots of potential here. The "put everything in focus" feature is probably far more useful than the novelty "choose the focus later" feature. Price and resolution are already better than any digital camera sold in the late '90s.

Now, combine this with a fish-eye lens, Adobe Deblur, and a 20-stop DR sensor and you'll have solved ALL major defects in amateur snapshots: bad framing, motion blur, bad exposure, and bad focus ;-)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Oct 20, 2011)

There is no ""put everything in focus" feature". Any camera with a similar sized sensor can put just as much of "everything" in focus by stopping down to an aperture equivalent to the plenoptic "ray" spread, which for this particular camera, appears to be about f8 (f45 equivalent on 35mm).

The one and only feature really is the "choose focus later" feature.

Combine it with Adobe deblur and you've got two features that don't really work, in one camera. ;)

1 upvote
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (Oct 19, 2011)

Wow, with this crowd I am sure they will complain of back focus issues.

6 upvotes
rudymnv
By rudymnv (Oct 19, 2011)

I think full potential of plenoptic cameras is in robotics, (hence that pair of those would be ideal robot eyes), Since every image has depth information, smart ai algorithms will have better representation of 3D world.

5 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Oct 19, 2011)

Sorry...all that comes to mind when I see this is the Sigma SD1 Wood Edition.

1 upvote
deletedGregR1
By deletedGregR1 (Oct 19, 2011)

ok, so in that physical size and with a constant f/2, the lens is obviously a really wide-angle piece. and with a wide angle, even at f/2, nearly everything is in focus anyways. just look at their sample pics - HUGE depth of field, especially evident in the golfer pic. i wouldn't be surprised if they cheaped out and simply shot an image at f/8 and then "defocus" in software. hmm, i smell something only slightly more legit than a scam.

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Oct 19, 2011)

The lens is significantly larger than the F1.8-2.5 example on the Olympus XZ-1, which has a comparatively large (for a compact), 1/1.63" sensor. So your assumption that it's really a wide-angle is completely unfounded.

Have a look at the cutaway slide of the camera, in our overview - it makes up around two thirds of the length of the camera, making it nearly 3 inches long. Again, larger than even the fast-zoom compacts I can think of.

0 upvotes
deletedGregR1
By deletedGregR1 (Oct 19, 2011)

my assumption is based on simple limitations - the front lens is only maybe 35mm diameter (camera is 41mm square), so at best the longest focal length is 70mm, and being an 8x "zoom" it's what, a 9-70 lens or so? that's best-case. other than that, the depth-of-field is stupidly big in all the images anyways! a lens that has a "35mm equivalent" focal length of 100mm at f/2 should have HUGE background blur. and NONE of the sample pics have it. so - the sample pics were obviously NOT taken at f/2 unless they were maybe taken at the widest setting. and then, zooming is merely cropping.

0 upvotes
JensR
By JensR (Oct 19, 2011)

Greg: it is "280mm equivalent" but not "f/2 equivalent" - simply f/2.
If we go with the front element of 35mm diameter and f/2, we get a focal length of 70mm. Meaning a crop factor of 4 to reach "280mm equivalent". The 70/2 lens will thus behave like a 280/8 on FF would. Not too bad. I do however think that this overestimates the sensor size. If you look at zoom lenses ending at about 300mm equivalent, you will notice that they are actually slower than focal length divided by front element diameter. The crop factor will therefore probably be larger than 4.

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Oct 19, 2011)

Greg, remember that "effective" aperture, as in the ability to achieve shallow DOF, scales with the equivalent focal length. I did the same exercise you did...

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1018&message=39633412

Except I got a 26mm diameter lens (from a screen capture), which put the lens at 52mm at the long end for f2.0. Since Lytro calls that a 280mm equivalent, they've got about a 5.4x crop factor, or an f11 equivalent lens.

That's the shallowest DOF that they can have. At tele focal lengths, it's OK, but at the 35m or 50mm equivalent "normal", it's nothing to write home about.

I did a bit more math, and found that you get about 2 stops of DOF control, you can have the whole f11, or you can have an f45 equivalent anywhere you want in that f11. Again, a lot at the normal end, and useful at the tele end, too.

0 upvotes
mvxray
By mvxray (Oct 20, 2011)

What you say is not correct. The image captured is defocused as you would expect for an f/2 lens but the image reconstructed from that has an (virtually) infinite depth of focus but it still has the information about the defocused blurring and thus information about the distance of objects and hence is able to reconstruct a 3D image of it. That's how the technology works. So no scam. Google Plenoptic Camera and you can find out how it works. To understand it in detail there is quite a bit of advanced optic (physics) and maths involved this technology is not as straight forward as simple digital imaging!

0 upvotes
OnYourSix
By OnYourSix (Dec 3, 2011)

This technology reminds me of how a slab of MR images are captured and "focused" afterward along the x. y or Z axis according to the desired view. In other words, all data is captured and selected data is presented in a certain image plane. The data not presented is still there if one wants to present in another image plane.

Forget the present product, I see this as a fundamental building block of future applications.

0 upvotes
eav2k
By eav2k (Oct 19, 2011)

When's the movie camera version going to be available?

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Oct 19, 2011)

2016-2018.

You need to stream the whole 11mp at 30 frames/sec, that's 330mp/s. And you have to do that in a low cost camera not made by someone with the economy of scale of Nikon, Canon, Sony, or Casio. So, another 4-6 years should do it.

That's assuming that Lytro survives in the market that long. I'm betting against it.

0 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Oct 19, 2011)

I bet they took those promotion pictures above with a canon/Nikon.

0 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Oct 19, 2011)

Of course they did :)

0 upvotes
Ivanaker
By Ivanaker (Oct 19, 2011)

Phase One backs just like canon or nikon if they are serious.

1 upvote
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (Oct 19, 2011)

Sinar medium format. ;)

Remember, they've got one of those hanging around from the first Lytro prototype.

0 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Oct 19, 2011)

That was a surprise. They dont even care to make it look like a camera. And they dont even care to make it look like it is worth the high price. It simply looks like a toy. Hmmmm .. is that briliant? Or a big mistake?

0 upvotes
Prime_Lens
By Prime_Lens (Oct 19, 2011)

Video demo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm3_sbA01zI

0 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Oct 19, 2011)

Hmmmmm .... zoom ? How do you zoom the thing ? There are only two buttons. On and shutter. No settings. No nothing. So ... how do you zoom ?

EDIT: I have now seen the video. You can zoom. You do it with gestures. So - forget my question :)

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Trollshavethebestcandy
By Trollshavethebestcandy (Oct 19, 2011)

They should make it round and manual zoom like an old telescope. That would have been cool and a nice form factor.

1 upvote
shlam
By shlam (Oct 19, 2011)

Looks like this could be a very nice foolproof snapshot camera. Where else can you get 8x optical zoom with constant f2 aperture with zero shutter lag? Small sensor with ability for shallow DOF? The resolution is probably less than 1MP, but should be OK if only sharing over web or printing 4x6.

There seems to be few costly mechanical parts to go wrong - no AF motors, no aperture (I understand it's always shot wide open?), maybe electronic shutter also?

Didn't mention whether it is stabilized; I presume it is for the 8x zoom?

0 upvotes
Tim F 101
By Tim F 101 (Oct 19, 2011)

Pluses:

- If it scales up, a Hasselblad-size Lytro should put out 2D JPEGs that look about as good as a (?) 5 MP digicam. As minor as that sounds, people who realize the full potential of the affordable 'toy' cams should be able to make some pretty impressive stuff.
- We honestly do not know the full creative potential of this technology. Really.
- Any maker who takes a huge chance to introduce a breakthrough technology to the camera market deserves some encouragement. Even deserving tech often lands with a splat (Canon's pellicle mirror gamble), but we are unquestionably better off with it out there.
- An Adobe reader-like plenoptic file plugin could really take off if you can embed it in Facebook.

Minuses:

- Eventually you have to turn the cool plenoptic file into a 2D image. The current model's output will underperform 99% of cell phones.
- I think they grossly overestimate how many consumers will try something this weird and new for that much money.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
shlam
By shlam (Oct 19, 2011)

Unfortunately, I think you are right about the cost. They will probably fail commercially, but maybe get bought by Apple to put in their iPhone X....

And yes, to get good quality, you probably need a 100MP sensor for this type of camera.

0 upvotes
ianimal
By ianimal (Oct 19, 2011)

Interesting technology and product. But must wait to see reviews and more samples before I understand and can say if this is something for me. The lens got some amazing spec. also, I guess the sensor most be small. If not the lens should be much biger? I am not sure I would offer 20+ MB images online, and usually I shoot landscape where everything is in focus so... Also, a photographer I believe want an image to show something, so small DOF and what you have selected to be in sharp focus is an important factor. So I am not sure all photographers would find this kind of images the right to use. Like an artis who paint a picture, that's it. That's what the artist want you to see. So a photographer also want the image to maybe be "just right", not something the viewer should "mess" around with. Don't get me wrong, I like this camera. Very interesting! But can't replace everything of course.

0 upvotes
Trollshavethebestcandy
By Trollshavethebestcandy (Oct 19, 2011)

Looks like those picture viewer souvenirs they used to sell at amusement parks.
Needs a head mount with electronic viewfinder and cable release.

0 upvotes
Duane & Shirleen
By Duane & Shirleen (Oct 19, 2011)

I wonder if you can set a picture to your favorite focus and then output it some way that you can print it or ... while I'm wishing can you ever convert any of the output to standard jpg or other file type that can be worked on in a standard photo editing software?

0 upvotes
Jakubo
By Jakubo (Oct 19, 2011)

I'm always happy to see some innovation. Now let's wait and see how far can the technology be developed.

I'm not sure whether refocusing the pictures after is what i need, but if it's gonna be made into some fine tune image stabilization that will be a win.

Certainly wouldn't buy first model although the price tag is not that insane.

0 upvotes
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