Lytro camera review

Lytro camera review

T3 3
  • The innovative Lytro light field camera lets you refocus pictures after you've taken them. Witchcraft? T3 went in for a closer look...

    Lytro camera review

    Love

    • Ultra-modern design
    • No shutter lag
    • Amazing refocusing tech

    Hate

    • Clunky photo sharing
    • Small and grainy screen
    • Very low resolution snaps

    The Lytro light field camera isn't like other cameras. It captures information about how the light rays are travelling - their direction, colour and intensity - so that you can refocus your images after you've taken them.

    The ability to change the focus of your photos after the event may sound like magic, but it's actually down to an array of microlenses placed over the sensor which scatter the light according to the angle of its approach.

    The clever camera then uses this information to work out where the light would've ended up, if the focus was slightly different. The result of this nifty tech is extraordinary although inevitably, image resolution suffers slightly as a result.

    Since Lytro first introduced the camera in 2012, it's added a few goodies, not least Perspective Shift. This enables you to interact with the photo and change your point of view, albeit by very small degrees.

    Instagram fans will also be pleased to hear that Lytro has introduced Living Filters - an selection of the usual arty filters for giving your pictures a retro look.

    We've seen a few quirky camera trying to do something different over the last year or so - step forward, Canon Powershot N - but has the Lytro got what it takes to succeed?

    Lytro camera: Size and build

    There's no denying that the camera has a very slick design indeed. It looks suitably futuristic and is available in a range of colours. Measuring 41 x 41 x 112mm and tipping the scales at 214g, the Lytro is very compact  

    To maintain the minimalist look, it has very few controls. There's a power button on underside, next to a hidden mini USB port, while the top is home to a central shutter release button, plus a discrete zoom slider that runs across the nose of the camera.

    The main camera itself sports a slick anodized aluminium finish, while the front section nearest the lens is rubberised for a bit of a grip. The only other physical feature you'll find is a small indent to feed the supplied wrist strap through. It takes a while to get used to holding the camera and not moving it when you're taking a snap, but it's certainly easy to use.

    Lytro camera: Features

    There are two versions of the camera available - the standard model has 8GB of memory, which Lytro says will store 350 of its 'living pictures', while the 16GB model will hold 750 pictures.

    The camera sports a 4.6 x 4.6mm along with a 43.344mm (35mm equivalent) lens with a fixed f/2 aperture and an 8x optical zoom along with an ISO range of 80-3200.

    The camera also packs built-in Wi-fi so that you can upload your snaps. Lytro tells us that while Wi-Fi capability wasn't active on the first wave of products that we saw in 2012, the technology was always there - it was just laying dormant waiting for a software update, which has now arrived.

    Lytro camera: Screen

    The tiny 1.52-inch LCD touchscreen sits on one end of the camera and you can tap the screen to refocus while taking shots. To review your snaps on the tiny screen, you swipe right and then scroll through your shots before pressing the shutter button to go back to shooting mode.

    You can tap the onscreen star to choose your favourite snaps - these will be imported first when you transfer your pictures.

    While the screen on most conventional cameras is a handy tool to check your shots as you go, the Lytro's is so small that you can't really tell if you picture is any good until you've uploaded it to something with a bigger screen.

    Lytro camera: Shooting modes

    The Lytro has two shooting modes - Everyday and Creative. The Everyday mode means that you don't need to focus each shot - you just point and shoot. If you want a bit more control, then the Creative mode, enables you to control the blur in the shot by tapping the screen to choose what to focus on. You can also use the manual controls to select the shutter speed and ISO level.

    Lytro camera: Uploading and sharing

    Once you've got your shots, you can upload them to your computer by hooking up the camera with a USB cable. The first time you do this, you'll be asked if you want to install the free desktop software (you can also download it from the Lytro website).

    Alternatively, you can upload to your online Lytro gallery - you can either sign in through Facebook or create a new login. You can upload over Wi-Fi via the free Lytro Mobile App for iPhone and iPad (there's also an Android app planned  which Lytro hopes to launch by the end of 2013).

    Images can be shared to Facebook as animated GIFs either from the app or from your online Lytro gallery or the desktop software. This works reasonably well and the pictures can be viewed (and the point of focus altered) easily on the desktop version of Facebook.

    However, we found that when viewing these on mobile versions of Facebook, the picture wasn't actually visible on the timeline and instead the link directed us to the Lytro website. There's also no way of tagging friends in the picture, or in the caption that you can add when uploading it.



    As well as uploading to Facebook, you can also post to Twitter and create a GIF of your image (you'll have to choose between the refocus feature and Perspective Shift for the latter).

    Because the LFP (Light Field Picture) files are pretty big, it takes quite a while to convert and send each picture.

    Lytro camera: Image quality

     

    The '11-Megaray' sensor produces images of around 1080x1080 pixels and while the camera shoots images at 11MB, the pictures that you share will only be around 1.2MB in size. The technology involved means that there's an inevitable loss in clarity, so a lot of the images we ended up with were rather soft.

    The Lytro works best on shots with plenty of depth involved to get the full effect of the shiftable focus. This takes a lot of getting used to, as you have to completely relearn what you know about taking photos.

    The lack of flash is slightly limiting - you'll need to shoot in relatively bright conditions, or use an independent flashgun, or the flash on your compact or smartphone.

    While the ability to refocus your image after you've taken it is extremely cool, the quality of the image itself is nowhere near what you'd get from a quality compact like the Canon Ixus 510 HS, Panasonic LX7 or the Sony RX100.

    However, when you manage to get a shot with plenty of depth that can be refocused at will, the result is pretty remarkable.

    Lytro camera: Verdict

    For innovation, and sheer audacity, we love the Lytro light field camera. The technology involved is extremely impressive and we also like the design of the camera itself.

    However, the whole experience needs some polishing While the design is chic, the tiny screen is simply too small for composing and reviewing shots. Uploading the pictures is pretty sluggish, and the social media sharing also needs some fine-tuning.

    Niggles aside, this is only the start for Light Field cameras and we look forward to seeing what the boffins at Lytro come up with next.

    Lytro release date: Out now

    Lytro price: £399 (8GB), £469 (16GB)

  • Fed up with fuzzy photos? The eye-popping Lytro light field camera reboots photography by letting you refocus pictures after they’ve been taken

    Lytro camera review

    Love

    • Ultra-modern design
    • No shutter lag
    • Amazing refocusing tech

    Hate

    • Clunky photo sharing
    • Small and grainy screen
    • Very low resolution snaps

    Weirdly for products that are all about creating beautiful images, cameras often seem cobbled together by committees of design-blind engineers. For every stunning snapper like the Pentax K-01, Nikon J1 or Leica M Monochrom, there are a dozen digital dullards like the Samsung DV300.

    The Lytro doesn’t just look amazing, it squeezes truly revolutionary tech into its cubist telescopic frame. An innovative ‘light field’ system captures the direction of incoming light rays as well as their colour and intensity, allowing you to refocus images after they’ve been shot, on its touchscreen or online.

    Lytro: Design

    Small, solid (214g) and sexy, the aluminium-clad Lytro is a joy to hold – if not quite as much fun to use. A rubber grip, very responsive shutter and near-invisible touch-sensitive zoom slider suggest one-handed operation, but this requires trumpet-playing levels of manual dexterity.

    The design nod to Apple is clear, with the Lytro slinking around in three metallic colours (grey, blue and red), two storage flavours (8GB, 16GB), and has a single USB cable for both data and charging.

    Lytro: Features

    Lytro has stripped traditional photo features down to a minimum. A Creative Mode gives access to the full 8x zoom - otherwise limited to 3.5x - but obviously there’s no control over lighting, colour or sensitivity. Although the 1.5-in touchscreen is sensitive, it’s so low-res (128x128 pixels) that lining up a shot can be tricky, especially as it washes out in bright light.

    Lytro: Uploading

    Lytro amps up the Mac love by refusing to work with Windows (although PC software is promised within weeks). Each image takes around 10 seconds to upload and process, which quickly stacks up when you have hundreds. The Mac software is very user-friendly but rather basic.

    Options are limited to rotating the ‘living images’ and sharing them via Lytro’s website (check out our test shots), Twitter or Facebook – great options that let friends refocus a picture by clicking anywhere inside. Promised for later this year is a free upgrade to create eerie parallax 3D images from existing Lytro files.

    Lytro: Image quality

     

    Because the Lytro captures the direction as well as the intensity of each light ray, its 11MP sensor outputs JPEG images at just 1.2MP. These can look lovely on screen but are way too pixelly to make good prints.

    Images are also rather soft and prone to blowing out highlights. There’s no flash or video mode, either. On the plus side, the refocusing is truly astounding, especially if you frame pictures with distinct foreground and background subjects.

    Lytro: Verdict

    We want to love the Lytro. It looks and feels fantastically futuristic, and the light field technology inside will change the way we think about photography forever. But not just yet.

    Although refocusing images is an astonishing gimmick, the Lytro lacks power, resolution and flexibility, and is hampered by a low quality screen. Even if the Lytro arrives in the UK late this year as expected, waiting for version 2.0 might make more sense.

    Lytro release date: Out now (US), late 2012 (UK)

    Lytro price: from $400

    Original review by Mark Harris

    • Lytro camera hands-on
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro-camera-lead-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro-camera-1-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro-camera-2-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro-camera-3-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro-camera-4-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro-camera-5-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro_lead_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro_1_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro_2_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro_3_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro_4_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro_5_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro_6_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro_7_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro_8_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro_9_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro_10_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ly/xs_Lytro_11_624.jpg
  • Lytro Field Camera

    Best deals

Comments

Be the first to comment…

Back to top
Close
T3 Newsletter
Sign up to recieve the T3 newsletters by entering your details below

Your Details

As you're registering with us. we'd like to think that you'd enjoy receiving the following emails; if you'd rather not receive them, please untick the boxes:

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and it's group companies containing news, special offers and product information
I agree to the terms of use and privacy policy and confirm that I am over 16 years of age *
Close
Log in or Join

By clicking below you agree to our terms and conditions and our privacy policy

Log in to T3.com with your preferred social network

Log in with your T3.com account

CloseJoinPlease complete these additional details

Join T3.com with your preferred social network

OR

Join T3.com

Please tick this box to confirm you are 16 years old or over

Just so we know you're human

Newsletters

I would like to receive T3 email newsletters, packed full of the latest tech news, competitions and exclusive offers.

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and its group companies containing news, special offers and product information.

I would like to receive offers from carefully selected third Parties. We will not share your data with the third party.

Close Edit your profile

Change your password

Newsletters

I would like to receive T3 email newsletters, packed full of the latest tech news, competitions and exclusive offers.

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and its group companies containing news, special offers and product information.

I would like to receive offers from carefully selected third Parties. We will not share your data with the third party.

Social networks

You have authorised these social networks to interact with your T3.com account.

Please ensure you deactivate or revoke access to this website from within your social networks settings to ensure all permissions are removed.

Close Forgotten your password

Forgotten your password?

Please enter the email address that you used to sign up and we'll send you a new password

Close
Forgotten password
Don't have a T3 Account? Join now