Up until now, the standard process of taking a picture involved finding he correct lens for a situation, then the right aperture settings, then the right shutter speed, then the . . . it goes on. Then you would have to take the picture that you shot which was recorded on film and have it developed. That process changed slightly when digital photography burst onto the scene. Digital photography allows the viewing of a picture right after it was taken. Digital photography allowed many more people to take pictures inexpensively and share them with their friends and family.
However a new way to take pictures has now emerged. What if you didn’t have to worry about correctly focusing on the subject of the picture? What if all you had to do was push a button and go?
This is where I introduce the 1st edition of the Lytro camera.
It works by capturing the light field in front of the camera and saving that as the picture.
However, to view the picture you have to import it to your computer and then use the software that is provided to adjust the focus of the photo.
That’s right, you pick the subject that you want to focus on after you take the picture.
You may have noticed that I said 1st edition earlier. Well, this is because Lytro have just announced the second step in their “light field” sensing technology. The Lytro ILLUM camera.
This new camera has a full 40 Megaray’s of sensory quality. Lytro claims that this camera will be the next step in creating imagery that photographers will be able to “portray not just a cross-section of reality, but an authentic, interactive window into their world.”
Now this camera is available for pre-order right now but at a price tag of $1500 US it is not available to the average person as of yet.
So what does this mean for photography you might ask? Well there are benefits to the Lytro camera and there are negatives.
For the positives, this camera is very versatile. It is relatively small and all you have to do to take a picture is press one button, everything else can be dealt with in post. This means that you can spend more time in the moment when you are there and when you get home you can explore the moment you captured further as well. Because you can refocus on anything after the fact it is very fun to go around clicking new parts of the photo to focus on. It makes you really see what was going on when you took the picture. I also like the instant turn on and subsequent instant shutter feature that helps you to never miss a moment.
The con of using this camera is, most noticeably, the clarity. Because the technology has not been used before in other cameras and you are capturing the light for the scene in a different way, the quality is something to be desired, not terrible but not crystal clear either. However it seems that with their new camera, the ILLUM, Lytro is aiming to fix the issue with the resolution of their camera. Another issue with this camera is the lack of control that you have over the picture before you take it. While there are many things you can do with the picture in post, there is not much control over the settings before you take the picture. Everything (minus the shutter button to take the picture) is controlled though the small LCD touch screen on the camera. You have varying degrees of control over the various traditional settings but nothing like what you could come by from a mid-range tough high-end DSLR. Again however, it looks like their new camera will be making great strides in the right direction to appeal to the DSLR group.
My overall reaction to this camera is that it is fun to use but the novelty wears off. The biggest thing for me is the clarity of the photographs, (it could also be that I am just a bad photographer) I am also sorry to say that I do not own one of these camera but have used them on occasion and have had a moderate amount experience with them. However, if you have $200 bucks (US) to drop (for the 8GB model) and feel like having some fun with a novel concept then I say why not get one?
Despite my unease over this camera I am intently looking forward to the release of their next camera the ILLUM and I think that it has a great amount of potential. I will definitely have my eyes and ears open for the release of that camera.
Thanks for reading!