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When the original Lytro camera was first announced back in 2011, many predicted it would present a major shakeup to the camera industry as a whole. It didn’t, but you wouldn’t be blamed for making that mistake, since the $400 to $500 device utilized light field technology to give users unprecedented focus options after taking their photos. The rise of smartphone camera popularity and power has been far more disruptive, and the arrival of the HTC One M8—which offers users similar-seeming focus adjustment options—would seem to show that the original Lytro just isn’t necessary, even if it’s still a far better camera than any you find crammed into your phone.

lytro-illum-display
The four-inch, touch-enabled display will give Illum photographers unprecedented control over their photos.

But today, Lytro has just announced the newest addition to its product line—the Lytro Illum, a DSLR-shaped light field camera with a premium price of $1,600. But that price gives users the most powerful photo-taking experience yet. Lytro’s initial offering had a fixed lens, but the Illum has a 30mm to 250mm zoom with a f/2.0 aperture, not to mention a four-inch, touch-controlled display to let you see what you just shot. For good measure, it’s also got an SD card slot and built-in WiFi, the latter of which was something of a secret feature of the company’s original offering.

The images you capture with the Illum can also be hugely manipulated, allowing you to adjust focus and point of view. Because it’s capturing the entire light field, the camera takes photos that seem to be fully three dimensional. As amazing as it is, this is the same kind of photo-taking power that the Lytro introduced three years ago, but packed with even more options, not to mention a 40 Megaray light sensor. As a post on TechCrunch points out, the original Lytro—which, you must remember, is still mind-blowingly impressive—had an 11 Megaray sensor.

For a sample of the kind of incredible images you can capture, and the 3D-editing and focusing options you’ll have, take a look at this sample provided by Lytro:

In short, despite its enormous price, this is a must-have camera for photo aficionados. If you pre-order the Illum, you can get it for a marginally discounted price of $1,500. You’ll also get another 20 percent “loyalty discount” if you owned the first Lytro camera. If you wait until after it launches in July, the price will go back up to $1,600.

And for that much money, it seems there’s little that this camera can’t do…except answer this question: can Lytro get enough customers to overcome the sticker shock to make the Illum the new standard in digital photography?

lytro-illum-side

[Lytro Illum]


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