LYTRO – GIMMICK OR REVOLUTIONARY PRODUCT?

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I remember the first time I found out about the lytro, I was super excited about the gadget and thought it would be a great addition to the ever crowded field of photography.

I consider myself a photography enthusiast and I am always on the lookout for new technology in that field. I usually prefer using portable cameras to the bulky DSLRs that most professional photographers use. I know when it comes to resolution and such, DSLRs generally trump their smaller counterparts. With that said, after reading about the lytro, I thought to myself, is it possible that this device could make up for all the lost pixels that smaller cameras are inevitably plagued with?

The only way I was going to find this out was to get a hold of a lytro and test it out myself. Approximately 3 years later, I was finally able to get a hold of one, and in this article I will try to give an objective review of the gadget. Is it a gimmick? A one trick pony that only offers one feature, or is it something that could seriously challenge the major Cameras in the industry and convince me to look into seriously buying one?

Before I go any further, the reader might be wondering what a lytro is.

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It is basically a camera that specifically works with light field technology to enable the user change or alter the depth of field after the picture has been taken.

According to this article, the lytro has been in the works for almost 20 years. Light field photography, the underlying factor behind the lytro is also not new. Whilst it remains a field of photography without much acclaim, the idea behind it is something we will most likely be seeing a lot in our mobile cameras down the line. Light field photography gives photographers, both professional and amateur, the ability to enhance and alter everything from focus to after the picture has been taken.

Here’s a better quote from the Spectrum website, “Instead of merely recording the sum of all the light rays falling on each photosite, a light-field camera aims to measure the intensity and direction of every incoming ray. With that information, you can generate not just one but every possible image of whatever is within the camera’s field of view at that moment. For example, a portrait photographer often adjusts the lens of the camera so that the subject’s face is in focus, leaving what’s behind purposefully blurry. Others might want to blur the face and make a tree in the background razor sharp. With light-field photography, you can attain either effect from the very same snapshot.”


Many photo-editing apps and websites like Flickr, Fotor, Instagram and the likes, to some extent, utilize light field technology by allowing the user to edit and alter a picture or multiple pictures after it has been taking. It only adds credence to the earlier point that the technology might not be very popular right now, but it seems to be making the upwards climb to prominence.

So is the lytro worth buying? Does it pass my test?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. My plan was to use it for three days and then write this review. But after spending a day with it, I don’t think an additional two days will matter.

The lytro as far as design looks portable and can be carried around with ease, but because of said size, it makes it hard to take good pictures. I mostly use my IPhone for pictures, and I will argue all day about how great it is, so it was a bit of a letdown trying to use the lytro take pictures and not getting the desired outcome.

The screen is too small, and the touch screen functions aren’t as responsive as I’d hoped. The picture quality also leaves a lot to be desired.

The picture below was taken with a lytro to emphasize my above point.

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 The one below was taken with an IPhone

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Whilst comparing both is subjective depending on who is viewing, I would say that the IPhone delivers the better picture.

Below are more pictures taken with the Lytro, to further prove that the camera needs more work at least resolution wise. Even with the advertised light field technology, the quality and resolution of pictures taken could use some serious tweaking.

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CONCLUSION

All in all, I think the lytro is a promising tool. The ability to alter depth perception and exposure after taking a picture cannot be understated. Whereas DSLRs give you this function prior to shooting, most if not all smart phones could definitely use with post editing.

This is what I think the lytro makers should look into. Using this technology on smart phones or licensing it to photo editing software and applications. That would truly improve the mobile photography industry. As of now, the lytro is nothing more than a gimmick. It looks fancy, but the field of photography requires more than just a cute looking toy.

References

Lytro camera review. (n.d.). Engadget. Retrieved June 29, 2014, from http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/08/lytro-camera-review/

Light-Field Photography Revolutionizes Imaging. (n.d.). – IEEE Spectrum. Retrieved June 29, 2014, from http://spectrum.ieee.org/consumer-electronics/gadgets/lightfield-photography-revolutionizes-imaging

Lytro’s light field camera captures ‘unprecedented’ images, lets you choose focus later. (n.d.). Engadget. Retrieved June 29, 2014, from http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/22/light-field-camera-captures-unprecedented-images-lets-you-cho/

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4 thoughts on “LYTRO – GIMMICK OR REVOLUTIONARY PRODUCT?

  1. I currently have a Canon T3i and it is very hectic to carry around. I would have loved for something of this magnitude to replace it. Something will be coming soon to replace the DSLR’s with the same quality. I will be very interested in picking that item up.

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  2. I was unaware something like this even existed, so thanks for sharing! I am looking into buying a camera and have thought the same thing – that the DSLR’s are just too big but judging by your review, I don’t see much use to the Lytro. I think my iPhone takes great pictures, and with all the editing apps available, I can stick with this for now. However, I do want to revamp my personal blog, so I need to start looking for a quality camera. I’m glad you wrote this, because it shows me that I need to do some research before spending money on a camera!

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  3. Thank you Mayo! I didn’t know at all about the Lytro being on the market. You review is really useful, and I’ll definitely keep it in mind. It may not be fully efficient now, but I am sure the company will develop the technology since there is a real need among Photography aficionados.
    If you are looking for a good quality portable camera, I would definitely recommend the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera: http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products.

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  4. Yikes. Yes, those Lytro shots look no better than my old iPhone 3GS. The resolution and general quality are severely lacking for today’s camera/phone camera marketplace. I agree with your point that maybe the best thing for Lytro to do at this time is license their technology for smart phones or photo editing applications.

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