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Lytro unlocks Wi-Fi with firmware update, introduces iOS app

By dpreview staff on Jun 19, 2013 at 21:37 GMT

Lytro has released a firmware update that enables the Wi-Fi chips inside its 8GB and 16GB light field cameras. The San Fransisco-based company has also announced a new iOS companion app called Lytro Mobile, which allows you to browse images from the camera on an iOS smartphone or iPod Touch. Replicating some of the functionality of Lytro's existing desktop app, the mobile app allows you to refocus and change the perspective of your images and share the 'living pictures' via social media. The Lytro Mobile app also allows you to create an animated GIFs, which can be shared easily via email or SMS. 

The Lytro Light Field Camera comes in 8GB and 16GB capacities and features a 35-280mm equivalent, constant F2 lens. It's 11 megaray sensor captures photos that can be refocused after shooting.

Interestingly, Lytro's light field cameras have included the hardware required for Wi-Fi communication since their launch, but support was not enabled in the cameras' original firmware. We reviewed the light field camera (pre firmware update) last year and you can read that review here.

via Engadget

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Comments

Total comments: 50
andix
By andix (10 months ago)

I was browsing the Lytro forums on dpreview when...

wait, what?

0 upvotes
vladimir vanek
By vladimir vanek (10 months ago)

"Lytro has released a firmware update that enables the Wi-Fi chips inside its 8GB and 16GB light field cameras." - this kind of statements sounds a bit strange to me. They always present it like an advantage for the user. But hey, why don't they just admit that they've been selling not fully functional products and say something like "we were so eager to release the cam to the market that we weren't able to enable all its functions at the time of the release"??? Is it some kind of fashion to release unfinished products, such as those M****$oft OS' that need a week of updating after installation? And they act as if it was absolutely OK. But, it's like selling a car with V4 engine for V6 money and then releasing an "update" that will unlock 2 more cylinders.... WTF??

1 upvote
NetMage
By NetMage (10 months ago)

Selling a car with a V4 engine for any price and then saying we found more power later sounds like a great deal to me!

No one told you to buy that V4 car at any price, and you have no basis to assume the Lytro's price is strongly (or even weakly) related to manufacturing costs - in fact, most quality things aren't related at all.

Or do you want to accuse Leica of ripping people off?

Comment edited 21 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
jaygeephoto
By jaygeephoto (10 months ago)

Yes. And I hear that Chrysler is going to release a really good and competitive new small car in the form of a firmware release for the Dart will make it almost as good as your average Corolla. Stay tuned.

0 upvotes
Tape5
By Tape5 (10 months ago)

Controlling focus after taking a picture is like eating everything on the table first and vomiting what you don't like later.

10 upvotes
vadims
By vadims (10 months ago)

OMG... Did you ever CROP your picture?

4 upvotes
T3
By T3 (10 months ago)

Yeah, like no one *ever* makes any modifications, adjustments, edits or crops to their images *after* they've taken the shot! Right. As far as I'm concerned, controlling focus after taking the shot is merely another post-processing option. Yes, it's another option for "post", which is something you do to an image *after* taking a picture. Focus, crop, straighten, de-keystone, adjust saturation, adjust contrast, clone out stuff...all just examples of things one might do to a image "later" after taking a picture. You might call it "vomiting", but the rest of us just call it post-processing or image editing.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
MrGreen
By MrGreen (10 months ago)

Go back to your cave you old curmudgeon

1 upvote
NetMage
By NetMage (10 months ago)

I assume you are taking your pictures only with slide film?

0 upvotes
jaygeephoto
By jaygeephoto (10 months ago)

Yes. Photos from this unfortunate mutated monstrosity are rather bilious. This stuff should stay in the realm of surveillance equipment where it belongs.

0 upvotes
Peter Galbavy
By Peter Galbavy (10 months ago)

Maybe I've not been keeping up with Lytro but the only thing that is going to win them and their technology market share is if they can get large content carriers like Facebook and Google to support their file format "natively".

1 upvote
areichow
By areichow (10 months ago)

I assume their software spits out JPEGs - boom, they have support.

0 upvotes
Button Pusher
By Button Pusher (10 months ago)

30x20 pixel JPGs... awe inspiring size!

0 upvotes
NetMage
By NetMage (10 months ago)

Uh ten times that size (though still way too small!)...

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

there are many interesting ideas like this.
interesting at first and soon becomes yet another boring failure.
nevertheless some one has to try it. better some one tries it for us.

1 upvote
igorek7
By igorek7 (10 months ago)

One of the smart businessmen, A.Levie recently said: We're all on the unending quest to find the space between "The world isn't ready for it yet" and "You're too late." In case of the wide field (plenoptic) camera concept, now is the moment. The technology is quickly being pushing forward by Lytro, Pelican Imaging, Heptagon, Toshiba and others, which are already offering new plenoptic devices. It's, IMHO, hardly a failure.

Comment edited 48 seconds after posting
5 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (10 months ago)

Technically, Pellican and Heptagon are synthetic aperture systems, a lot different than a "light field" (not "wide field") camera.

Pelican is very clever in that it applies a "spatial multiplicity" technique to the "cheapest of the cheap" cameras, the under a buck "dot" cameras built for $39 "disposable" phones, front cameras in $59 "no child left behind" tablets, and $9 webcams.

Lytro is the total opposite, their concept requires expensive, large high-mp sensors, and large, expensive lenses. At a time when camera phones are decimating teh p&s market, they're pushing a technology that is unfriendly to embedding in a phone.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (10 months ago)

ha, it does look like handie-talkie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCR-536).

0 upvotes
Timo Voivalin
By Timo Voivalin (10 months ago)

I like the idea that if everything is in focus (and the exact point is selectable afterwards) then there is no need for complicated AF systems. That means fast, simple photography when in hurry to get THE shot.

Only if IQ would be similar to normal camera...

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (10 months ago)

I like that idea, too.

Too bad it didn't happen. The lytro concept requires an AF system, and the relatively fast lens needed insures it's a fairly complex, slow AF system.

First time I tried it, I couldn't quite believe how slow it was.

2 upvotes
vadims
By vadims (10 months ago)

Arguments like "if I want the whole thing sharp, I'll do it that way" remind me those against multitasking when it just started to appear... Yes, there's a lot to dislike about Lytro as a *camera*, but attack the very ability of controlling the focus after shot? Give me a break.

You never know where things like this will end up. Space adventure movies might fail one after the other, but then there comes Star Wars -- that same genre done *right*, and all of a sudden everyone says they always knew space adventures are greatest thing since sliced bread (at least from the box office perspective).

The exact technology used by Lytro might as well be a dead end. Their form factor most definitely is :-) But that's the only game in town so far, anyway. So let's wait till (if...) the big boys roll out something of their own...

6 upvotes
Guidenet
By Guidenet (10 months ago)

Heheh. no, you give me a break. One, this seems to me a solution to a non-existing problem, controlling focus points after the fact.

Two, we aren't talking about space movies. We're talking about cameras and what may or may not be an innovation. Trying to create a silly analogy to Hollywood just goes to show how people abuse the concept of an analogy. Try looking up analogy and see what I mean. The comparison of two things does not in any way prove the comparison of two entirely different and dissimilar things. That is not the purpose of an analogy.

An analogy's purpose in this sphere is to explain a very complex subject by creating a similar but simpler subject that can be more easily understood. It's not designed to show comparisons or prove anything whatsoever between to entirely dissimilar subjects and always fails when tried. heheh Star Wars forsooth!

2 upvotes
vadims
By vadims (10 months ago)

> "Trying to create a silly analogy to Hollywood just goes to show how people abuse the concept of an analogy."

You're right, I should not have used an analogy -- it's just too complicated a concept for some... OK, I'll use something simpler this time: an example. Even two: autofocus and autoexposure. These two features had been mocked as unnecessary gimmicks for a "real" camera, and look at where we are today... <sigh>

(One more time: I am *not* saying post-focus is there to stay; I just find it hilarious how... err, over-confidently some people attack new technologies. On the other hand, it's such a fun to read their comments... So keep'em coming ;-)

4 upvotes
sunhorse
By sunhorse (10 months ago)

@Guidenet

As a corporate photographer, you might not see any applications for this technology. But do you seriously think there might not be a whole raft of applications outside of professional and hobby photography where this would be useful? Scientific uses come to mind. How about forensics or surveillance. I can begin to see some real-world uses for plenoptics.

1 upvote
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (10 months ago)

Oddly enough, as someone who used to design scientific and industrial cameras, "forensics" and "surveillance" don't come to mind, at all. Surveillance is all about covertness, resolution, low light capabilities, and dynamic range. Lytro is larger, lower resolution, and poorer in dynamic range than anything else in its price class. Forensics is hyperspectral, multispectral, macro, and high resolution techniques, and again, the lightfield design is a hindrance, not a help.

So, yes, I "seriously think there might not be a whole raft of applications".

2 upvotes
NetMage
By NetMage (10 months ago)

So none of you have ever seen anyone take out of focus pictures - no family members, no relatives, no neighbors? Impressive.

No one thinks single exposure focus stacking will be worthwhile? No one needs more DOF for close-up shots? Amazing.

If the next generation Lytro quadruples the resolution, will it still be worthless?

1 upvote
Spectro
By Spectro (10 months ago)

still waiting on a fire sale for these, so I can pick one up with wifi of course.

0 upvotes
Simon97
By Simon97 (10 months ago)

I like the form factor of this camera because it allows for discreet shooting. Lytro should produce an "ordinary camera" version of this without the light field technology for people who are not interested in it.

0 upvotes
Digitall
By Digitall (10 months ago)

ehehe How they deceive the people! Ok, we're not selling these cameras enough, we will unlock the Wi-Fi to convince the customer to buy this brick.

3 upvotes
straylightrun
By straylightrun (10 months ago)

Rumour has it that Lytro will next announce a light field camera which will function as a paperweight. Several months after the release they might release firmware updates that unlock 'camera mode', 'expandable memory storage' and 'constant aperture' capabilities!

3 upvotes
AngryCorgi
By AngryCorgi (10 months ago)

Hang on folks...the WiFi was in there the whole time and just needed firmware changes to enable it. What if there is a useful camera hidden somewhere in the device too and all we need is some firmware to enable it?? Eureka!!

7 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (10 months ago)

"Just"? If you use off-the-shelf hardware for your processor, having WiFi there costs you nothing. Having to develop firmware and iOS application costs good money. They did it for cameras they already have sold, instead of releasing a "new" camera. What's not to like?

2 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (10 months ago)

Off-the-shelf processors don't normally have WiFi transceivers. Those are complex: a mix of RF power devices and signal processing. Not to mention the filter networks and antenna that don't live on the chipset itself, and the need to design and test all that, as well as the need to get it EMC certified to the requirements of multiple agencies like the FCC.

The parts were expensive, and designing them in was expensive. They wouldn't have spent all that money if there were not plans in place from day one to have the firmware and iOS apps, so what you're seeing is simply Lytro totally blowing the schedule. Being a year late with something they obviously intended to support from day one is "what's not to like".

1 upvote
NetMage
By NetMage (10 months ago)

Complaining about being a year late with something you didn't know would be available and may have never been supported sounds like rotten grapes to me.

Everyone who purchased it got the features advertised, and have since gotten more features, and continue to get more features at no additional cost. And this is worth complaining about???

Sounds like the perfect Android / Samsung customer - just buy a new one for new features!

0 upvotes
Lance W
By Lance W (10 months ago)

I will update the camera and then let it begin collecting dust again. It really is pretty useless. I am kind of amazed they are still in business. How?

2 upvotes
Marek Rucinski
By Marek Rucinski (10 months ago)

This is an example of an interesting practice: put some hardware in the device, for which the user pays (the cost of the wifi chip was included in the price), and then increase the value proposition of the product (by enabling the feature) *after* the product has been sold (!)... or not.

I think this practice is not only dishonest, but also damaging to the client (who pays for a feature he may never see enabled in the end) and therefore should attract attention of relevant regulating bodies.

Sadly, examples of very similar practices start to pop out regularly (uncompressed hdmi in Canon 5d III, cropped hdmi output in Nikon D600), but this seems to be the boldest example to date. In case of Canon/Nikon it's difficult to prove dishonesty, because they can claim genius, and incompetence of their engineers, respectively. Situation here is different, because there are physical chips that were obviously meant to be there from the beginning, but were intentionally not enabled.

1 upvote
privater
By privater (10 months ago)

I have a Sony action camera got the latest firmware to enable 1080/60p recording, previously it only have 1080/30p.

0 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (10 months ago)

I suspect they built this around some standard tablet chipset that included WiFi because it made sense for other reasons. They likely didn't have time to write the firmware to make the WiFi work before the camera release. I don't think they intentionally left it out for any nefarious reasons. They were under pressure to ship the camera, and that was a feature they could defer.

5 upvotes
dara2
By dara2 (10 months ago)

I don't see the problem, as long as the feature was not advertised when it was sold.

0 upvotes
Joseph S Wisniewski
By Joseph S Wisniewski (10 months ago)

"I suspect they built this around some standard tablet chipset that included WiFi"

WiFi is in a separate, relatively expensive chipset, and requires a lot of engineering for things like the antenna. Nobody just tosses in a transceiver and neglects it. You're looking at a simple case of someone totally blowing one of the R&D budgets (money, time, or manageability) for the firmware, apps, or EMC certification.

2 upvotes
Marek Rucinski
By Marek Rucinski (10 months ago)

> dara2

The problem is that 1) the consumer *does pay* for the "hidden" hardware, and all R&D effort necessary to get it working (which may occur after the product ships). No sane company incurs losses to itself. 2) After the product has been sold, it's totally up to the company whether they graciously enable the "hidden" feature or not. They are totally free to decide to scrap the subsequent R&D efforts. In the end, you paid for it already...

In short, the "dishonesty towards the client" part is that the client pays more for a device that could have been cheaper.

Of course what is actually interesting here, is the possibility to alter the product *after* it has been introduced to the market. This allows a company to react to what the competition does *after their product has already shipped*. Cool, isn't it?

Instead of focusing on creating genuinely better products, camera companies seem to be putting lots of efforts in devising sneaky practices of controlling sales.

0 upvotes
dara2
By dara2 (10 months ago)

>Marek<
I completely agree, but no one forced the customer to buy the camera at the price the company asked.
They could just buy something else or keep their money if no equivalent suit them.
If given the specs sheets and the price displayed, the consumers still bought it, then maybe that consumer found the camera useful and worth the price asked (for him).

Still, if a company decides the upgrade or unlock features after the product is sold then why not? “If” I had a 7D: I would be glad with the increased raw buffers it got (no matter why they limited it at first). After all, when I bought it for 1500 usd asked by Canon, I knew the 7D had 'only' 15 frames buffers but I bought anyway. It means to me the 7D was worth the price tag, even with 15 frames buffer.

If Lytro sell their device and the consumers thinks it is over expensive (because it has no wifi, or only 6mpx or whatever) then let Lytro fails.

Well that is how I see things, and I apologize for misspelling, grammar,...)

1 upvote
NetMage
By NetMage (10 months ago)

It isn't dishonest to sell an item at a given price with a given set of features.

Honesty has nothing to do with cost or pricing.

0 upvotes
Marek Rucinski
By Marek Rucinski (10 months ago)

> dara2, NetMage

Let's put the (dis)honesty issue aside - you're both right of course and I'm convinced I'm right as well, and furthermore I think that there's no conflict between what we both say (perhaps I just struggle to explain it).

I think the core of what I wanted to point out is that we're witnessing an interesting practice becoming more and more widespread, a practice which demonstrates that the camera companies have wrong priorities from my point of view (these priorities may be right from their point of view though). And that, personally, I don't like this practice becoming widespread.

0 upvotes
reginalddwight
By reginalddwight (10 months ago)

This is an excellent example of a solution in search of a problem.

4 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (10 months ago)

The greatest challenge for this invention is to find a real use for it.

.

9 upvotes
micksh6
By micksh6 (10 months ago)

That Marvell chip they unlocked also supports FM radio. Maybe some day iPhone users will be able to listen local radio through Lytro Wi-Fi

3 upvotes
Guidenet
By Guidenet (10 months ago)

I completely agree. I've really never seen such a useless excuse for a camera. If I want the whole thing sharp, I'll do it that way. If I want the subject sharp, and the rest not sharp, that's the way I intend it. To have it so you can change that afterwards is pure gimmicky, something that is maybe just fun for some once or twice.

Add that to the fact you have to have the image on their site or using their client side software to play the tricks, makes it even more useless. It's basically the same type thing as focus stacking we all currently can do if need be except we merge the entire stack to deepen depth of field.

Someone is in this solely to suck in unknowing investors, I think. It's probably working, too.

5 upvotes
NetMage
By NetMage (10 months ago)

Once they add full DOF capability so you can have focus stacking in one exposure (which will work with old pictures as well), this will start to be more interesting.

Still waiting for a higher resolution model though.

1 upvote
electrophoto
By electrophoto (10 months ago)

still pretty much useless / pointless.
and the UI is a joke.

Comment edited 17 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Total comments: 50