The Lytro camera, winner of CES 2012′s Last Gadget Standing competition, puts the “point-and-shoot” name and the best digital cameras to shame. Point-and-shoots tend to point, wait for focus, delay for shutter, and may or may not capture the image you intend. But the revolutionary Lytro camera allows users to “Shoot now, focus later.” Photographers can actually set the focus AFTER taking the photo!
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“Taking a conventional photograph is like recording all the musicians playing together rather than recording each instrument as a separate track.” Dr. Ren Ng, observed in his PH.D thesis on light-field technology.
Now the head of the Silicon-valley startup Lytro, Dr. Ren Ng, has applied the studies in his Ph.D thesis to invent a revolutionary camera the competes with the best digital cameras on the market. The Lytro camera weighs less than eight ounces, has a tubular shape, features an 8x optical zoom lens with constant f2 aperture, includes two buttons (on/off and shutter), and a touch-screen zoom. No auto-focus, no shutter-lag, no modes, flash, dials, settings; the Lytro makes shooting ten times easier than even the best digital cameras do.
Light-field view technology allows more information to be captured than just the “whole song” so that individual aspects (instruments) in the picture gain focus. Just about everything about this camera’s easier, except for the new photo format lfp, which is not compatible with flickr, Snapfish, etc. However, the Lytro site offers users unlimited storage so that photos can be embedded on other sites.
What’s hard to wrap my head around is why I would want to single out subjects to focus on. I think it’s great for portraits where I want to blur out the background and focus on the person. Also, I’m thrilled to omit flash and the delayed shutter that captures the moment after, not the moment I want.
But will this camera allow me to have pictures with everything in focus—for instance, landscapes? I ask because all the sample pictures Lytro showcases always have one aspect out of focus and another in-focus, as if we always have to decide between two focal points. I hope that this is just because they like to emphasize their “focus later” feature, but that a “focus all” feature does exist. Because, sometimes I DO like to hear all the instruments in one song and not single each one out in each track.
The Lytro cameras should be available in spring 2012, but can be pre-ordered now. Also note that they are only Mac compatible, they only take stills at this point, though video is a probability, and that they come in three colors. The 8 GB comes in electric blue and graphite for $399 and the 16 GB comes in the color red hot one and sells for $499.