At Long Last, Hands-on With Lytro’s Living Camera
The technology hasn’t changed since its June debut. Under the hood, Lytro’s camera uses a new technology called light field photography, which allows for so-called “living pictures” that can be refocused after they are taken, in addition to performing a few other tricks.
What is new is the design of the camera, which until last week had been carefully hidden from public view. It’s only about an inch high and wide, and several inches long — mostly to accommodate the eight-inch zoom. It’s got just two buttons — one for turning on the camera, the other for pressing the shutter. Other moves, such as zooming and viewing pictures, are accomplished by manipulating the multitouch display on the rear of the camera, or a touch-sensitive zone along the top of the camera.
In addition to getting to take my first picture with the camera, I got to watch Lytro demonstrate it on stage.
While Lytro’s images have become well-known for their ability to be refocused, one of the harder-to-explain features is the 3-D-like feature, achievable through something called parallax. Luckily, this can be illustrated with an animated image, like the one below, from Lytro’s onstage demo with Walt Mossberg.
The picture I took of the AsiaD stage is a more typical light field composition, with various spots that can be brought into focus. Try clicking on the iPhone screen, the camera viewfinder and the stage to see the different focal points.