Lytro Announces Second Generation ILLUM Light Field DSLR Camera

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News Posted: Tue, Apr 22 2014 11:30 AM
Lytro tried to flip photography on its head a few years ago with the introduction of its original light-field camera. Sporting a funky design reminiscent of a kaleidoscope, the rectangular-shaped tube-like camera excelled at capturing the entire light field around an image, thereby allowing photographers to refocus photos and change their orientation after they've already been taken. Fast forward to today, Lytro is back with a second model -- ILLUM -- that's more functional (and more expensive) than the original.

Whereas the original Lytro debuted at $399, the Lytro ILLUM is a $1,599 camera, though it's available for pre-order at an introductory price of $1,499 through mid-July (original Lytro owners are eligible for a 20 percent discount). Why the massive price disparity? Lytro justifies the DSLR-territory pricing by having revamped the camera in several ways. It still uses light-field technology to capture images from different perspectives, but most everything else is different and/or upgraded from the original.

Lytro ILLUM Side

For one, it now looks like a camera instead of a kaleidoscope. The design is very much a modern one, but looks alone don't justify the price hike. It also has a 4-inch touchscreen display, a shutter button, SD memory card slot, removable battery, GPS, Wi-Fi, and a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor that's 2,000 percent more powerful than the one found in the original model.

Lytro ILLUM display Lytro ILLUM Top

Other specs include a custom-designed 40-megaray light field sensor, 8x optical zoom lens (30mm-250mm equivalent, constant f/2.0 aperture across the entire zoom range, 1/4000 of a second high-speed shutter, and extreme close-focus macro capability,

Lytro ILLUM Lens

"We’ve spent the last two years custom-building Lytro ILLUM to advance Light Field Photography to a whole new level. You said you wanted to see what light field could do with more horsepower and pro-grade features, and we heard you loud and clear," Lytro stated in a blog post. "Lytrol ILLUM will demonstrate the vast potential of this new category and give you the power to push the artistic frontier beyond anything we’ve experienced in the 175-year history of photography."



You can think of the snapshots as sort of living pictures -- a slightly dynamic moment caught in time versus a static 2D image. It's pretty gnarly, though whether Lytro will find a large audience willing to pay a premium price tag for the ILLUM is something that remains to be seen.

In addition to a $100 discount, those who pre-order an ILLUM will receive an exclusive commemorative engraving of the camera's production number.
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sevags replied on Tue, Apr 22 2014 2:48 PM

AWESOME!!!!!!!! the original Lytro camera is amazing just testing it out gave me goosebumps as I have never seen a camera do what Litro does. Unfortunately it came with a high price tag, strange form factor, no flash, small preview window, etc. The price tag is still high but this time around I definitely think it is more justified given that its specs are on par with dslr's and smart-cameras alike while offering features only found on the original Lytro. It is still out of my price range but if they come out with a $700~ dslr version I will buy in!

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MCaddick replied on Tue, Apr 22 2014 3:41 PM

Still way overpriced for a product that has an extremely limited use case scenario. Yes, its cool and all that, but ultimately a product that will be used a lot in the first 2 weeks, then shelved in favor of a 'real' camera with proper pro features rather than just a gimmick that even needs special software to appreciate the shots.

Also worth remembering that you cannot equate their 'megaray' numbers with megapixels. So their '40 megaray' spec means very little. The original Lytro had such woefully low resolution (why they chose the megaray description, to hide this fact), I think hurt sales a lot, this new one might be better, we'll see.

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sevags replied on Tue, Apr 22 2014 5:21 PM

MCaddick: The camera doesn't have a limited use scenario, but its uses are more useful to pro photographers. The ability to take absolutely any photo and focus it later make this one incredibly fast camera, sure high end DSLR's are fast but without the need to focus before the shot this camera is as fast if not faster for less than the cost of a pro DSLR. Photographers can actually be taking several different photos within just 1 photo rather than focus onto different area in several different pictures. Since you will me taking fewer photos you don't have to worry about memory cards filling up as fast or deleting images in the field to free up some room. All these features are great for artists, photographers, for publishing on the internet or in print, and imagine say a car accident claims photo that you can take and your insurance provider can focus in and out of different areas of an image rather than ask you to take multiple pictures of the same area. Finally what is this special software you are speaking of? The original Lytro and this new Illum both allow you to focus the images directly from the camera WITH NO software required. If you want you send an image for someone else to focus then yes that person would require the software on a computer, which is free, or a Lytro camera themselves.

Photographers are going to love this camera. I can't wait until the technology fits in our smartphones. 

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realneil replied on Tue, Apr 22 2014 10:30 PM

I like this camera, though I can't afford it.

The technology is impressive.

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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Dave_HH replied on Tue, Apr 22 2014 10:41 PM

I want one. We must get a review unit. :)

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realneil replied on Wed, Apr 23 2014 9:29 AM

Dave_HH:
I want one.

I agree,....this is pretty clean looking and would see a lot of use at my house.

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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