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Lytro’s revolutionary light field cameras

When news involves both photography and Silicon Valley, I’ve to to comment.

At a press event yesterday that was held by founder Ren Ng (Ph.D.) of  Lytro, a Silicon Valley (Mountain View) startup, Lytro’s cameras were revealed! Not only do the cameras capture light rays rather than flat images and allow you to focus and refocus an image AFTER you’ve captured it (either in the camera or on a personal computer), but the camera has a revolutionary LOOK as well: a rectangular tube with a square touchscreen on ONE end and an 8X f/2 lens on the OTHER! You zoom by touching a strip on the top and take a photo by pushing a button. There is also a USB port and a power button.

No cool settings, no video, no flash….

As some in California would say… “Radical, dude!” :-)

Lytro’s cameras start at $399 for an 8GB model.

Photos from the press event in San Francisco, with Ren Ng holding the camera, let you appreciate the actual size.

There are three models:

  1. $399 “electric blue” model with 8GB of memory (about 350 shots)
  2. $399 “graphite” model with 8GB memory (about 350 shots)
  3. the “red hot” model with 16GB of memory (about 750 shots)

Although U.S. residents can buy the cameras NOW (only from Lytro’s Web site), the cameras will not ship until the first quarter of 2012.

In light-field photography, light get captured from multiple directions on each patch of the sensor and the camera records the directional information. After-the shot computing converts the information into something that the human eye and brain can comprehend. Thus, a Lytro camera image is a 3D map of what was photographed, and people can focus on subjects of interest in the image AFTER the photo was taken!

Since the camera captures depth information, Lytro images can be viewed in 3D as demonstrated with 3D TVs!

Although the initial version of the application will only be available on Mac, :-) a Windows version is on the way, as are viewing apps for mobile phones.

Brian Tong of CNET presents a video demo’ing the camera.

-Bill at

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