Lytro -The Future is here (again!)

Those who have been following Lytro’s work are probably aware of the company’s first product, The Light-Field Camera. Like me, you probably saw it on The Gadget Show in 2011 and found yourself wowed by the never seen before technology, allowing you to refocus your shots after taking them. Despite the hype and rave reviews, the Light-Field camera never took off as they had expected, maybe down to the build quality, maybe it’s strange square tube-like design but most likely the combination of its usability.

After 3 years Lytro are back with The Illum, with has the appearance of a DSLR with an in-built 8x optical zoom and a high-speed, sports capable shutter. My initial thoughts are that the Illum is built extremely well; it feels solid in your hands and is much easier to operate in comparison to the Light-Field.  Clearly the aim of this camera is to tap into the professional market; in addition to the 8x 30-250mm f/2 aperture lens the Illum also features a 4-inch touch screen display and a new sensor that can capture 40 million light rays (Lytro do not list megapixels).  Light-field cameras use a lens array to capture not just an image itself, but also the bundles of light rays, and the direction they are moving in a particular scene. In comparison to the Light-field’s 11 million light rays an obvious improvement has been made with this new model, signalling Lytro’s intent to persuade DSLR users to make the transition into what they consider to be the future of Digital Photography.

Apart from the bigger sensor and lens, there are other ways the Illum surpasses the original Light-Field model.  The main point is that it is such a different concept than most photographers are familiar with, the camera has built-in software that colour codes the display with depth information. It effectively previews the depth range you’ll have to work with once you shoot a photo. This, Lytro says, is to help photographers start to think in three dimensions. Subsequently, photographers can export the photographs to regular formats, or alternatively using WebGL (the software supplied with the camera), publish them online in ways that let people interact with them and manipulate them later. WebGL is cloud based, that allows anyone to view images captured, and view and edit them as they please. Its desktop processing software works with traditional products, like Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom. Photographers can use the camera’s software to refocus pictures after the fact, generate 3D images, adjust the depth of field, and create tilt shifts.

The Illum has a lot more features that are simply mind-blowing. Shooting something with a single-lens camera, and then seeing it on screen in rich 3D is hard to believe. For me, the most impressive attribute is its capability to take stunning macro photos. Objects held extremely close to the lens show perfectly in focus - however you can still refocus on other objects across the room.

In our world of one dimensional, static images, Lytro are pulling the photography industry into future kicking and screaming.  The Illum is an amazing piece of kit, and in my opinion, the photography industry must now sit up and respect what Lytro have created. The Illum shows a huge leap forward, not only from the original Light-Field, but within the photography industry itself.  Will this be the start of a revolution?  Only time will tell, but I for one will be following Lytro’s future developments.

The Lytro Illum is now available at our London and Burgess Hill stores, come in store to try it out for yourself, or visit www.parkcameras.com alternatively you can call 01444 23 70 70 to speak to one of our experts today. Alternatively, if you've got a question you want answered, simply write a comment below, and we'll do our best to answer it for you.

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