Can we recommend the Lytro as a replacement for your current snapper? Although it’s fun to use at first, the answer has to be no. The biggest problem is that the images are very low resolution: the desktop software and web galleries display images in a small box in the centre of your screen; they can be zoomed, but can’t be viewed full-screen. Another potential hurdle is the Windows software is 64-bit only.
Even the accompanying iOS app, which allows you to view images interactively, can’t show the images full-screen. Handily, you can transfer images direct to your phone via the Lytro’s built-in Wi-Fi chip. It’s possible to export images as JPEG files, which gives you a larger photo, but images are still only 1,080 x 1,080 in size (1.2 megapixels) and can no longer be refocused once exported.
The other issue is the hardware itself. Physically, the Lytro is like no other camera you’ll have used – not in a good way. It takes the form of an extended square tube with a lens at one end and a tiny 1.5in, 128 x 128 touchscreen at the other. The shutter release is on the top of this tube with a touch-sensitive zoom track behind it; on the bottom is a power button and a micro-USB socket for charging and data transfer. Irritatingly, there’s no tripod thread, although one can be added via a slide-on collar (£20 inc VAT).
To put it bluntly, it’s an awkward device to use. The screen has dreadful viewing angles, so you have to look at it directly head-on to frame your picture, and it’s horribly dim. In bright sunlight we had a tough time seeing anything at all on it.
The form factor makes it impossible to get a comfortable one-handed grip without cramping our fingers up, and it’s tricky to frame photos accurately, with a level horizon. This is important, as the desktop software allows no cropping or rotation.
Finally, the fact that the camera uses a compact-camera-sized sensor, which already imparts a naturally long depth of field, means you have to try quite hard to produce the sort of attractive shifts in focus of which the technology is capable. We found it worked best with close-up subjects.
We can see light-field technology making its way into all sorts of cameras over the next few years, from smartphones right the way up to serious DSLRs, with dramatic consequences for the way we view and carry out digital photography. However, don’t imagine for one moment that your first light-field camera should be a Lytro. It’s a toy, no more, no less – and with the 8GB model costing £400, it’s an expensive one at that.
|Camera megapixel rating||11-megarays|
|Camera screen size||1.5in|
|Camera optical zoom range||8x|
|Camera maximum resolution||1,080 x 1,080|
Weight and dimensions
|Dimensions||41 x 112 x 41mm (WDH)|
|Battery type included||Li-ion|
|Aperture range||f2 - f2|
|Camera minimum focus distance||0.00m|
|Shortest focal length (35mm equivalent)||35|
|Longest focal length (35mm equivalent)||280|
|Minimum (fastest) shutter speed||1/250|
|Maximum (slowest) shutter speed||8s|
|Bulb exposure mode?||no|
|RAW recording mode?||yes|
|Exposure compensation range||N/A|
|ISO range||80 - 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 rate||N/A|
|Secondary LCD display?||no|
|Tripod mounting thread?||no|
|Data connector type||Micro-USB|
Manual, software and accessories
|Software supplied||Lytro Desktop|
|Accessories supplied||Wrist strap, lens cap|