CNET First Look
Lytro Light Field CameraThe Lytro Light Field Camera rethinks photography with its unique hardware and fascinating image output. But if you're not a gadget-loving, Mac-owning early adopter, steer clear until Lytro makes improvements.
Hey, there. I'm Josh Goldman, Senior Editor with CNET. And this is a giant lipstick. No, of course not. It's the Lytro Light Field Camera. And if you don't already know what it is, it's really time you came out of your cave. So what's unusual about the Lytro aside from the shape that is, it's sensor captures not just the color and intensity of light but the vector direction of the light rays. When you press the shutter release, this little dimple on top, light is collected from all directions which the camera software translates into what's basically a 3D map of whatever was photographed giving it the unique capability of shooting fast without the need to focus first. Then when you get back to your computer, you use Lytro software to convert your shots in to what they call Living Pictures. It can be refocused again and again. And then you can share them online and let others refocus them again and again. And if that doesn't do it for you, you can convert them in to small lifeless JPEGs but you'd really be missing the point of the camera. As for using the Lytro, it's both simple and complicated. There is an almost none existent touch sensitive strip that controls the 8X zoom lens, power button and micro USB port on the bottom and a very tiny touch screen with terrible viewing angles making it difficult to frame shots unless it's directly in front of your eyes. You get 2 shooting modes everyday and creative. The everyday mode let's the camera set the refocusing range. That's the distance between objects in the foreground and background that can be refocused and creative mode can be used for Macro Shots or portraits with soft blurry backgrounds but there's less of a refocusing effect. Now, what I meant by simple and complicated is that it can be used like a simple point to shoot but getting good interesting shots for refocusing takes practice in creativity. If that sounds cool to you then definitely consider getting one. However, be warned. The camera or should I say the camera software is sort of a working progress. Lytro has new features plan but when you get to use them is depending on the development schedule. So it's up to you if you're okay with that. Regardless, it's a cool camera with some cool technology and we're looking forward to seeing what it can do in the feature. I'm Josh Goldman and that's the Lytro Light Field Camera.