Lytro Inc. introduced on Wednesday a camera, which they've named Lytro.
With body 4.4 inches long and 1.6 inches square and looks that are more of a scope than a camera, Lytro is claimed to revolutionize photography and usher in a new generation of cameras.
At first, I was skeptical. I wondered what is the camera trying to offer, taking such a departure from today's camera design, especially considering that it may not fit in phones and tablets.
Then I read the articles. And I thought, okay, this sounds interesting. But just interesting. I still don't see it bringing about a revolution.
But then I saw it's captures. And suddenly I knew why it's generating such excitement.
What It Offers
The Lytro offers photographers the ability to shoot what the company calls “living pictures” – pictures in which you can click anywhere and change their focus. Yes, you read that right.
You can refocus a picture after it has been shot and saved. You won't have to wait for the focus to adjust before the picture is taken. You won't have to worry about whether you got what you needed in focus.
There won't even be a delay before the shutter closes, as the camera does not waste time on adjusting the lens.
So you are able to capture image instantly, given that the camera turns on instantly and has an instant shutter. And you can bring whatever you want to be in focus into focus later on.
How Does It Do It?
The Lytro is based on the concept of light field and computational photography, which the company's Founder and Chief Executive Ren Ng's did his Ph.D. dissertation on at the Stanford University.
The camera houses a light field sensor that captures the color, intensity, and direction of 11 million light rays (or 11 megarays) in a scene to generate the image.
The picture, which comes in Lytro's proprietary format (.lfp), is embedded with a light field engine that allows users on any device, be it the camera or a computer or a mobile phone, to interact with it without requiring a special software.
The company says that since all pictures taken with the camera are inherently 3D, it will also develop software so that they can be viewed in 3D using 3D screens.
Design & Specs
The pocket-sized camera weighs roughly half a pound and houses a considerable 8x optical zoom lens, which has a constant f/2 aperture.
The user interface is simple. There is a 1.46 inch touchscreen. The top houses a button for the shutter and a slider for the zoom. The bottom has the power button and a micro-USB port.
The Lytro will come in two models, an 8GB one that comes in Electric Blue or Graphite for $399 and a 16GB one that is only available in Red Hot and costs $499. The company says the 8GB can store 350 pictures, and the 16GB can store 750 pictures.
You can order it now on the company's website, but the shipping will start in early 2012. Lytro is offering first customers free storage for their light field pictures uploaded on their website.
The camera will initially come with a desktop application for Mac operating system only; a Windows version is under development, the company said.