Join ePHOTOzine, the friendliest photography community.
Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more for free!
The new Lytro Light Field Camera is a camera that lets you choose which area of the photo is in focus after you've taken it. You can refocus the image on the camera in playback mode, in the Lytro software available for Mac or Windows, or on the web when you've uploaded the images to Lytro's website.
Lytro Insides (courtesty Lytro.com)
The Lytro camera doesn't feature a specified number of "megapixels" , instead Lytro say the camera has 11 megarays, although what this means is anyone's guess, as the camera takes 1080 x 1080 square photos that can be refocused.
- Lytro sensor "11 megarays" - the explanation is equally vague.
- 8x optical zoom lens, f/2 constant aperture
- 35-300mm equivalent focal length
- 1.52 inch low-resolution touch-screen
- Zoom slider
- No video mode
- Auto ISO (ranges from ISO80 to ISO3200)
- 0cm Macro Focus
- MicroUSB socket and charging
- Available in Red (16GB model), or Blue / Grey / Seaglass / Pink (8GB models)
Handling - There are very few buttons, underneath is the USB socket, and the on/off switch. On top is the shutter button and almost invisible zoom control - you simply slide your finger over the surface to control the zoom - this makes it quite easy to accidentally zoom in an out when you didn't mean to. The back features the 1.52inch touch screen. It's an odd shaped camera, nothing like any other camera available, and in a way is a little more like holding a camcorder or perhaps a hand-held speed camera. The shutter release button will also switch the camera on, making it very easy for anyone to pick it up and start taking photos. Kids for example found it very easy to pick up and start taking photos. The rubber surround gives a good area to grip but it can take a while to get comfortable with the cameras design, and it does take a little effort to try and keep the camera stable while taking photos.
In the box you get a wrist strap, short instruction leaflet, micro-USB cable (used for charging and transferring photos), a lens cloth (nice!), and a magnetic lens cap for the camera. It would be nice if some kind of pouch was included for the camera, as finding a case for it may be difficult. A tripod mount is an optional extra, as the camera doesn't feature one built in. A 25 page camera manual is available on the Lytro website (PDF). The camera is available in blue, pink, seaglass or grey with 8gb, or in red with 16gb of memory built in.
Menus - The menus and modes on the camera are very basic, with two main shooting modes: basic and creative. In basic touching the screen will set the exposure, and in creative touching the screen will set the main focus area. The camera shows you storage space, battery life and in settings you can view the about screen, delete all or reset the camera. In playback you can view one photo or nine on screen, as well as refocus images and zoom into images. With the latest firmware update it's possible to set the shutter speed and ISO speed in custom shooting mode, later firmware updates enabled Wi-Fi, and the camera firmware is automatically checked for an update when you run the Lytro Desktop software.
Lytro Options (Shooting mode, Storage, Battery)
Lytro Thumbnail View
The screen is so low resolution you could literally count the number of pixels the camera screen has. The screen resolution is 128 x 128 pixels. It also has poor viewing angles, so you need to be looking directly at it to see what you are taking a photo of. Wi-Fi Connectivity is possible using the iOS Lytro mobile app. There is no Android app available at the moment.
Battery life - Battery life is rated at 400+ shots according to the Lytro manual. With the 8GB model you can fit 350 shots before the camera is full, therefore we weren't able to test whether the full 400 shots was possible, as the camera is plugged into the computer to get the images off (and therefore charging). We didn't have any issues with battery life, and would think that 350+ photos is easily possible before the battery goes flat. A nice feature of the camera is that it shows what percentage battery life is left.
Speed – We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
|Lytro Light Field Camera|
|Wide - Focus / Shutter Response||<0.05|
|Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response||<0.05|
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo||0.25|
|Shot to Shot (without flash)||1.0 (6 shots before slowdown)|
Focus speed isn't an issue as the camera does focus or pre-focus as such, instead it lets you take the photo the instant you press the button. In creative mode you can set the focus distance closer to the camera for close macro photos, but as this focus point is set before you take the photo, the pictures taken afterwards are taken instantly. Doesn't need to focus, just takes the photo instantly, you can focus it later. Because there is no delay due to focusing, switching the camera on and taking the first photo can be accomplished in just 1/4 of a second. There isn't a continuous shooting mode.
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, and product ratings. The image below shows an image that has been exported where you can alter the perspective, before you can do this you need to process the image in the Lytro desktop software to enable perspective shift.
Refocusing the images - this can be done in the software, on the camera, or on images shared to the web. How much you refocus the images depends on what's in the shot, with the Lytro website suggesting that anything further than 5 feet away will not be re-focusable (source), as that's effectively at infinite focus, with the best results found in having objects closer to the camera. In standard mode the closest distance for focus is around 5-6 inches away from the front of the camera, in creative mode, this can be directly in front of the lens (source).
Here's an image you can "play" with, click to refocus, or double click to zoom. You can also view full screen by clicking the icon in the bottom right corner, this then brings up an option to view full screen. Viewing images on the computer, you get a much better view, but the images don't appear to be very high quality, as these JPEG exports show below, there appears to be quite strong JPEG artefacts, and a general softness to the images.
Lytro Light Field Camera Sample Photos
Lytro Drive | 1/125 | ISO200 | f/2 | 43mm
Lytro Thoresby | 1/250 | ISO80 | f/2 | 43mm
Lytro Trees Building | 1/125 | ISO160 | f/2 | 150mm
Lytro Water | 1/250 | ISO200 | f/2 | 149mm
Dan Focus - Foreground selected (Exported JPEG)
Dan Defocus - Background selected (Exported JPEG)
Sample Photos - The camera produces images with good colour, particularly outdoors, where the camera benefits from being able to use lower ISO settings. Indoors colour can suffer as the ISO setting increases as the camera lacks flash.
Lytro Light Field Camera Lens test images
Wide Thoresby Pre Firmware | ISO100 | f/2 | 1/250 | 43mm
Lytro Wide New Firmware | 1/250 | ISO160 | f/2 | 43mm
Zoom Thoresby Pre Firmware | ISO100 | f/2 | 1/250 | 148mm
Lytro Zoom New Firmware | 1/125 | ISO200 | f/2 | 150mm
Lens Performance - The lens is the 35mm equivalent of 35-300mm, meaning it isn't very wide at the wide-angle end of the lens, however it does give you a good telephoto reach. However, the ability to refocus at the telephoto end is quite limiting as subjects need to be even further apart for it to work. In custom mode macro performance is excellent, as the camera allows you to focus on subjects directly in front of the lens, although getting light to the subject then becomes an issue.
Dynamic range can be an issue, (see below) and using the selective focus feature brings this to light very quickly, for example, you can choose what area is in focus, and then when something is under or overexposed you can focus on it and almost expect it to have altered the exposure for each section, as you would do if you were taking photos of each section.
Lytro Light Field Camera ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO80 to ISO200, and increases at ISO400. Noise is quite noticeable at ISO800 and gets noticeably worse as this is increased. As the camera doesn't feature a flash, the ISO setting is increased indoors to get sharp shots, so it's best to avoid using the higher ISO settings if possible, and the f/2.0 lens helps here.
Lytro Light Field Camera White-balance test images
AWB Tungsten Light
AWB Fluorescent Light
White Balance Performance - The camera does a decent job with auto white balance in a variety of shooting conditions, although there are no other white balance options available other than auto.
Lytro Light Field Camera Other sample images
Original Extended Focus
3d Red Cyan
Digital Filters - The camera doesn't have any, although does let you apply filters in the Lytro desktop software. The camera doesn't have a panoramic mode, and the software does not let you stitch the images together. The camera doesn't have a video mode.
Value For MoneyThe camera is $399 US dollars for the 8GB version, or $499 for the 16GB version, and is now available in the UK priced at £399 for the 8GB version. There are no other cameras anything like this, so working out value for money compared to other cameras is quite difficult. Since the camera has been released, there are some alternatives, including Nokia introducing re-focusable shots, on some of its camera phones.
You'll also need to buy a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.
Lytro Light Field Camera ProsImpressive firmware /software update process
Manual controls added with a firmware update
Perspective shift possible
Excellent macro performance
Ideal if you regularly carry flowers or other small objects around with you
Instant focus, shutter response
Future improvements promised
Easy to use
Lytro Light Field Camera ConsLow resolution, small screen
No video mode
Low resolution JPEG output
Wi-Fi app not available for Android (yet?)
Can only delete one photo at a time (or format all)
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Lytro Light Field Camera Specifications
|35mm equivalent||35mm - 300mm|
|CCD pixels||No Data|
|Sensor Type||No Data|
|Sensor Size||No Data|
|Sensor Size (width)||No Data|
|Sensor Size (height)||No Data|
|Screen resolution||128x128 pixels|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/250sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||8sec|
|ISO sensitivity||80 - 3200|
|Exposure Comp||No Data|
|Continuous shooting||No Data|
|Optical Zoom with Video||No|
|Battery Type||Lithium-Ion, built in|
|Box Contents||Camera, Wrist strap, MicroUSB cable, Lens cloth, Instructions leaflet, Lens cap|
Updated November 2013.