Lytro digital camera evaluation

Lytro camera review

Do not let that cute design idiot you. Lytro, the world’s first business mild subject digital camera, is the end result of almost twenty years of analysis — a venture that when occupied a whole wall facade, and has since been miniaturized into one thing that matches within the palm of your hand. A powerful feat, positive, however not as arresting as the top outcome: the power to refocus footage, even after you’ve got taken them.

To realize such magical endeavors the Lytro digital camera makes use of heaps of customized software program (armed with a customized .lfp file format) coupled with some critical silicon to measure not simply colour or the depth of sunshine, however its path, too. The latter is achieved with an eleven “megaray” sensor, which is bolted to an f/ 8x optical zoom lens, all encased inside that glossy physique. In search of to save lots of us from unfocused mishaps, the technological tour de drive additionally unlocks some appreciable artistic potential. So, is the $399 shooter going to revolutionize images as we all know it? Or does the Lytro’s first foray into shopper electronics fall prey to the shortcomings of product? By now you need to know the drill: rendezvous with us previous the break to seek out out.

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Lytro digital camera


  • Refocuses photographs after the very fact
  • Stellar construct high quality.
  • Easy however intuitive UI


  • Low decision (~1MP) captures
  • Poor display
  • Iffy low-mild efficiency
  • No Home windows-suitable software program but


Lytro’s debut digital camera solely shines when taking nicely-lit footage with a number of focus layers, however the know-how is promising, and we suspect it is solely a matter of time earlier than all cameras work this manner.


Lytro camera review

It feels as if Lytro’s engineers have been incapable of closing the chapter on their masterpiece till they stripped it of every little thing however the necessities.

Regardless of the inherent complexity stuffed inside, the Lytro digital camera’s exterior could not be extra easy. That is excessive-reward: it is not typically that we encounter a product fairly this refined, so minimalist in its sensibility. It feels as if Lytro’s engineers have been incapable of closing the chapter on their masterpiece till that they had stripped it of every thing however the necessities. This appears that rather more spectacular, too, if you keep in mind that is the work of a startup — one unveiling its first piece of hardware, at that. Different CE makers simply acquired placed on discover.

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Lytro unboxing

Lytro camera review

However let’s delve deeper into the intricacies of what makes this factor tick. The design is a jarring mix of metallic and rubber, and the general impact is nothing in need of putting. For starters, we’ve an anodized aluminum barrel, which homes the f/ 8x optical zoom lens. That, in flip, is fused to a rubberized dice the place the sensor, numerous electrics and touchscreen all reside. It is value noting that the rubber portion is the place you will spend all of your time, as that is the place all the spartan controls reside. Issues like a shutter button and capacitive-contact zoom slider up prime, adopted by an influence button and a micro-USB door instantly reverse on its backside.

Lytro camera review

Finishing the tour, let’s flip our consideration to the 1.forty six-inch touchscreen adorning the again aspect. Regardless of its premium glass development and responsive efficiency, Lytro does not fairly make up for the poor high quality of the show itself. A few of that disappointment stems from its unimpressive 128 x 128 decision, positive, however extra worrisome is its tendency to scrub out as quickly as you flip it ever-so barely off-angle.

Lytro camera review

That is an issue as a result of pulling off these cool depth-of-subject photographs means most of the time you will be contorting the hardware at odd angles. We additionally took challenge with its efficiency in vibrant mild — get used to creating shade together with your hand cupped to the unit as you attempt to body photographs out within the wild.

Having a poor show on a bit of photographic package would usually be a bummer, if not a deal-breaker. Finally, although, it’s going to hit you that the digital camera workflow you’ve got been working towards in your complete life does not essentially apply right here. Quickly sufficient, you will cease worrying about focus, and understand Lytro liberates you to dwell on composition and publicity, the latter of which you’ll be able to tweak by tapping the display. Okay, not everybody might be snug adopting the “shoot first ask questions later” mantra, however that is how we usually used it outdoor — a behavior made sweeter with the assistance of some quick shutter releases. Naturally, your mileage will range relying in your method (human expertise nonetheless do rely for one thing right here), however as we’ll clarify, we have been very happy with the outcomes, as long as we had satisfactory lighting on the prepared.

Consumer interface

Lytro camera review

Lytro’s thrown warning to the wind and began anew, adopting the identical simplistic strategy on the inside as on its exterior.

If we’re trustworthy, the present consumer state of digital camera interfaces is fairly abysmal. Years upon years of crud, together with leftovers from directional-pushed UX, doesn’t a cheerful Engadget reviewer make. Fortunately, Lytro’s thrown warning to the wind and began anew, adopting the identical simplistic strategy on the inside as on its exterior. For starters, taking photographs is so simple as waking the unit (both by urgent its energy or shutter button) and urgent the shutter to take an image. To zoom, slide your finger alongside the capacitive zoom bar up prime. Swiping up on the touchscreen reveals that dock you see above, with three tappable icons, which allow “artistic mode” (extra on that in a bit) and present remaining storage and respective battery capacities. That gesture additionally reveals a Settings icon (the cog within the higher proper nook), which is the place you will discover the About, Delete All and Manufacturing unit Reset menus.

Earlier than we get forward of ourselves, let’s speak just a little bit extra about artistic mode, the one various capturing setting this digital camera gives. Tuned for finer management, on this mode the digital camera is much less apprehensive about maximizing a shot’s future refocus potential — primarily a flowery means of claiming it’s going to now allow you to take a lot nearer macro photographs with a shallower and flatter depth of area, which suggests much less of that Lytro-refocusing magic applies later. Getting began, you will know it is lively because of an onscreen blue border. Artistic mode provides you entry to the complete vary of the digital camera’s optical zoom (8x versus “Day-after-day” mode’s three.5x) along with enabling faucet-to-focus (as an alternative of the default mode’s extra restrictive faucet for publicity).

As soon as you’ve got truly taken a shot, viewing your creations is so simple as swiping to the left. From there you possibly can constantly swipe left again in time, or proper to return to the viewfinder. Fortunately, in the event you’ve perused via a variety of pictures, you do not have to endlessly swipe to get again into seize mode — one press of the shutter button and also you’re prepared to start out capturing once more. Sliding throughout the zoom bar whereas viewing these creations reveals a three x three grid view, just like how most digital cameras handle photographs nowadays. And for those who swipe upward whereas viewing a single photograph, the identical dock seems as earlier than, besides this time you’ve got received a delete button occupying the leftmost spot the place artistic mode lived.

Picture high quality, efficiency and battery life

Finally, it is of no consequence how lovely the hardware or onboard software program is that if a digital camera fails at its one objective: taking footage. With Lytro issues are somewhat difficult on this division, insofar because the digital camera excels in sure conditions, whereas placing on a mediocre efficiency in others. Earlier than we stroll you thru the outcomes, it is value setting the expectation that you simply will not be getting any poster-sized prints right here. Photographs from the Lytro digital camera have 1080 x 1080 decision — ok, the corporate says, for five x 7 prints.

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Lytro samples

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Lytro low-mild samples

Properly-lit snaps with two or extra layers of focus, like those above, are actually the place Lytro comes into its personal. With correct lighting, colours are vibrant and usually correct throughout the vary, and Lytro had no drawback conquering extra tough photographs with highlights and shadows. Sadly, we will not say the identical about nicely-lit, however focally flat lengthy distance or panorama photographs, the place footage persistently lacked sharpness and element. When you’re into depth-of-subject photographs, the Lytro’s a worthy companion; simply be cognizant you will not be sending your present shooter to the graveyard.

Sadly, issues do not get higher relating to low-mild efficiency. Sure, in concept, that large f/ aperture lets lots of mild in, however put together your self for copious quantities of noise. Excessive-distinction photographs taken throughout a seashore-aspect hike handed, however most of the time you will need to sift by way of fairly a number of iffy photographs with copious noise earlier than discovering a suitable one.

Lytro camera review

On the upside, although, shutter efficiency and zooming are each a lot better. Booting is close to instantaneous and first captures, with their reassuring click on, are able to go lower than a second later. Photographs thereafter proceed at a speedy clip — speedy sufficient, definitely, for us to catch waves breaking or a cat mid-yawn. In fact, this is not speedy-hearth capturing on the order of a DSLR, however the fast reflexes of Lytro’s digital camera continues to be worlds higher than most smartphones and, we might hazard, most level-and-shoots as nicely. Picture high quality when zoomed at full bore (in artistic mode, naturally) is comparatively good, and, as an added bonus, all that lens motion occurs with the unit’s barrel, which means there isn’t any lens protrusion right here.

As for battery life we have no complaints both. You must get a minimum of a day journey’s value of pictures from the on-board lithium-ion battery. We’re speaking anyplace from 200-300 photographs per cost, which contemplating the onboard processing we discovered completely inside the vary of acceptable. Charging is a strict micro-USB solely affair, though for these travellng sans pc, we’re informed there might be a $19 “quick charger” arriving within the coming months.

Software program

Lytro camera review

You may need missed the passing reference in our intro, however the Lytro digital camera does not output your run-of-the-mill JPEG. As an alternative all that directional mild info is stuffed right into a customized format the corporate calls a “Mild subject image file,” or .lfp for brief. Ergo, to do something with an image that originated from a Lytro digital camera, you will naturally want the corporate’s accompanying homegrown desktop software. The excellent news is the installer’s preloaded on the digital camera — simply plug it in and comply with the prompts to make your means via the installer package deal. However we hope you additionally caught that installer package deal nuance, as right here comes the dangerous information. For now, Lytro’s desktop software program is Mac solely (requiring 10.6.6 or above), though the corporate says a Home windows model will comply with sooner or later this yr.

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Lytro Desktop Software program

Upon firing up the desktop software program for the primary time, you will understand you must full a one-time backup of the digital camera’s calibration knowledge earlier than continuing. After conquering that, .lfp information begin copying to the disk (with beforehand starred photographs given first bidding), whereas the suite concurrently begins processing every RAW-like .lfp into one thing the desktop suite can digest. You will know when the processing is full, as one after the other, grayscale thumbnails give method to colour replacements, which suggests they’re prepared for some TLC, courtesy of the suite’s rudimentary modifying chops.

Lytro camera review

Relating to modifying all you’ll be able to actually do with the software program is refocus to your coronary heart’s content material (by clicking totally different spots within the image), actuate picture rotations and convey up a further information on a seize with extra in depth knowledge (like shutter, ISO, focal size and aperture values). Which may not sound like quite a bit, and it is not, however Lytro guarantees it’s going to shortly iterate with new options over time. And since these .lfp information are untouched, new performance just like the earlier tech demos the corporate has proven (like shifting perspective and making photographs all-in-focus) will come to photographs you’ve got taken in the present day in a future launch.

Lytro camera review

The ultimate piece of the software program puzzle pertains to sharing. Upon logging right into a account, one can add captures to their very own gallery on the corporate’s web site. Footage uploaded might be publicly seen or personal and moreover the desktop software program helps direct uploads to a related Fb account. Selecting the latter creates an inline “dwelling” Flash-powered embed on the social community, which buddies can then work together with by refocusing inline on Fb to their hearts content material. Moreover there’s help for Twitter and HTML embeds, though you will need to navigate over to the meant image within the Lytro gallery portal and click on share buttons to finish these duties out of your browser.

Lytro camera review

Lastly, these trying to get their sharing-on old-fashioned, can export JPEGs from a secret choice within the desktop software program, which solely rears its head if you proper-click on on a thumbnail. Sneaky.


Lytro camera review

Whereas there’s a lot proper with Lytro’s debut shooter, it’ll, even at its greatest, be not more than one other accent dwelling in your digital camera bag. Though we’re keen about its delectably easy UI and lovely hardware (its washed-out display not withstanding), its lack of ability to shine in restricted capturing circumstances means you will by no means be capable of simply make the Lytro your sole photographic companion.

That is saddening — it is apparent Lytro’s onto one thing big, and we’re impatiently awaiting the day when cameras of all sizes make use of the know-how on show right here. Whether or not the corporate will understand our dream by constructing out a full line of Lightray-outfitted cameras stays to be seen, however with a such a strong technical and groundbreaking basis there actually is just one method however up.

The top recreation is lengthy and these are the earliest of days. For the images aficionados within the viewers, $399 is chump change in comparison with the sorts of glass in your assortment, making Lytro a no brainer and worthy companion of area in your digital camera bag. For the remainder of us, although, endurance is a advantage.

Replace: As of July twenty fourth, there’s lastly Home windows help for the Lytro digital camera.

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