The Lytro


There’s a new camera, which is (supposedly) revolutionary, and this time, it doesn’t come from RED.

The Lytro sounds too good to be true, sort of. I mean, they do use the word “magic” in their marketing copy.

Here’s a description:

Lytro lets you take pictures like never before. Unlike a conventional camera that captures a single plane of light, the Lytro camera captures the entire light field, which is all the light traveling in every direction in every point in space.

Yeah, this sounds like magic. I know a lot about photography and I’m still not 100% sure what they mean by this. Luckily, you can read about the science they are using.

There’s some quotes on the web site from mainstream media and some tech blogs, but no photography sources. This one from the New York Times is interesting.

“For a photographer, whether amateur or professional, the Lytro technology means that the headaches of focusing a shot go away.”

I know a lot of photographers, and none of them consider focusing a shot a headache. In fact, a good photographer consciously chooses what they want in focus and what they don’t want in focus.

The Lytro method seems to assume that you can’t decide what should be in focus when you are shooting, so you should decide later, with software, or just let the viewer decide. This might be good for consumer cameras, but I just can’t see pro photographers jumping up and down with excitement over it.


In this butterfly shot, you can have the butterfly be in focus, or you can choose to have the flowers behind it in focus. You can check out the gallery to see how it works and try it yourself.

I’m still pretty curious about this camera. The simplicity of its reminds me of an Apple product, but I still can’t see anyone with professional Nikon or Canon gear dumping it to use one of these.

October 24, 2011 · Posted by in photo  


3 Responses to “The Lytro”

  1. Cory Z on October 24th, 2011 6:10 pm

    yeah… I see only a trick that FLASH or some app could do. It’s amazing how I can do that same thing with my focus ring on my 3Dx as I’m shooting. But I do get very tired when I’m always trying to decide what to focus on… so maybe I should get one of these.

  2. Pete on October 25th, 2011 8:58 am

    The science behind the light field stuff is interesting, and may at some point be used in other cameras, but the whole “make this in focus/make that in focus” thing, I don’t see that useful for pros, but perhaps for consumers.

  3. Pete on October 25th, 2011 12:55 pm