Lytro’s New 40-Megaray Camera Is Nothing Like Their Previous Toy


Post-production focusing is something that’s gotten a good amount of attention in the past two months, thanks to the new HTC One and Google’s latest Camera update. But those guys weren’t the first to mess with the technology. Two years ago, a company named Lytro introduced the world’s first light-field camera, which allowed the refocusing of pictures after they’ve been shot already. Their first camera, however, was nothing more that a nice gadget with no real use. Today, the company announced their second entry into the game, and it’s absolutely nothing like what they released back in 2012.

The Lytro Illum

On first impressions, it looks pretty weird. The LCD is sloped at an angle, and the lens looks like it took up a bit too much of the proportion. But Lytro isn’t a company worried about the design of a camera. Actually, they don’t consider themselves a camera company at all.


Lytro wants to bring changes to the photography world, and the Illum is them attempting to do just that. The camera comes equipped with a 40-megaray light-field sensor, and I didn’t make a typo there. That massive sensor is what’ll give us the ability to process the focus in post-production. After the focusing points are flattened out, in fact, the picture comes out to a total size of four megapixels; it’s clear to say that this isn’t the camera to get if you’re looking for detail. Instead, the Lytro Illum is a stepping stone for versatility. It takes what the HTC One M8 and Google Cameras (which simply apply a lens blur) merely imitate and implements real technology behind it. You can test it out with Lytro’s own pictures here.

Aside from the sensor’s technology, the Illum brings massive updates in other ways as well, with the focal length set at an equivalent of 30 – 250mm, an 8x optical zoom, and a constant f/2.0 aperture. But the most significant aspect of this camera, at the end of the day, is that it’s not really a camera at all. It’s an Android-powered computer, and it won’t take shots like your typical mirrorless.

Just as big as the jump in specs was from the company’s last camera to this, so is the price- $1600, while the first iteration is currently $200. Lytro’s newest camera will begin shipping in July, and you can pre-order them here.

The biggest question here is now whether everyone else will notice. Lytro’s forever going to be known now as a pioneer of this technology, but will the company be the trendsetter? Or will other big names jump onto the tech and end up ahead?

Because regardless of how the Lytro Illum is received, I don’t think its core workings are a gimmick. I think the technology it set out to establish is something that’s going to stay in the game for a long time to come.

[Via Gizmodo]

  • Felonius

    I’m trying to figure out who would buy a 4 Mega Pixel camera for $1600… Professionals for whom the price is “reasonable” won’t care because the technology is unlikely to be important to them (they’ll compose what they want the first time, and they’re not likely to share something just so people can “recompose” their intentions). Casual photographers aren’t likely to be interested since they’ll use either their cellphones, or much cheaper point & shoots. They may capture a small percentage of the middle?

    All told told, I think the technology is interesting, I just think that the price is going to kill the product.

    • Maaz Khan

      Agreed on the price. I didn’t touch on it, but Lytro should seriously reconsider the pricing if they want this camera to do well with consumers.

  • Patrick Shipstad

    I’m VERY interested in this.. not for the ability to let other people play around with the focus.. but as the video displayed.. let the photographer “perform” a moving/focusing picture and then export to a movie.. but there is nothing on their site about the file format being compatible with any editing programs, how can you post process the files.. there’s a big hole in the FAQ about workflow.. It’s a major improvement over their V1.0 product. I hope they expand their information about the product.. it’s super promising.. :-)

  • John C

    I am thinking much the same as Felonius. I’m guessing at some point it will become more reasonable, but I’m guessing that creating a sensor to capture all the focal information competes with resolution for the same physical space (since it mentioned a large sensor). It’s an interesting concept and might be fun to play with. Who knows maybe those newspapers can again let their photographers go, let the jouralists take pics and have one photographer adjust all the pics (or some such money saving theme)

  • Pennyforyourthoughts

    As with everything in life, we need to remember to look beyond what we can see now and think of what the impact will be when everyone else catches up… imagine an interactive scene in a movie where you can choose to watch action that is happening in the foreground first then go back an watch a part of the story unfolding in the background. Someone will take this initial implementation and revolutionize an aspect of our media consumption and we’ll sit back and say, “We’ll of course, why didn’t I think of that!”

  • joe_average

    it is a completely different tool for a different job. new tool = new create possibilities! this produces compelling intimacy with a “photo” when viewed in digital media by using focus pulling and perspective shifting!!! perfect for animated gifs and video. with the ease of a point and shoot, you can make really awesome video transitions.
    why wouldn’t you be interested? I would totally grab one if I had the coin.

    • joe_average

      btw, the first gen lytro cameras are going on ebay for $100-200. probably prudent to own the first one before committing to the second. if you don’t like, just flip it back on ebay 😉
      also, about the file format…there is a hack to free your “images” from the lytro software, but, try at your own risk/skills/comfort.

  • Fred Smith

    The technology is nothing short of amazing. The problem is making it commercially feasible for the masses. If I were the VCs backing this venture, I’d want to see a “product” before thinking about selling out to anther firm. This is exactly what Lytro is doing. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ricoh or SONY takes them out within a couple of years.

  • Felonius

    While I understand and agree with things that others have said (“Look beyond the now and think of the impact when everyone else catches up…”, “new tool, new possibilities”), I think they’re going to shoot themselves in the foot and go bankrupt before “Ricoh or SONY takes them out within a couple of years” (at this price point, I don’t think the Ilium will make it a couple of years). This will truly be an awesome thing, but I wonder if they rushed to market at an unreasonable price point… (My first eReader had a penable/touch interface, great software, and ran on Linux so was highly customizable… It was also too expensive for the average consumer. This was about five years ago. The company went bankrupt, and other eReaders are finally starting to feel like they’re catching up…)

  • Dany Gosset

    rien ne vaux un bon objo, et le choisir pour son flou dû à ses lamelles de collimation , je pige tjrs pas leur système, (suis vieux lol), software alors….si oui, dxo optique et un apn 10 fois moins chère fait l’affaire non? oki je sort lol, suis dépassé par la technologie ….

  • Eric Bowen

    I would think that this would be the holy grail for macro-photography. Think focus-stacking.

  • Patch

    It would be nice to “pick my focus” after the fact if the pick point were actually in focus. Right now its more of a matter of “Pick your bokeh point” Like any other photo, it has a narrow band of sharp focus, and a fall of towards “Meh” that I can blur at choice.

    This won’t be a viable commercial technology until viewing technology catches up with it. far form the “pick your focus” this would excel as a source for 3D view monitors and immersive video systems, if they can handle the massive data inherent in the light field. But right now, its a smallish picture in a proprietary web plugin. unless it can be commercialized on a larger scale, it will remain a novelty and not a professional toolkit.

    for example, when photography started, it was a one off art form, a glass or metal plate with an image was handed off like a painting and hung in a gallery by a rich bored guy who could afford the box and chemicals to make it happen. It wasn’t until that image could be reproduced in print media that could be mass distributed that the hobby became a profession and it became a serious tool. Likewise, Lytro is going to have to pioneer new reproduction techniques to maximize the potential of this tech on the consumer end in print, digital image display and video to make the production end worth the expense.

  • kombizz

    interesting stuff