Lytro Finally Introduces a Camera That Creative Professionals Will Want

The Lytro field camera was cute, but completely impractical for anyone who really wanted to take professional imagery. It was a weird rectangle that just never felt like anything more than a toy. Today Lytro intends to change that with the release of their professionally-focused Light Field Camera Illum. It comes with a 30mm-250mm lens equivalent with a constant f/2.0 aperture and will ship starting July 2014 for $1,599.

The Illum and accompanying software is "designed to redefine the way we portray the world around us. Built to harness the full power of the light field, the professional-grade LYTRO ILLUM will give photographers a new medium capable of capturing visual experiences in their purest form - not as a static cross-section of reality but an authentic, interactive window into their world."

To enable such rich, layered compositions, LYTRO ILLUM delivers unparalleled optical versatility by merging custom-built hardware with a powerful software platform. The camera offers a 40-megaray light field sensor, 8x optical zoom range, constant f/2.0 aperture and a high-speed shutter capable of freezing motion under a wide variety of conditions. After image capture, the innovative software platform empowers photographers to adjust aspects of images that were previously fixed, such as focus, tilt, perspective shift and depth of field, which allows the photographer to create images that will resonate for the viewer not just in one dimension, but in every dimension.

As part of the launch, Lytro is offering a variety of exclusive opportunities to those who pre-order the camera before July 15. In addition to receiving a specially-engraved LYTRO ILLUM for a special introductory price of $1,499 and an extended two-year warranty, they'll be eligible to join an inner circle of Lytro users with insider access to product development insight and support. Even after the product ships, this nucleus of early adopters will continue to receive ground-floor insight and training from the Lytro team, with opportunities to contribute to exclusive developmental projects.

As part of their status as early adopters, individuals who pre-order will have the opportunity to submit their own photo series to earn a spot in the Ultimate Lytro Photo Experience ‹ a once-in-a-lifetime trip to shoot alongside a prominent photographer on an all-expense paid photo shoot. The Lytro team and this pro photographer partner will be on hand to provide high-caliber, hands-on training and practice for getting the most out of LYTRO ILLUM. As the larger photography community gets acquainted with this new style of digital art, these early adopters will have an inside edge on techniques for producing cutting-edge Light Field Photography.

Camera Features:

  • 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
  • Extreme close-focus macro capability
  • Combination of tactile-controls and smartphone-class, articulating touchscreen
  • Dimensions: 86mm x 145mm x 166mm; 940 grams
  • Hot shoe supports all leading flashes

Software Platform

  • Virtual camera controls in post-processing, including aperture focus and perspective adjustments and physically accurate tilt control
  • Instantly displays 3D photos on 3D-capable devices
  • Integrated sharing to leading social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+
  • Library of drag-and-drop cinematic animations, including pan, zoom, focus and perspective shift
  • Interactive depth assist
  • Workflow is compatible with existing photo-editing suites like Adobe's Photoshop and Lightroom software and Apple's Aperture software

lytro illum press image angled

lytro illum press image back

lytro illum press image direct front

lytro illum press image front

lytro illum press image side

lytro illum press image top

lytro illum press images other side

In addition to enabling post-capture image adjustments, LYTRO ILLUM's proprietary software platform enables users to view images in 3D, build custom animations, export images into common formats like JPEG and share to the Web or mobile devices. LYTRO ILLUM's workflow is also compatible with existing photo-editing suites like Adobe's Photoshop and Lightroom software and Apple's Aperture software, allowing creative pioneers to use the tools they already use.

I love this. The tech finally seems more approachable, and it's a camera that feels like a camera. Who else is excited about this? For more info, head on over to Lytro.com.

UPDATE: Imagine translating the images into video. This video provided to us by Lytro shows how you can create living pictures, similar to how After Effects can be used to bring movement to photos:

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46 Comments
wafflehaus's picture

I wonder if Capture One will start supporting this.

Luke Lee's picture

sensor size? can I print these photos? will the image viewer be supported for all OS and browsers? it's definitely not jpg or raw, so how do we post-process them?
I can understand somehow they managed to get the focus later, ok, but focal length on the lens seem to be based on 35mm film format, so how big is the actual sensor? how do we calculate how much of the subject is in the focus? went through their website, but couldn't find any specifications of either their old cameras or this new one.

Leif Sikorski's picture

Crop Faktor: 3.19
2D Export Resolution: 4MP peak output
(from their website: https://support.lytro.com/hc/en-us/articles/201825730-What-are-the-specs...)

Meeh, can't get excited about it and usually we've the final image in our head so do we really want that the viewer can player with the dof? To me it's still feels just a gimmick.

Imperious Images's picture

I agree. It seems odd that the photographer would be letting the viewer decide the focal point. That's how we as the photographers direct the eye to where we want, not leave it open for interpretation.

PrinsWes's picture

Might not add much now, but imagine that we in a few years might have screens instead of print showcasing these 'moving' photo's that allow you to play with focus as an extra dimension.

Steven Santamour's picture

I would look at is as a new art. Now the photographer must look at the composure even closer now. Take interesting photos that different people will focus at different sections and create different stories in the same image. I see it as a new Art form in the making and really excited about it.

With technology, why should an image remain the same forever? If you take a dynamic photo in which you could choose four different focal points, and refresh the image, why wouldn't you do it?

This could be something down the road that you could sell these images in an interactive display that people will hang up on their walls.

Jacob's picture

I agree with Steven…
It's not so much about letting the viewer choose whatever he or she wants (although I can see a certain value of that from a marketing standpoint due to novelty)… It's about OPTIONS and telling different STORIES…

So that's cool. That is not to say that I already can foresee the hype that's coming out of this thing and the amount of crap we will get out of it (think HDR! Yikes!)… so THAT is in deed something I'm NOT looking forward to.

But well always good if you can be the first on such a bandwagon in a tasteful manner. :)

Steve Lee's picture

If you compose for the surroundings and not the subject the photo will have layers and depth even if you shoot film - a good photo will have 3-5 layers giving the viewer an interesting image to explore.

Alan Aurmont's picture

Why would you print a light field photo?

The whole point of taking a light field photo is to be able to refocus live.

There are no printers that are capable of printing light fields.

whitehotphoenix's picture

Wow that's some narrow thinking if I've ever heard it.

Nick West's picture

I think the 'whole point' is having the ability to re-focus those shots which we just missed focus with, especially when it comes to sports/wildlife. I don't think Luke was suggesting that you need to print each field (correct me if I'm wrong @lukeleethephotographer:disqus), merely asking if it was possible to refocus and then export that 2D image in a printable format.

Austin Rogers's picture

I know it's dorky as heck, but I'd love to be able to print a cereal-box hologram with one of these. It would amuse me for hours on end.

Capion's picture

The bigger question here.. is will they support time-lapse in their embedded viewer app. Also... when are they going to implement video in their cameras for pulling focus in post :)

Jaron Schneider's picture

I just uploaded a video they sent me... and if that was easy to export... I'm so sold.

Capion's picture

Jaron, can you please clarify? Did they send you a live action motion video (1080p?) utilizing this camera or did they send you a timelapse video? Either way I am beyond excited.

Jaron Schneider's picture

I'm still trying to figure out HOW they exported the video (series of emails with them), but the file did come to me in 720p. I want to export EXACTLY what they did from their software into a .mov. But if that's possible even at only 720p, I am very VERY excited.

steven tippett's picture

all i want to know is how many fps can it handle? if its over 4-5 this will change sports photography forever, you wont have to even look threw the lens just press the button and then focus later... it will be amazing...

Capion's picture

Very good question! You are right this camera would reign king in sports photography given a high burst rate!

Fred Smith's picture

It could someday reign king in sports, portrait or newspaper photography. The problem is the quality of the photos (for now), but so long as they get a product out there the financial backers will be happy. Expect this company to be bought out relatively soon. The technology should only get better.

Ørjan Laxaa's picture

Samples look soft and suffer from some bad compression. I this the only way of viewing content from the Lytro?

Alan Aurmont's picture

Absolutely love the looks! Looks like one of those fancy medium-format cameras or something that Apple would design. But man is the focus soft! Hate it!

Nick West's picture

Alan I think you have confused focus with the heavy compression demonstrated in these examples. Look at the dirt on the moto-x shot, looks sharp to me, and I would imagine it is tack sharp at full res.

Andrew Crocker's picture

The sample images are horrible. Not a great way to advertise. Plus, how easy is it to use without a viewfinder on a beach at high noon with sun glare bouncing off the sand? Still seems to gimmicky for my taste.

Andy Kerr's picture

According to https://support.lytro.com/hc/en-us/articles/201825730-What-are-the-specs... the "2D export resolution" has a "4MP peak output."

Guess I'll keep waiting a bit longer.

Kris Rae Orlowski's picture

Could be interesting in landscape, architecture, or real-estate photography

Alan Aurmont's picture

Should've called it Illllllllllum.

Martin's picture

Love it!
Lytro , please make it take 24 photos per second :)

Marc Schwarz's picture

The image sample not really convinced me. The hood looks sharp but when focusing on the face it doesn't really look that sharp!

Gary Blake's picture

That's my concern. I would want incredible precise focus controls in post.

Billy Mangino's picture

My comment would be that I've seen other examples which work beautifully. The issue with the car image is that the face may not be in focus due to the glass being the farthest solid focal point in the image since the man is behind the glass. We've all had the issue of trying to use AF to focus on a subject beyond glass when our AF instead finds the drop of water or speck of dust on the glass more interesting. I think this concept is great for creative marketing.

Hannah's picture

There are more examples if you click the arrow keys but I understand that having the car as the first example was not very smart on fstoppers part.

Jesse Scroggins's picture

Yes, it looks as if it still has limitations on how much depth of field control it can fully achieve. Especially when shooting something up close or macro. Still impressive if you ask me.

Jimmy Schaefer's picture

Its a cool technology capturing a large range of light. but the company should not MAKE cameras, they should have sold off the technology to a big company like Canon Nikon, etc.. (CASH OUT) I just don't find a use of this camera for the major price point of 1500 bucks to use their proprietary software to view images on. Also I messaged the company when they announced the technology years ago, and told them you can do the same thing with image stacking... Their responds back to me was that will never take off... Now Google is competing with Lytro using image stacking with free software that will become avalible on your everyday phone cam...

Matt Ethan's picture

Do you know, when I first saw the original, I actually wondered if the light-field thing was a con, and they were essentially using the software for image stacking. I'm sure they're genuine, but its interesting we had the same sort of thought!

Daniel Gangur's picture

only thing is canon or nikon would would hold it back they are not exactly inovative, maybe fuji should take it over.

Le sashimi's picture

what about ISO ?

emil richter's picture

obviously lytro has its future in video, but recording 20mpx video is a thing of the future.

Nick West's picture

Is it possible to export individual fields? That would be pretty interesting for easy cut-outs/composites.

Richy's picture

It makes you wonder about the future of photography with technology like this. Compare this to the original and were only a few years down the road, what will it be like in another few years? Its not ready to replace any of my kit yet but its one to keep an eye on

Charles Coleman's picture

Going to make doing the parallax effect much easier haha

Compulsorry's picture

With a 3.19 crop factor, that aperture is 6.38 for, roughly, a 10-80mm lens.

Timothy Jace's picture

The shape looks cool. Almost Mac like except for the colors.

Spy Black's picture

Who actually believes that's a functional ergonomic design?

Jesse Scroggins's picture

If you click and hold down the mouse button while dragging, then everything comes into focus at once, and it moves around like a 3d effect. Neat.

Shaun Ryan's picture

Would have bought this camera no quesiton's asked if its output was at least the resolution of 4096 pixels × 2160, 8.8 megapixels. That way I could crop my shots for widescreen video. I am personally looking at this camera as a video tool for a film I want to create. But as is with low res and 4:3 pics...not exactly winning me over.

Mark Alameel's picture

I still think all the "focus" points look blurry... I really want this technology to take off but it just doesn't seem there, yet. Imagine being able to pull focus just an inch or two to get the perfect capture when shooting f1.2 on a face...