Lytro, maker of the ILLUM light field camera, has announced DepthFX: an update to its Lytro Desktop software. Lytro Desktop is used to edit Lytro's 'Living Pictures', allowing focus, aperture, depth-of-field, and other parameters to be adjusted after capture. DepthFX now allows for exposure, saturation, color, and other edits to be applied to specific areas of an image based on depth. We had the opportunity to sit down with Lytro CEO Jason Rosenthal to talk about what DepthFX brings to Lytro's light field platform.

Lytro Desktop 5.0: Introducing DepthFX

Lytro Desktop 5.0, available December 8, will let users make edits to a depth layer in an image as an alternative to applying edits through masks with traditional imagery. In the example below, depth targeting was used to warm a background while leaving the subject unaltered.

Photoshop users are used to drawing masks around objects to allow certain edits to affect, and not affect, different portions of the image. Imagine selecting portions of the image now based on scene depth, with the ability to fine tune the extent of that depth as well using sliders - an ability we saw when Focus Spread was brought to Lytro Desktop. See a magnified view of the new Masks tool below.

Masks Tool. The Masks tool allows you to target 'Filters' (not shown) to certain areas of the image based off of scene depth. You can even select the extent of the depth targeted by a filter by moving the sliders pictured to adjust the cyan vs. yellow regions. You can even adjust how the filter blends into other depth layers by adjusting the 'falloff', which does exactly what it sounds like: it rolls off the filter as you move outside of the selected depth, to avoid harsh unnatural transitions.

Professionals are wont to targeting particular adjustments to portions of the scene: for example, any time artificial lighting is used to light a subject against an ambient background, targeted color and white balance adjustments are quite useful to correct subject or background color without dramatically affecting the other. For example, one may wish to warm a subject skintone without warming a deep blue sky in the background. Depth-based editing has the potential to make these sorts of edits a breeze. The example at the top of this article, if you remember, attempts to warm the background without affecting the subject.

Lytro Desktop 5.0: Background Replacement

Depth-based editing also allowing for simple background replacement or exposure adjustments to a subject in the foreground while leaving the background alone. It will also allow region-based selection with a radial tool to make localized exposure and color edits to an isolated zone. This can allow for advanced background replacement without the need of a green screen. While the application to stills imagery is neat, one can't help but wonder about the appeal, eventually, for videographers.

Original Background
Replaced Background

Important to note is that these depth-based augment image editing: one can still use other methods to target selections, such as traditional masking or luminosity masks. Depth-based methods simply enhance filters and adjustments by allowing an additional way of targeting adjustments.

A Commitment to Light Field

Our initial reaction to this update, as well as the major camera and software updates announced in July that brought advanced features like phase-detect AF and 'Living Pictures' viewing and interaction in-camera to the platform, is one of admiration: the company seems committed to building the platform and improving an already-shipped hardware product via firmware and software updates. If one thing is clear from speaking to CEO Jason Rosenthal and the Lytro team, it's that Lytro truly believes in the light field platform and the potential it has for both still and video imagery. Rosenthal himself indicates that "by building a powerful Light Field platform... [we've developed] a system that has the ability to expand its capabilities with continued updates."

And speaking of video, Jason indicated that the expertise Lytro has developed in virtual reality (see the recent announced Lytro Immerge platform) and video feeds the updates to the stills platform. Its great to see a company committed to a rather exciting technology, and continually updating its platform, despite the hurdles and challenges of bringing a new way of thinking to a well-established field.

Press Release:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., (Nov. 24, 2015) – Lytro, Inc. is providing users with unparalleled creative control, freedom and interaction with its latest update for Lytro ILLUM. The Lytro Desktop 5.0 update features breakthrough depth editing capabilities that are not currently possible with any other camera on the market. Lytro DepthFX makes chroma keying for background replacement unnecessary and enables depth-based editorial adjustments like exposure, contrast and saturation.

“We’re excited to be able to continue to push the limits of computational imaging and Light Field technology across applications,” said Jason Rosenthal, CEO of Lytro. “By building a powerful Light Field platform, whether for photography or virtual reality, we’re developing a system that has the ability to expand its capabilities with continued updates. These advancements allow artists the ability to create engaging content that meets the needs and advantages of new mediums and technologies.”

The Lytro Desktop 5.0 update for Lytro ILLUM is free and will be available for Windows users on Dec. 8, 2015 at

About Lytro Desktop 5.0 

The Lytro DepthFX tool allows for selective editorial changes to be made based on the depth information captured in each Living Picture.

Background Replacement: Easily change the background of an image by selecting a depth layer and replacing it with a new image -- essentially rendering the use of green screens unnecessary -- while keeping the interactivity and advantages of a Living Picture.

Depth-Based Adjustments: Isolate areas and make editorial changes based on the Z depth information of each Living Picture. Adjustments include: exposure, saturation, color, contrast, hue and colorization.

Region-Based Adjustments: Isolate regions using a radial selection tool to make editorial changes to the Living Picture like exposure, saturation, color, contrast, hue and colorization.

For the full list of improvements provided in Lytro Desktop 5.0, visit

For more information on Lytro ILLUM and Lytro Desktop, visit 

About Lytro:

Lytro is building the world’s most powerful light field imaging platform enabling artists, scientists and innovators to pursue their goals with an unprecedented level of freedom and control. This revolutionary technology developed by Lytro will unlock new opportunities for photography, cinematography, mixed reality, scientific and industrial application. For additional information, visit