Lytro review

Price when reviewed

The Lytro light-field camera is different to most of the products we review here at PC Pro. Most are refinements of an existing idea – laptops with faster processors, tablets with higher-resolution displays, cameras with better low-light handling.

The Lytro, however, represents a huge leap forward, and introduces a completely new technology for capturing images: a new type of sensor called the “light-field” sensor, which is capable of snapping photos not only in a flat plane, with one point of focus, but at multiple focal lengths simultaneously, allowing the photographer to change the focus point after a picture has been taken.

With a standard camera, if you’ve focused on the wrong point by accident, there’s nothing you can do to rescue it; with the Lytro, once you’ve imported your images into the Lytro desktop software, you simply click the area you want to bring into focus, and it’s sharp as a tack.

Click anywhere in the frame above to refocus the image. To see the perspective shift effect in action, click and hold, then move your mouse around.

The desktop software also allows you to convert photographs after they’ve been imported to give a perspective shift view, whereby the whole photo remains in focus. We’ve embedded a shot above so you can see it in action. We’ve used code provided by the Lytro website, where images can be posted, viewed and shared in their full glory.

This is seriously clever technology, and it works by dint of an extra layer of microlenses, placed in front of a standard CMOS, which allow the camera to measure not only the intensity of light, but also the angle of incidence of the light rays hitting the microlenses. The camera uses this extra information to work out where the light would have fallen had the camera been focused on a different point.

From a technological standpoint it’s a thrilling development. And in the Lytro it works astonishingly well. In the camera’s default Everyday mode, you can simply point and shoot without having to worry about focus. It doesn’t give you unlimited depth of field, however – according to a Lytro spokesperson, it’s the equivalent of setting a compact camera to f/20.

The hidden advantage of light-field photography is that the Lytro’s aperture of f/2 remains wide open when shooting, all the way through the camera’s 8x optical zoom range, delivering impressive light-gathering capabilities, plus the ability to blur the foreground and background smoothly when focusing on different points.

There’s a manual mode for those who want to be creative, allowing the adjustment of sensitivity between ISO 80 and 3200, and the shutter speed between 1/250sec and 8sec. You can set the focus point as well, with a tap to the rear touchscreen, and coupled with the camera’s ability to focus at a millimetre away from the lens, it’s possible to produce dramatic macro images.

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating11-megarays
Camera screen size1.5in
Camera optical zoom range8x
Camera maximum resolution1,080 x 1,080

Weight and dimensions

Dimensions41 x 112 x 41mm (WDH)


Battery type includedLi-ion

Other specifications

Built-in flash?no
Aperture rangef2 - f2
Camera minimum focus distance0.00m
Shortest focal length (35mm equivalent)35
Longest focal length (35mm equivalent)280
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed1/250
Maximum (slowest) shutter speed8s
Bulb exposure mode?no
RAW recording mode?yes
Exposure compensation rangeN/A
ISO range80 - 3200
Selectable white balance settings?no
Manual/user preset white balane?no
Progam auto mode?no
Shutter priority mode?yes
Aperture priority mode?no
Fully auto mode?yes
Burst frame rateN/A
Exposure bracketing?no
White-balance bracketing?no
Memory-card typeN/A
Viewfinder coverage100%
LCD resolution16k
Secondary LCD display?no
Video/TV output?no
Body constructionAluminium
Tripod mounting thread?no
Data connector typeMicro-USB

Manual, software and accessories

Software suppliedLytro Desktop
Accessories suppliedWrist strap, lens cap

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