The Lytro Illum Lets You Refocus Images After You Capture Them

Photography has been around for a long time, but there hasn’t been a lot of progress over the past few years. Sure, the sensors in our cameras and DSLRs are getting better and better, and we’re getting cool technologies like WiFi connectivity, but the medium itself hasn’t changed much. We’re still capturing flat 2D images, with the only improvements being the size and detail of these images. Until now. Say hello to the Lytro Illum.

Lytro Illum

The Lytro Illum is a game-changing light-field camera, the follow-up to their first Light Field Camera. The Lytro Illum retains the previous model’s party piece, the ability to refocus your photographs after you take them, but improves on the previous model in almost every way possible.

What Is A light-Field Camera?

Light-field cameras use an array of multiple microlenses, usually smaller than 1mm in diameter, to capture four-dimensional light field data. Basically, what this means is that a light-field camera not only captures the color and intensity of light, but also captures the direction of light.

This isn’t entirely new technology. It was proposed by Franco-Luxembourgish inventor Gabriel Lippmann back in 1908.

But the technology to process these images in interesting ways hadn’t been available until Lytro founder Ren Ng and his Stanford University computer team showed that cameras with powerful graphics processing capabilities – both hardware and software – could allow users to refocus and shift the perspective of images captured using light-field technology.

That’s why Lytro Illum comes in.

A New Way To Snap Photos

The Lytro Illum is a complete refinement of the previous Lytro Light Field Camera that’s targeted towards professionals and advanced amateurs, especially those working within the fields of creative photography.

The Lytro Illum has its own custom 40 Megaray sensor, which captures four times as much information as the sensor in the older Light Field Camera. The images this sensor captures are then processed by the Illum’s software with "tablet-class processing power". This combination of sensor and software is what allows you to refocus images after capturing them.

Lytro Illum Sensor

What does this all mean, though? Well, check out these examples to see what the Lytro Illum, and light-field camera technology, can do:

Cool, huh? Let’s check out the device that can do this from the palm of your hands.

The Hardware

The Illum’s user interface is simple and uncluttered, with only a shutter and a special Lytro Button, similar to a depth of field preview button, on the top of the body.

There’s also the usual exposure lock and autofocus buttons. Everything else is controlled through a 4" touchscreen that’s also angled slightly upward, to facilitate photo-taking without having to raise the Illum to eye level.

Lytro Illum Touchscreen

As far as the lens is concerned, the Lytro Illum boasts an impressive 35-250mm equivalent zoom lens with a constant f/2.0 apeture and macro capability. The lens is light, too, weighing in at only half a pound.

Lytro Illum Lens

Here’s a cut-out top down view of Lytro’s previous Light Field Camera, showing you the microlens array:

Lytro Light Field Camera

The Illum also has the common connectivity ports such as a hot shoe for external flash units, a remote shutter port, a tripod mount and an SD card slot.

Lytro also has a suite of desktop tools that will not only let you refocus and shift the perspective of images, but also transform your images into dynamic animations for desktop, mobile and even in 3D.

Lytro Desktop Tools

The Lytro Illum is currently available for pre-order at a special introductory price of $1,499, with a $250 deposit required to reserve a camera. Pre-orders are currently limited to the USA, Canada, EU countries, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.