Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lytro Camera, First Day

An extremely shallow depth of field, a common ...

There are a lot of things I love about this camera. There are also some things that I'm not very happy with. This isn't surprising given the fact that it is a first generation product with first generation firmware. Some of the limitations will hopefully be taken care of in future software upgrades but others will have to wait for next generation hardware. I'm fine with that. I've been on the bleeding edge of technology before so none of this is a surprise to me. I bought this camera knowing it was essentially a technology preview.

I'm going to insert a disclaimer here. I’m not a photographer, amateur or otherwise. I have only the vaguest notion of what an F Stop is and please don’t quiz me on any of the terminology because odds are I’m going to fail badly on any such test. Keep that in mind when reading anything I write that gets into the realm of photography.

As it stand now the Lytro camera is a fantastic but very limited tool. It is NOT a general purpose camera. The cost is too high and the features are very limited. Want to take pictures at night or in low light situations? It’s going to be difficult to get good results. You’re most likely going to have a lot of graininess and poor color. There are other problems as well, all of which have been discussed fairly thoroughly elsewhere so I won't go into them here.

One thing I really like is the macro capabilities of the camera, particularly when you go into creative mode where you can pick your focus point. Of course you can change the focus as much as you want later but it is still nice to be able to compose and see your shot right away.

What really excites me though is the promise of the future. All of the software feels more than a little unfinished but Lytro appears to have big plans. Support of rendering three dimensional images and infinite depth of field for instance. Lytro has some heavy hitters backing them so there is a pretty good chance they'll be given the opportunity to polish their first offering and continue to deliver additional products in the future. I certainly hope so. I'd be very surprised if Lytro is cash flow positive at this point but I think they can be some day. Whether they do it solo or partner with one of the big players will be interesting to see. The much less desirable outcome would be an eventual liquidation with somebody else picking up the IP later.

Image via Wikipedia

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