Lytro's Living Pictures: A Thing of the Past

Lytro's Living Pictures: A Thing of the Past

If you don't remember Lytro cameras and have no idea what their “living pictures” are, don't sweat it. As cool as the idea was, the technology itself was either not ready or was so poorly received that the hardware was doomed to fail. The concept, being able to refocus an image after it's been taken, is a great idea. Who wouldn't want to be able to literally fix the focus itself in post-production? Alas, we're not quite there yet. 

As reported by Sean O'Kane, via his article on The Verge, Lytro has pulled support for their online images by shutting down pictures.lytro.com. The site itself indicates that Lytro has discontinued the website and lists features that will no longer be accessible effective November 30th, 2017. It kind of looks like the future of Lytro images online is dead and buried. The official page goes on to say that while local desktop features are still accessible, “The only parts of Lytro Desktop that will no longer function will be anything specific to online sharing.”

How many people remember seeing Lytro cameras in stores? If you own one, shot with one, or saw them in store leave a comment down below with your impressions. I remember the only time that I saw a Lytro model in a camera store, the employees were unable to explain how it worked (I had no idea either) and generally approached the technology with skepticism. Sounds to me like the technology concept was great but it just wasn't ready to succeed. 

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8 Comments

Is this the same as focus stacking?

If you've seen, they have been working on products for the professional digital effects world when I guess this wasn't as popular as it could have been

Spy Black's picture

Yeah, they've literally "gone Hollywood". Apparently the technology has evolved as a high-ticket item for FX production.

That makes sense. Everytime I watch a series there is atleast 5-6 seperate occasion where the focus is off. If they can "fix it in post" that surely means big bucks!

That is what I was going to say. Lytro is very much alive. They're just developing cinema technology now, not for still pictures.

Kenneth O. Soto's picture

I bought one when they were heavily discounted last year for $350.

I honestly wanted to like this camera, but having a 1" sensor, poor ISO performance, clunky software, and low megapixel jpegs made it the worst camera I've ever owned.

I did enjoy being able to change focus after I had shot an image. I also liked the design of the camera and the fact that the lens was a constant f/2 with more than decent zoom range.

If the sensor was bigger, at least a M43-sized sensor with better software, and RAW capable, then it would've been a nice camera to own, but as it stands I would not waste my money buying this camera.

The bottom line: It was a great idea that was not executed correctly.

The Illum is a fun camera, once you get past the soft lens, underpowered proc and slow reaction speed. Lytro marketed and priced the Illum as a pro camera but didn't give it pro-level durability, speed and resolution. I think light field technology has a lot of advantages and will return with a sharper lens, better ergonomics and responsiveness. But, without the ability to embed living images on the web, it will be difficult for light field technology to be refined for photo.

The end of the megapixel wars killed Lytro ( -I mean, their marketing was the worst too, but...). Since their technology worked like a Foveon sensor you only got 1/3 of the pixel count you paid for which is acceptable if that MP count were at least 16.

The technology isn't even dead though, it's going towards scientific imaging and cinema, then it will come back to still someday.