What is Lytro? It’s a “light field camera”, a totally new kind of camera. Instead of recording the color and intensity of each pixel, it records the color, intensity, and direction of the rays of light.
What does this mean? It means that unlike the film and digital cameras you know, you don’t need to focus the light on the film/sensor in order to take a sharp photo. Instead, it captures the rays of light, and when you are viewing the photo, software processes the information to produced a final focused image. This means that you can focus the image after it was taken.
Very cool idea. Lytro just shipped their first consumer product and Amit and I went to the San Francisco Academy of Sciences to check it out.
The camera looks different from most cameras. It’s a stick, has no flash, and a small touchscreen. You need special software to view the images, since they aren’t normal image files. The software is Mac-only: a sign of the times.
Want to see an example photo we took? I thought so. Click on the preview below, let it load and then click on different parts of the photo to see it re-focus.
Impressed? Neither was I. The final image quality is similar to that of a crappy webcam. But don’t dismiss Lytro just yet. Remember that the first digital camera was created in 1975. It took many years for the technology to improve and replace film cameras. As technology progresses, I can imagine light field cameras take over current digital camera technology. This is just a glimpse into that future. We just aren’t there yet.