Four months ago, the start-up company Lytro promised that it was going to revolutionize the world of digital cameras, and just recently, they finally announced their first camera. The Lytro cameras boast new cutting edge technology that lives up to the hype that the company stirred up, allowing consumers to take, and experience pictures in a whole new way. This however, doesn’t change the fact that less and less people are buying point and shoot digital cameras, since many people simply choose to take pictures with their smartphones instead.
The Lytro camera
The Lytro camera has two versions, and comes in three colors. One version costs $399, comes with 8 gigabytes of memory, which is good for 350 pictures, and is available in graphite, and electric blue. . The other, more expensive model costs $499, but can hold 750 pictures with its 16 gigabytes of internal memory and comes in red hot. These cameras will be available for purchase in early 2012.
What it does
The reason why Lytro cameras are so innovative is because the pictures they take can be focused and re-focused again and again after the picture has been taken. After the picture is taken, you upload it to your computer and using the Lytro software that comes with the camera, you are able to change the focal point of the picture to whatever you want it to be, as many times as you want. This “shoot now, focus later” way of taking pictures makes it easy for the average person to make pictures that look professional, without having to be a professional photographer. Using the software, you are also able to seamlessly make your pictures 3D or 2D as well. (Click here to see it in action)
How it works
In order to capture pictures, Lytro cameras use a new type of sensor called a light field sensor, which was created from over ten years of research done by the CEO of the company, Dr. Ren Ng. Traditional cameras have sensors that only capture a single plane of light, but the Lytro camera captures the entire light field at the moment the picture is taken. This is what makes it possible to go back and change the focal point of any picture. In addition to that, the camera does not have to worry about auto-focusing when the picture is taken, it has an instant shutter so you can take a picture instantly.
Even though the Lytro camera definitely has some strong selling points, it may be fighting a losing battle. There’s a saying among photographers that goes, “The best camera is the one that’s with you” and since smartphones are something that people always have on them, many simply decide to use them as their daily cameras. Last year, the iPhone 4 became the most popular camera on Flickr, beating out high-grade cameras like the Nikon D90, Canon EOS Rebel T1i, and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. The traditional point and shoot cameras are being phased out by smartphones, and with the steep price tag of $400 to $500, the Lytro might not be any different.
Instead of competing with smartphones however, this technology could be implemented directly into smartphones. Although smartphone cameras today have powerful 8 megapixel cameras, most of them still suffer from shutter delay because of auto focus, and it is sometimes hard to take a perfect picture. Implementing Lytro camera technology in smartphones would fix the problems that smartphone cameras have, and would make the overall experience for the consumer much better.
Although the technology is still relatively new, technology advances very quickly and it is definitely possible for this new technology to get to the point that it can be used in smartphones. In order for Lytro to thrive, it will have to expand its reach in order to avoid simply being a novelty and this is definitely one of the better ways to do it.