Check out the great video below.
Lytro chose Leap Day to announce that they were finally beginning to ship their cameras to customers who had pre-ordered months ago. Since then there have been a hand full of reviews popping up around the web from folks who had already had their hands on one.
As I speculated here on Camera Campus last year, we are now starting to hear confirmation that this Lytro model will be providing you with an image containing a little less than 1.17 mega pixels. These may be able to be stretched to 5×7 prints under the best of circumstances but are probably better suited with 4×6 prints. Here’s the thing though, as I also mentioned in that same post, 95% of our images are viewed online anyway, and for those that are printed, 95% of those are 4x6s. So having a camera that’s best suited for making images that are meant for sharing online is perfectly fine. Lytro has been trying to avoid the megapixel question for a while because it’s not their strong suit.
Let’s look at what Lytro is touting as there major feature, the one thing they are hoping will get you to overlook their shortcomings. The “Living Picture” Lytro has coined this phrase to label the interactive digital version of the images produced by their light field cameras. For the best Lytro experience, you take a picture and compose specifically for the idea of of refocusing after the fact on elements within at different depths. But what if you want to take a close up picture of a ladybug and there’s nothing interesting in the background? Well then you ask your buddy to toss his hand in the background. Now you have a fairly cool close up picture of a ladybug, and you can tap to “sort of” refocus on the fingerprint closest to the camera, thought it’s sort of soft. Or you can tap and attempt to refocus on the hand in the background (though I don’t understand why you’d want to) and end up with everything in the picture being blurry!
Let’s say I take a picture of my kid in the kitchen, I have the option of focusing on my kid, the chair that’s off to the side but closer to the camera, or the trash can that’s behind him tough decision right. Lets say I chose to focus on my son, now that’s it, why do I need or want this to be a “Living Picture”?
This is really where I see the appeal falls apart leaving consumers with a rather expensive novelty. A feature that would be an occasionally used bell or whistle built into another camera with a price point of $500 is now a $400 or $500 stand alone gadget with little else of value to offer.
This video is one of the more honest reviews I’ve seen that doesn’t glaze over the faults of the camera while acting giddy about the one trick pony.
In my original post last year I called out the form factor as looking awkward and prone to being unstable. Well many reviews have mentioned this and come around to acknowledging that it’s something you can get used to. First off, I like the look of the camera, my concern with the form factor is exclusively toward the useability. Secondly, it has since occurred to me that I am a huge iPhoneography fan and the form factor and ergonomics of the iPhone are far from ideal for the purposes of photography. It’s a little better now that you can use the volume button as a shutter release, but still not ideal. So my point is that I’m sure after using it people will be able to adapt to its less than photo ready design.
In closing I just don’t see the value in this first gen model, especially at the advertised price points. My honest opinion is that even as a feature of a more robust camera the tech only has moderate value. Meaning if you offered two cameras identical in every way, other than one would have the added option of refocusing a digital version of the image after capture, and the ability to post “Living Pictures” to the web. I just don’t think I would pay too much if any extra for that feature.
I’d be interested to hear what you think.