A little over a month ago, the revolutionary Lytro light-field camera became available for pre-order. But a few lucky pro photographers have been using the Lytro and its “living picture” technology for the last few months, and now we can see their stunning results.
Wired.com recently chatted with photographers Stephen Boxall and Richard Koci Hernandez, who have been using the Lytro for two months and four months, respectively. Above, you can see one of Boxall’s photos taken in a zero-gravity environment. Click around the image, and prepare to be amazed by an image that can change focus on the fly.
“The best thing about shooting the Lytro is that you have in your hands the biggest advance in photographic technology since we first started focusing light onto silver halides,” Boxall says. “It’s a magical thing to see the picture change and sharpen after you’ve taken it.”
Lytro’s camera is vastly different from the normal digital or film cameras you’re used to. To snap its images, it uses light-field technology, which positions an array of micro-lenses over the camera’s sensor. These micro-lenses capture up to 11 million rays of light. Because so much light is captured in a single image, you don’t need to worry about focusing when you shoot your picture — you can focus an image after the fact. Lytro calls this resulting interactive photograph a “living picture.”
In the photos in this post, you can click around to change the focus from a weightless drop of water, to someone floating in the foreground or background of the scene.
So is it hard to use?
“It’s as easy and intuitive and familiar as any normal point-and-shoot,” Hernandez says. “But to really see the benefits of a Lytro picture, you have to think differently, almost in 3-D.”
The camera itself has only three buttons: a power button, shutter button, and zoom button. At the rear of the rectangular device is a touchscreen LCD that you use to compose shots. The living pictures the Lytro camera takes are square-shaped, and most closely proximate a 6MP to 8MP image, in Hernandez’s opinion.
“There is no learning curve to operate the camera whatsoever — it is as simple as depressing the shutter,” Boxall says. But “to make creative images with great shifts of focus within the square format is challenging, both creatively and technically,” he says.
In its current form, this camera is a great tool for the amateur photographer, these two professionals suggest.