Lytro Announces Second Generation ILLUM Light Field DSLR Camera

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.