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Lytro Illum Is the Next Generation of Light Field Photography

by Brandon Russell | April 22, 2014April 22, 2014 10:00 am PDT

Two years ago, the Lytro Effect slowly began to take hold, completely shaking up the way we saw traditional photography. You can focus after you take a picture? It didn’t seem real. Yet it’s becoming a staple in the mobile market, while the actual innovator is being left behind, forgotten. That is, until today.

Lytro on Tuesday introduced a new professional-grade camera and software platform, called Illum, thrusting the company right back into the limelight. This isn’t just a evolutionary upgrade to the strange mini telescope we saw in 2012. Lytro’s new toy is a completely re-imagined piece of hardware that looks like some of today’s most popular mirrorless cameras. But it can do so, so much more thanks to the Illum’s 40-megaray light field sensor, 8x optical zoom range and high-speed shutter.

Of course, the Illum’s bread and butter is what you can do once a photo is taken. Lytro has built an all new software platform to go along with what the company described as “tablet-class computer power,” so users will get a much more advanced experience compared to the first Lytro camera. The Illum’s megaray sensor works to collect visual information that allows users to make adjustments in post. You’re probably familiar with this experience already, but that essentially gives users the ability to shoot a photo now, and focus on their subject later.

The Illum sports a fancy new lens, too—there are 13 different pieces of glass—that has incredible macro capabilities (0mm – infinity; f/2.0; 30 – 250mm), and there’s also a focus and zoom ring for you old school purists. Other features include a 4-inch LCD touchscreen, removable Li-Ion battery, micro USB 3 and a free desktop app for importing and processing photos from the device. This is clearly a tool from the future, and trounces what the company put out just a few years ago.

One of the biggest criticisms of the first Lytro camera was that it produced a paltry resolution when converted into a JPEG image—just 1.2-megapixels. The Illum, on the other hand, is capable of 4-megapixel peak output, so it’ll be fascinating to see what the quality is like once an image is converted. That should be plenty for zooming, cropping and printing, but we’ll reserve judgment until we see a full resolution photo produced by the Illum.

For all of this new technology, Lytro’s new camera certainly isn’t cheap. Whereas the first Lytro had a starting price of $399, the new Illum will start at $1,499 (owners of the first Lytro camera can get a 20-percent loyalty discount) and ships sometime in July. You can reserve your very own right now with a $250 deposit.

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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...


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