Lytro’s new Illum field Camera is the first of its products you’ll want to buy. The original Lytro Field Camera was a nice proof of concept, but the low resolution images were pretty crappy, and the unit itself was one of the least ergonomic camera designs I’ve ever seen.
The Illum still has some ergonomics issues, but promises much better pictures.
Light field cameras capture the angle off the light arriving on its sensor, as well as the usual information about color and brightness. This let you refocus the image after you’ve taken it.
The biggest difference here (literally) is the new one-inch sensor, which is a lot bigger than the old 1/3-inch sensor used in the first version. The lens is still ƒ2 across its zoom range, and that range is now 30–250mm (equivalent), the top shutter speed is 1/4000 sec
The sensor captures 40 megarays, and this converts down to a 5MP final image – easily enough for most uses, and the tilting rear LCD comes in a 800×480 pixel resolution. If measured in the usual way for camera screens, this comes out at 800 x 600 x 3, where the “3” is a kludge used to split each pixel into its three colored dots, a trick used to inflate the numbers. In this case the number is is 1,440,000, or 1.4 million dots – about right for a 4-inch screen.
As for the ergonomics, just look at it. That sloping back might look cool, but it makes the camera hard to use with a viewfinder clipped into the accessory shoe – if one is ever made available.
The tech is certainly amazing, and I can’t wait to see it in a regular camera designed by camera makers. But if you have a hankering to try it, along with $1,600 to spend, you can pre-order for August delivery (with a discount of $100).