YES THIS IS A CAMERA!
Somehow I find the original Lytro more interesting to play with than the later and more technically advanced Lytro Illum. It is certainly lower resolution, and lower quality images, and less you can do “in camera” to play with the images. However the original Lytro has a tiny form factor and can easily slip into a pocket. I’ve brought it to pro football games and have been amazed at how long the zoom throw is.
That said, it is still a curiosity, with a dubious use case.
I have a “graphite” 8gb model which I bought new. By 2017 these were going for about $50 including the tripod stand and a case. I didn’t care for the case which came with it, and bought a new/unused sleeve on eBay for another $5. The Lytro has non-removable batteries, and non-removable memory, all accessed through a single micro usb port (for charging and data transfer).
This Lytro is extremely awkward in use, mostly due to the industrial design which dictates a form factor similar to a stick of butter.
The square lens cap is held on with magnets, which looks good but isn’t particularly secure. It cannot be used with the dedicated sleeve as the cap gets caught in the sleeve and wont stay in the proper orientation. The slip on tripod “ring” seems like an afterthought, almost as if the designers had a moment where they realized “crap, we could have really used a tripod socket… now what?”
The low resolution tiny square screen is touch sensitive, as is the strip at the top of the camera which is used for zooming as well as adjusting other settings. While no where near as tactile as a standard scroll wheel on a DSLR, I have to give Lytro credit on the touch sensitive scroll strip – its a nice design with a slightly raised surface so you can feel where it is.
All quirks and problems aside, I like this little camera. My greatest fear is that if Lytro some day stops supporting their software, will it possibly become impossible to view Lytro living images online? I’d really like to see them develop something in the public domain to encourage live image development in general and remove the fear of what might happen should their servers go down, for whatever reason.
- Smallest lightfield camera (also only one of two at time of this writing)
- Small form factor and solid feel
- Huge zoom range
- Allows simple previewing of focus effects in camera on touch screen
- Extremely awkward to hold
- Tripod socket should have been built in; extremely awkward to need the “ring”
- Low resolution still images even by the standard of when this was new
- Crappy square LCD screen
- Proprietary file format – must use Lytro software to process
Software is still available on Lytro website but appears to no longer be updated
- Must use Lytro’s website to post images with depth online
- Magnetic lens cap easy to lose, impossible to replace
- Potentially evolutionary dead end
It *almost* goes without saying: this is the first commercially available lightfield camera. It captures an entire “lightfield” in such a way that the focus may be adjusted after the fact. From what I understand this is done using a standard imaging sensor, with an array and lenses designed to allow that chip to capture light ray coming in at carious angles.
- released in 2012
- 8gb (350 photos) and 16gb (750 photos) models in various colors
- touch screen and touch enabled zoom
- micro usb connector on bottom under little rubber door
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