The Focus Later Camera Shows Up On A Fashion Shoot

Remember the Lytro Camera that made it's viral rounds a few weeks ago? The camera that lets you focus after you take the photo has finally showed its head. Photographer Eric Chen has apparently been given a prototype of the miracle camera to test and put through the ringer. Shockingly enough, Eric did not use the camera at all for macro or multi-layered compositions that would best suit the Lytro. Instead he went into the streets of New York to shot fashion shots of super model Coco Rocha with little more than a reflector for lighting. I'll have to admit I wasn't too impressed with the image quality from this camera even with Eric giving his best efforts. What do you guys think; is this "focus after you take a photo" technology from Lytro ever going to live up to its promise? Either way, be sure to check out Eric's portfolio and gaze at the final Lytro images with variable focus points below.

The Final Images (click on different spots to play with focus)

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actually Coco Rocha is the model, the photographjer is Eric Cheng

Coco Rocha is the name of the model. The photographer for this shoot was Eric Chen. 

I was about to be the 3rd person to post the same thing, I don't think you would ever get good bokeh this way.

Coco Rocha is a world famous model, not a photographer. 

Patrick Hall's picture

Got it straightened out, thanks for all the comments!  I was wondering why her portfolio was so amazing!

Patrick Hall's picture

I really don't think this camera makes any sense for traditional photography.  After the gimmick wears off, people will not use this as a tool for portraits or "missing the focus".  BUT with that being said, I do think this technology will serve a purpose for maybe forensics, astrophotography, or educational purposes.  For right now it is pretty cool to play with the images but in a year or two this will be old hat.  

I definitely can see how photographers could use this to increase creative possibilities. With video you often see focus get shifted from one point in a frame to another. This would allow a still photographer to think in the same terms. From all of the things that have shown up on this site you know what creative people will find a way to use anything. On the other hand I agree that "missing the focus" might not be it's primary use after a while.

Shifting focus in video (i.e. "rack focus") is used intentionally as an effect. The same cannot be said for photography though as obviously a photo is still.

Only way I see this useful if for someone shooting at an extremely shallow depth of field (~f/1.2) to perfectly nail the focus (although photographers have been shooting with lenses of such a shallow depth of field for quite some time now without difficulty).

I'm with you on this one Patrick. I don't think this will actually be used for photography. I see it more suitable for other purposes (as you mentioned).

I can definitely see how this would be useful for event photography.  Perhaps for those moments that would have been a great shot, but you had to take a picture without the viewfinder or it was too dark for the AF sensor.  It may very well be a gimmick, but at one point video on DSLRs was too.

This could be a quote about the first digital cameras in 1982. 

Well when you see the still images from the shoot, it doesn't seem like this technology was helpful at all.  I don't think there's any pro who will buy into this system and actually use it for something you can't do more easily with DSLRS or MF.

still in the "neat" category for me. Patrick, GREAT use case would be forensics, as you said. Take a picture of the scene, be able to focus on different areas back at your desks, months after the crime, and see a new detail or missed piece of evidence. As long as the quality supports it, that is. Interesting.

Alexei Rivera's picture

You mean like what they do in CSI? Hehehe

Yea I don't think this would allow for decent bokeh either like a few others said but beyond that I wanna see what the damn thing looks like. They censored it out or had it in some sort of box it seems everytime it was shown

ya they took the time to blur the camera out. kind of annoying IMHO.

Two things stand out to me. First a number of the pictures start with the main subject out of focus. If I was going to share a living picture I would want to select the focus point that is used to initially display it. First impressions are too important to leave to chance. I wouldn't be surprised if part of the reason Patrick wasn't impressed with the quality is because of poor first impressions. Photos need to catch your attention and make you want to engage with it more.

Second I wonder if choosing to share a living picture means your stuck with a straight out of the camera image. If you are it certainly makes sense why they would be targeting the consumer market first.

Patrick Hall's picture

I can only imagine combining this type of image with a touch screen billboard.  Imagine how effective that would be in drawing crowds and making an advertising campaign memorable!

Another use could be in product shots where they use software to "stack" extra images to create even more depth of field.  Of course that depends on how this camera is actually working...shooting at f/50 in macro still might only allow for only so much DOF.  

Mark Alameel's picture

I am very impressed by the technology and I do see this eventually catching on at all levels.  However, right now the images seem to be low resolution and interporlated.  The posted images are just also too small to make any sort of conclusion on quality.

I also just didn't like the photographer's style which doesn't help.  Alos, I do not think take photographs of a model's reflecton can be a good judge on the technology.

As teh tech progresses though, I think this will be very awesome and I want it bad, just not right now.

Joshua K's picture

This technology seems to be coolest when there are more layers to focus on. I could see it being cool if you could make animations where the foreground is in focus and then it focuses to the background.

When there are 3 different subjects to focus on is where its coolest, but I liked the one with the bike tire being in focus at first and then you have to click to see the model.

I still don't believe this camera to be real!,
My reasons being is they never actually show the unit! they just blur everything out, now I know it maybe to protect its design but for technology to be this breakthrough wouldn't they atleast show a concept model? also shouldn't this device capture along the whole focal plane not just key subjects that you would natually select. And a Reserve by email box! Emmmmmm anyone remember the recent hoax we all fell for! you know the transparent camera ;).

I agree. I've read their whole blog and even when they're "technical" there's no details about the camera or how it functions in the very least. At least the invisible camera gave us some fake information that sounded kinda real.

I hate when i focus on a model when what i meant to focus on was the building 300 feet behind them or a hat inside a store window across the street.

Jesse Lash's picture

I lol'd

Sean Shimmel's picture

Thinking divergently (stuff aside from the camera technology):

1. The skillful use of a gold reflector in this video intrigued me far more than official videos intentionally talking about reflectors

2. Serves an irresistible example of the inherent power in an expert model who knows how to pose

when I only see her making those faces and poses....I have often worked with pro-models and it is often the same over the top la-di-da face and pose in which every model looks exaktly the same and absolutly not authentic like coco in this video. But it seems to be common. I have always disliked it, it is so god damn boring. It is straining to slowdown the model in shoot and get her authentic. This has nothing to do with good pictures. There I really prefer a non-pro-model which can pose naturally! where do they got all that unbelievable ugly grimaces from?

Alexei Rivera's picture

The tech is sound but the shots seem to lack sharpness and contrast or saturation. I'd imagine you can't normally do PP on these because you'd probably lose the whole refocus property, but the video (obviously taken from a regular camera) looks much better than any refocused shot from the Lytro. That's a telling tale on its own.

I don't know if exporting these into flat, single focus images and doing PP would make it look better than one taken with a good DSLR with a sharp lens, but I'm sure the tech will also improve over time.

Will it replace traditional photography though? If ever, it won't be anytime soon.

So...what good does it do?

If the tech is indeed real, I wouldn't judge it too much at this point.

Since we don't know the specs of the camera itself or the lens used, it's impossible to know how the photos will look with an RTM camera and even more so if the technology can be put in a pro body and combined with pro lenses.

Alexei Rivera brings out a good point about post-processing images from a Lytro camera. I don't see Lightroom supporting them any time soon, but then again, I might be wrong (I often am). Initial guess is that post-processing would have to be done in an external editor and doing it without flattening the image would be quite processor intensive task.

One interesting thing with this camera would be to make animations out of a single shot like Joshua K suggested above. That would bring a new dimension to a slideshow or you could let the people choose the focus point themselves. I'd think that would be pretty cool with decent resolution and a pad-like device.

In any case and even if one doesn't really see the "point" for this kind of camera, this kind of new technology might open up some other possibilities which no-one can even think of today. In which case it's more than welcome and I wish the best of luck to the Lytro camera.

P.S. The modeling bugged the heck out of me also.

Jens Marklund's picture

I feel like these flash animations doesn't show you anything. It's not an embedded program that handles the file, feels like they just chose 3-4 points/distances you can focus on each photo. And they are way too small to notice how exact it is. Would like to see this with the dof of a 85 1.4 or something. As people has said before - looks like it's just shot at a tiny aperture, recorded some distances and then put a blur filter on it depending on where you click.

If CSI can enlarge a photo 10000 times and see a detailed face of a man in the reflection of a human eye taken with a camera phone, they don't need such a special camera! Only if they would like to see a face of an alien 500 light years away in a glasses' reflection :D

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