The real cleverness of the Lytro camera lies in its software, as it’s a simple looking device. There are only two buttons, one on the top which turns the camera on and works the shutter and one on the bottom which turns the camera on and off.
The screen size makes it difficult to judge your shots
The battery is not removable, and neither is the storage. It comes in 8GB and 16GB configurations, the larger one only in red, the smaller one in graphite and blue. Lytro claims a 16GB camera will hold 750 images, in use I found it nearer to 500.
Given there is no focus, consequentially it has no aperture control. Nor is there control over shutter speed. The only controls are an optical zoom which is hidden in a touch sensor along the patterned rubber top and a touch screen.
Concealed micro USB connection
Under a flap there is a micro-USB connector. The screen gives a few controls, you can use it to view pictures, and tap to focus on a picture, mark some pictures as favourites, and put the camera into “creative mode”.
The creative mode lets you stipulate the centre of the focus for the spread of focal points, so this image uses the automatic setting...
...while the image below had the centre of focus stipulated as between the nurse and the knights using creative mode.
You’ll see that in the second picture the back row of people can’t be brought into focus.
Alas, the screen is dreadful. It’s too small and of too low a resolution to see any detail in the pictures. It’s not really possible to see the effects of the focus unless they are really marked. In bright light, it is worse and you have to just snap and hope. What it really needs is a USB link to a tablet – a latest generation iPad would be ideal – so that you can see the pictures, and one is in the works, apparently.
Next page: Look sharp
Re: Crime scene photography
Except that one of the reasons they take lots of shots is so they've got good-quality pictures of everything. Not gonna work if you're only getting webcam-quality, regardless of whether you can shift the focus.
No Windows (I was hardly expecting linux) support? Makes me think this really is a shiny toy of little real use...
Nice idea, but I think I can wait a few months to see if it's really any use.
Re: Only Mac?
@Dapprman... I think they have identified their target market perfectly. Willing to pay over the odds for a pretty looking gadget of little real use.
Re: Only Mac?
Since when it was launched. You could only initially get iTunes on Mac until they brought the Windows version out some time later.
Unlikely ever to be more than a novelty.
I'll quite possibly have to eat my poorly-focussed hat on this, but I would be amazed if this ever became anything more than a novelty. It cannot squeeze down to a practical depth to fit into a phone which is the big market for novel photo apps - and that's a physics limit more than an engineering limit. Even with the absurd rate of increase of pixel density in sensors, you still lose pixels geometrically with this system - crudely speaking, N planes of focus means you only get an Nth of the raw pixels of the sensor in the final image(s) - so you hit the noise limit for tiny pixels N times faster than with a 'normal' camera. And there are far less "clever" but far more practical methods of after-the-fact focussing. The small sensors and lenses on compacts and cameraphones effectively give infinite depth of field already and it isn't rocket science to measure and add a depth parameter to the raw image.
Most annoyingly of all, the focus on most Lytro images is terrible. The focal plane is never truly sharp regardless of where you try to refocus the image.
Light field image capture is a super clever solution to a problem that simply doesn't exist.
That said, five or so years ago when this was first proposed I brashly declared that it would never be anything more than vapourware so I don't have much of a track record here.