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Pictured above is Lytro’s new Light Field camera, which doesn’t look like any camera on the market. And, being the only camera to focus after you’ve taken the picture, it doesn’t work like other cameras either. With pictures produced on the Light Field Camera, the photographer doesn’t have to wait around for the auto-focus to click into action, and the images allow viewers to select which portion of the image they want in focus. Try for yourself by clicking around on the pictures below to adjust your own focus and depth of field.
The Lytro has an 8x optical zoom lens and a constant f/2 aperture. Lytro claims this camera will “never miss a moment” with no shutter delay thanks to the elimination of the need to auto-focus.
The camera differs from other cameras by capturing light in a different way to to other cameras; by means of a series of microlenses set in front of the sensor. Conventional cameras focus light down into a single pixel, but the Lytro splits the information across a number of pixels, depending on the angle from which they have arrived.
There will be three versions available from Lytro’s website in 2012. Both the blue and the graphite versions have 8GB of internal memory which can store 350 pictures, and the “red hot” model contains 16GB of storage, allowing for 750 pictures. The pictures taken are all hosted on Lytro’s site, from where they can be linked to from elsewhere (primarily Facebook).
The price of the two 8GB models are $399 , and $499 for the “red hot” 16GB version. Photos are transferred via a microUSB cable.
The Light Field Camera produces pictures with a lower conventional resolution of other mid-range digital compacts, but the company is keen to emphasise that cameras are devices for taking pictures and sharing stories, and that if the majority of pictures are being taken to be shared on Facebook, the fact is that many megapixels are wasted anyway.
I can see the geek appeal of the camera, and I would certainly welcome the opportunity to have a play around with one, but for me a major stumbling block is the inability to adjust colour, exposure or even make the image black and white without converting the image into a 1,080×1,080-pixel-resolution JPEG; this feels like a bit of step backward now applications like Instagram have become so popular. Having said that, this is the very first version, so more editing features could well be added to the desktop software or Lytro’s website in days to come.
All images: Lytro