I’ve written before about the Lytro light field camera because it is a fascinating product that departs radically from our concept of how photography is done—a concept based on nearly 200 years of photographic developments. Briefly, a Lytro camera captures the images of light rays coming from several different directions. The result is an image that can be focused after the fact.
DPReview’s video review shows you how the Lytro works and then predicts that the tradeoffs made by the camera are too severe. As a result of capturing all of the extra light-field information, the Lytro camera produces 1.2Mpixel images. Imagine trying to sell a 1.2Mpixel camera in an era when simple point-and-shoot cameras have 10Mpixel resolutions and even mobile phones—where the camera is included “free” with the phone—capture at least 5Mpixels per image.
That’s often the pitfall of new tech toys: light-field photography is potentially a cool idea but consumers may be asked to pay a price for the cool factor. On the other hand, the Lytro camera may be a poster child for Clayton Christensen’s “Innovator’s Dilemma.” The early technology may be too poor and incompetent to make a dent in the established technology, but if it survives it will get better and better until it can compete.
Time will tell.
Meanwhile, here’s the video:
For more on the Lytro Light Field camera, see “Lytro makes $399/499 light-field camera available to early adopters” and “Lytro’s new camera will let you adjust focus point of an image long after taking the shot”