Shoot First, Focus Later: Camera Is 'Game-Changer'

Lytro reviewers impressed, but you might not want to buy it yet

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 1, 2012 1:42 PM CST

(Newser) – The company behind the Lytro camera calls its technology "the first major change in photography since photography was invented," and reviewers seem to agree. By analyzing and storing all the points of light in any given photo, the Lytro allows users to refocus the subject, or focus on an entirely new subject in the frame—after you've taken the picture. An 8GB model, which holds 350 pictures, will run you $399; for 16GB or 750 pictures, you'll spend $499. A sample of the reviews:

  • Light field photography, the new tech behind the Lytro, is "hard to explain, but it’s amazing," writes Joshua Topolsky in the Washington Post. "Being able to refocus an image after it’s been uploaded to your computer will irrevocably alter your perception of what a photo is," and when he first saw a demo, he was "awestruck." It's not perfect—its shape and size are particularly irksome, and there's no flash—but it's definitely a "game-changer."

  • In the New York Times, Sam Grobart agrees that this is a big deal, calling Lytro's capability "astonishing" and "fairly mind-blowing." The camera "makes photography almost like cinematography, revealing things vividly in the foreground and background." But he agrees that there are still quite a few problems, like the camera's touch screen, and says that he wouldn't shell out for one just yet. (In a separate blog post, he also worries about the camera's effect on photojournalism.)
  • "The consumer point-and-shoot camera has just been reinvented—not tweaked, or remodeled, but actually re-thought from top to bottom," declares Walt Mossberg in the Wall Street Journal, noting that Lytro has promised that in the future, you'll also be able to change the perspective of a photo or convert it to 3D. But he also cautions that the camera has drawbacks, and—like Topolsky—recommends that a Lytro should not be your sole camera.
  • "In many respects, Lytro feels like a classic version 1.0 product, fresh and promising but light on features," writes Edward C. Baig in USA Today. Plus, "there's a definite learning curve using the camera." The technology is "exciting," but right now this is probably a product for "seasoned photographers" only.

Two Lytro cameras.   (Flickr)
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