admin
Gimel Vav PRO 2:42am, 12 November 2011
THE GOOD
The Colors
The colors are sophisticated and muted. I'm glad they provided a charcoal option.

Technology
Lytro Light Field Sensor and Lytro Light Field Engine 1.0. This is the main feature. Is it not? This allows control over the depth of field and 3D with a single lens. Supposedly, it allows lower-light shots than the aperture (ƒ/2) and shutter speed (unknown) would normally allow. We don't know what the maximum equivalent ASA sensitivity of the sensor is. The square sensor makes composition slightly tricky for people who are not used to a square format. Many professionals actually prefer a square format, so this is very interesting. We don't know what the real resolution of the sensor is.

Lens
8x optical zoom; Constant ƒ/2 lens. The optical zoom is nice, but we don't know what the 35mm equivalent in terms of focal length is, so we don't know the real range. An ƒ/2 lens is considered fast, but not "super-fast". We don't know the equivalent maximum ASA of the sensor. It's interesting that the maximum aperture is constant over the entire length of the zoom lens. This kind of makes sense that they can use an afocal zoom because Lytro technology precludes focusing. We don't know what the minimum focusing distance is, but it seems to be extremely small again because of the Lytro technology. There are samples of macros on their web page. We don't know what the shutter speed is, so we may not have control over blurring. We don't know how well the camera does with action shots like sports or wedding photography. We don't know anything about the performance of the lens - flaring, distortion, etc. - when zoomed in all the way or zoomed out all the way.

Controls
Power button, Shutter button, Zoom slider, Touchscreen. I like simple, uncluttered controls. I like the use of a zoom slider. This makes it fast and less likely to fail than a motorized zoom. The touchscreen is small. Touchscreen interfaces are always subject to being counter-intuitive and poorly designed. I hope they don't make those mistakes. You can use the touchscreen to control the exposure.

THE BAD
The Price
$499 for the red 16G model. $399 for the graphite and blue 8G models. You can't mix and match. If you want 16G of internal memory which you cannot augment or expand, you must purchase the red model. This price seems a bit steep to me considering the other features, or rather the lack of features. Apparently they feel that the cool new technology warrants being able to charge this for a camera with no flash capability, no tripod threads, no self-timer, a tiny preview screen, no viewfinder, no video capabilities, no memory card slots, no manual mode, and I'm probably leaving out some other missing features.

Storage
Storage is built-in and fixed. There are no slots for memory cards. 16G for the red model. 8G for the charcoal and blue models. This translates to 750 pictures for the red model and 350 for the other two. Really? My VistaQuest VQ2005 which originally sold for $19 has a card slot. I have some cameras that are basically a card reader with a camera built-in. They couldn't put a card slot on this camera? Very odd. Perhaps the issue was memory write speed or something like that. I would have chosen to make the more professional-looking charcoal colored model the one with more memory. Of course, this also precludes the use of special cards like the WiFi card.

Missing Stuff
No flash capability. They claim that you don't need a flash. This might be true. There are some fairly low-light examples on their site. However, it would still be good to have an LED light source, perhaps even infrared for complete darkness like many other cameras have. Adding LEDs is not that expensive. Even some smart phones have them. No tripod threads. It's not very expensive to add this either. Assuming that some shots will require long exposures you might need to stabilize the camera. This also helps with self portraits which leads us to our next item. No self-timer. Maybe there is a self-timing option on the touchscreen menu, but it isn't mentioned. Apparently we don't have control over the shutter speed, but this isn't mentioned either. So, we don't know how well this camera does at high-speed photography or long exposure photography. They don't have examples of either on their site. No viewfinder. Personally, I think every camera in the price range should have a viewfinder or some way of lining up your shots in bright daylight. No video capabilities. No memory card slots. Apparently no control over the shutter speed. I'm probably leaving out some other missing features.

THE UGLY
Display
1.46 in | 33 mm back-lit LCD display with glass touchscreen. The screen is too small. They wanted to keep the overall size of the camera down and give it a sleek look, but there are $20 cameras in drug stores with larger screens than this. We don't know how well this does in daylight and there are no viewfinder or pop-up sights.

Battery
Built-in Long-life Li-Ion internal battery. I have to put this under "ugly" because we don't really know what "Long-life" means. And, what happens when the battery starts to lose charging capacity. Do you have to replace the entire camera? I guess the implication is that if you fully charge the battery, then it will last long enough to shoot 750 shots on the red model and that's all you need. There is no flash which uses up lots of power, and there is no video mode which also uses up more power. So, perhaps this isn't so bad.

Light Field Resolution
11 Megarays: the number of light rays captured by the light field sensor. What? This reeks of "interpolated" specifications, like when a camera company says, "11 Megapixels (*Interpolated)". They want to sell it as something that sounds like an 11 megapixel camera even though the sensor probably only has a true resolution of 5 megapixels or less. This is interesting information, but misleading. Just tell us how many megapixels the sensor is. I think the actual resolution is so low that people would be saying, "They want $500 for a five megapixel camera? Are they crazy?". The answer is not misdirection. The answer is to adjust the price of the camera accordingly.

Software
Includes a free desktop application for importing, processing and interacting with living pictures from the camera. It is built for Mac OS and requires Mac OS X 10.6 or higher. A Windows application is in development. This is ridiculous. Steven Jobs is dead. Hopefully, that means we can get back on track to platform-independent and cloud-based applications. This single feature - the dependency on the Mac OS - is one of the major things preventing me from purchasing this camera at this time. Is this the only way we can crop pictures? Is this the only way to convert the pictures to anaglyphs or print them out?


I believe this technology has potential, but I think the combination of limited features and bad price-point might just doom this camera to failure. It's a shame really. We might be able to pick them up for a few bucks from a clearance center in a few years, but we may not have the computers to run the specialized software required to deal with the proprietary image files. I hope this company reevaluates things and wises up before then. Otherwise, this will simply become a niche product with a small, but loyal following. At its core, this is a snapshot camera. Lytro should remember that.
DepecheTraff 7 years ago
I too was wondering about what, exactly, 11 megarays means. So I hunted around and found the following on Lytro's support site (see support.lytro.com/entries/20558086-what-options-do-i-have...) :

"You can chose a focus point and export to a 1080x1080 pixel JPG"
admin
Gimel Vav PRO 7 years ago
1080 x 1080 is one megapixel. $499 for a one megapixel camera. That's why they don't want to advertise it that way.
Clint Atkinson 6 years ago
Thanks for this great review, Gimel.
I backed off from purchasing, even though I was on the early list.
1. I don't use Mac.
2. That damned price for, as you say, very limited specs.
It's too pricey, even for the opportunity to experiment with a new technology.

Light field is presently limited by sensor technology. All those fields demand their own share of the sensor, so we get something good for online sharing. And that seems to be their marketing plan.

A neat idea, but not for me.
Groups Beta