Talking tech since 2003

A few months ago, I watched a video interview with Ren Ng, the founder of Lytro, a new kind of camera company.  When the video interview was over I had to pick my jaw up from the floor because what I had just saw was truly awesome and potentially very disruptive to the entire digital camera industry.  What’s so special about the Lytro Light Field Camera?  It uses “light field” technology which allows the camera to capture the entire light field which means it takes in all the light traveling in every direction in every point in space.  This is very different from conventional camera’s that capture a single plane of light and allows for a very cool feature that only the Lytro can provide — the ability to focus and/or re-focus on anything in your photo even after it has been taken.

The Lytro camera also sports an interesting new camera design, its small rectangular design will probably be foreign to many but it’s super lightweight, weighing in at just more than 7.5 oz.  It also features instant turn-on so you can quickly snap photos.  The small form factor will definitely be useful for portability purposes as well and it comes in two sizes: 8GB (colors: graphite and electric blue) and 16GB (colors: red) priced at $399 and $499 respectively.  There are some current limitations, the software that allows you to modify the images after the fact is currently only Mac compatible but they are working on a Windows version.

Does that Lytro camera face any challenges?  It sure does.  In order for the Lytro to truly disrupt the camera industry it will need to continue to differentiate itself and have the ability to compete with the iPhone 4S (as well as Nikon and Canon) in the point and shoot space.  Competing with the iPhone 4S may be tough because of its new and improved camera which is very good and the easy tap to focus technology in iOS works very well.  Plus, now that every smartphone has a fairly decent camera, Lytro needs to convince people to carry another device around with them — their camera.

It’s definitely an uphill battle, but I think this is a unique piece of technology and I think a lot of amateur photographers and even some professionals will find awesome uses for the Lytro.

You can play around with the Lytro Camera’s main feature on the company’s gallery page, where you can focus and re-focus on (living) pictures.  I definitely recommend checking that out.

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