Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lytro Camera, Three Hardware Things I'd Change

Into the Lens

I've had my Lytro camera long enough to have a fairly good understanding of its strengths and weaknesses. This time around I'm going to focus on my three biggest hardware related complaints.

To be fair, I love the industrial design of this product. It is sleek, attractive and easy to use. Lytro did a great job of putting together a next generation camera that doesn't sacrifice ergonomics and functionality in favor of aesthetics. There are some kinks however.

First off is the lens cover. I like the basic idea but it suffers from two major flaws. First of all the magnet that is supposed to keep the lens cap attached to the front of the camera is weak and the cover comes off very easily. This kind of defeats the purpose of having a lens cap in the first place. The second problem is that there is no way to attach the lens cap to the camera when the camera is in use. I was going to bevel one corner of mine and drill a small hole so I could attach a piece of string that would attach it to the wrist strap but I've already lost the lens cap for the second time.

My second complaint is the LCD. Yes, it's low resolution. I'm actually OK with that. The problem is its very dim when viewed from above and less than stellar when viewed from the sides or above. This makes it difficult to frame shots since the LCD is the only way to see what the field of view is for the picture you are taking. This problem is compounded by the fact that the LCD stays on when the camera is plugged in for download and charging. It takes a long time to download and process images from the Lytro camera so I generally wander away from my Mac and return hours or days later. In the meantime my Lytro's LCD has been on the whole time. I may be imagining it but I think it has gotten even dimmer as a result. Hopefully Lytro will update the camera firmware to automatically turn off the LCD after a few minutes.

My final complaint is also about the LCD. The touch screen isn't as sensitive as I'd like, particularly when I'm in creative mode. I'll get a shot framed and need to adjust where the focus is and have to touch the screen multiple times to get the right focus. Meanwhile the hand holding the camera has drifted in part due to the pressure I have to exert on the screen and thus I have to readjust.

If I had to pick only one of the three to fix it would be the LCD. That really is the cameras Achilles heel right now from a hardware perspective.

Into the Lens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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