Lytro – A revolution in picture taking

by Tim Chow

Have you ever taken a photo to later find out it was poor quality? That little window of opportunity to capture a magic moment never recorded because the camera was out of focus.

That could all change with the introduction of Lytro, a camera that allows you to refocus a picture after it’s been taken. It’s been hailed as a revolution in photography. Those of us who don’t really know how to get the most from a camera will be particularly interested in this gadget. With dozens of settings, picking the right one and quickly can be lead to you missing a precious moment.

As there is no need to focus, its zero lag means you can take snap in an instant. The technology lets it grab more light detail than normal cameras giving it the ability to refocus pictures a day, month or even years later. Processing more light allows it to work in low light conditions so there’s no flash necessary. Attributing to its minimalistic style, there are few buttons needed – one to take a photo, a power button and another to operate the 8X optical zoom.

What’s striking is its shape. It doesn’t conform to traditional box shaped cameras. Instead it’s more akin to a toy kaleidoscope. Despite the suggestion of being pocket sized, its long and square form will make it difficult to fit in your trouser pocket which is a big disadvantage. Portability is key to a camera, which is why a good camera on your phone is ideal for impromptu shots.

Lytro also allow you to host your pictures onto their website. From here, it makes it easy to share your pics on Facebook and Twitter. Friends and family will have the opportunity to refocus shots too.

It’s by no means the finished product, but it’s a start. In its present state, it may be wise to hold fire while they develop the tech more. For example, it’s not possible to focus the whole picture. The software is only available on Macs with a Windows version in the works. Taking this further, Lytro suggest the technology can be transferred to video too, but there is no estimation of when this will be possible.

While this tech might not satisfy photograph purists, being an avid picture taker on holiday, this kind of technology really interests me. Negating the need to fix settings means being able to take many more photos and worrying about the right shot later. It takes point and shoot cameras to a whole different level.

Would you buy a Lytros camera? Is it merely a gimmick? Tell us in the comments section below.

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