Mountain View-based Lytro just started shipping its camera with the same name this week. It’s a bit difficult to explain but the Lytro is the first light field camera. Instead of capturing an image onto a sensor and interpreting it on a 2D canvas, it takes a snapshot of the light rays in the scene. Then the processing software takes those captured light rays and turns them into manipulative images with variable depth of field (which Lytro calls living pictures). In layman’s terms, it allows users to manipulate pictures after the fact and change what’s in focus.
The picture below will explain more. Click on a part of the image and it adjusts the focus of the scene. Truly amazing!
The Lytro has two models – an 8GB version which holds about 350 shots and a 16GB (750 shots). Prices are $399 and $499 respectively. The lens is set with a constant f/2 aperture throughout its 8x optical zoom although users can also use a Creative mode, which gives them access to the entire optical zoom. That means that users can focus up close or shoot portraits with a blurred background, all while maintaining the focal point in their picture.
Currently, the desktop software for importing and processing photos is only available for Macs (it requires Mac OS 10.6.6 or higher). A Windows application is still in the development stages.
Overall, the Lytro will definitely take photography to a higher level in the very near future.
Photo Credit: Lytro