Lytro May Absolutely Change Photography

July 13th, 2011

To start off, click the images in different spots to focus—think of your depth of field.

A new company by the name of Lytro launched with some seriously amazing camera technology. The camera captures all the information it possibly can about the field of light so that you can adjust the photo in any way during post. By that I mean you can re-focus, re-light, add tilt-shift etc.

With this new technology Lytro will be, in my opinion, changing certain aspects of photography. As noted in the comments the camera should be very near $1000 which is extremely reasonable. My opinions have completely changed since I first wrote the article not even a day ago. All in all I see some hugely amazing projects coming out of this and can’t wait to hear more.

If you have thoughts on this new technology please share.

Posted by on 07/13/11 in Photography

11 COMMENTS   »  Leave your Comment

  1. Tom says:

    Read a lot about this the last couple of weeks – and I still am not convinced:
    Most of these test-images just have 2 layers of “sharpness” (sorry, my english isn’t that good), which seems to me more like a different kind of “HDR”. They just take 2 pictures and don’t merge them eventually.

  2. thehalvo says:

    Impressive to say the least. I hope they keep it expensive, at least for the first 5-10 years while the patent holds. Eventually it will become standard on all cameras, that’s the way technology always works, but until then it needs to stay in the hands of the professionals.

  3. Bob says:

    The file size and format for these must be pretty big. I imagine that will hold it off for a bit, but sooner or later we’ll see it on something like an iPhone.

  4. Tim says:

    This almost falls out of the range of photography, and into the scope of video. Video is defined as capturing multiple still frames, and while these images do not show motion, they do show change. It will be very interesting to see how this is introduced to the market, and exactly what role it will fill for artists.

  5. Shelby White says:

    @Tom I agree that it is strange there seems to be only a max of two layers. This makes me wonder if maybe these are just compressed to virtually two DOF layers because of the size.

  6. Chris says:

    Image making is about so much more than the equipment one uses. You can put a Leica in someone’s hands and there’s no guarantee that they will create beautiful images. I’ve also seen some pretty unbelievable images captured with nothing more than an iPhone. It’s about vision and skill and composition, not equipment. You can learn about aperture and shutter speed anywhere… you’re born with creativity.

    I think worrying about the advancement of technology and how it will level the playing field only shows insecurity. I try and look at these types of things and embrace them as yet another piece of affordable technology at my disposal. One more tool, nothing more.

    And for what it’s worth – I see far more than two layers in those images. Especially in the flowers/mountains shot… It looks fairly dynamic. Pretty sweet.

  7. Shelby White says:

    @Chris, You’re entirely correct and that is a good point to bring up.

  8. Most of the questions asked both in the article and in the comments have officially been answered personally already by the founder of Lytro.

    Cost: He says he guarantees it will cost no more than the average nice consumer camera. (think Rebel series DSLRs) He said it will be nowhere near $10,000, and he said very near $1000. They want to get it into the hands of everyone so they can change photography and the world forever. Making a niche, expensive product would make them akin to RED: a company only pros have ever heard of, and who’s products no one can afford. That is not their goal here at all. They want to get kids, soccer moms, grandparents, and everyone on board immediately. Sure, some (most) people won’t use it well. But they should be given the opportunity and tools to make fantastic images. It’s up to them to make it happen. These are tomorrow’s photographers.

    File size: He says the file size will be no bigger than a high quality JPEG.

    Regarding the “focus layers:”
    That’s not how it works. These images here are exported for use on the internet, therefore they’ve been simplified and compressed to minimize file size and download time. They are NOT the original files. The original files are much higher resolution, and contain all of the field depth data, so they can be focused very precisely on any area of the image, and can have the exposure genuinely adjusted as necessary.

  9. Shelby White says:


    Thank you for clarifying! I’ve updated the post to reflect this information that I clearly missed at first.

  10. nielsbot says:

    well–I expect the porn industry will be first out of the gate to exploit this new tech

  11. Andrew says:

    I saw this a while back, and my teacher was saying about how he was dismissed for thinking about such an idea being possible.

    In some ways, it’ll be even more of a challenge to compose a good photograph, because now everything within the image frame is a potential subject. You’re giving the viewer the choice as what to focus on, which means being aware of that while you’re taking a picture. In some ways you could look at it as like designing a good website, where you need to give function to an image. Also, you’ll need to understand that in the end it’s the viewer that will be adjusting the focus, and can alter the meaning of an image.

    It’s exciting and interesting, and I’m anxious to see what will happen with that new mindset when composing images. I still think I’ll stick with alt. processing for the time being ;].

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