New camera focuses on high-end market

40 MEGARAYS: The Lytro Illum records 3D data in light rays, allowing the photographer to change the focus and perspective.


    Apr 25, 2014

    New camera focuses on high-end market


    LYTRO dazzled tech geeks when it introduced a pocket-sized gizmo that could take "living" pictures - images that could be refocused after the shutter clicked.

    On Tuesday, the Silicon Valley company unveiled a bigger, more expensive camera designed to make a "do-over" a reality instead of a photographer's dream.

    The Lytro Illum, priced at US$1,599 (S$2,000), is marketed as a tool for commercial photographers and advanced amateurs who want to differentiate their work in an age of Instagram and "commodotised imaging", Lytro founder Ren Ng said.

    The original camera (US$399) was a niche product that sought to prove the viability of light-field photography. Lytro has declined to provide sales figures for that model.

    Mr Ng said it made the most sense for his company to target the US$20 billion high-end camera market due to the growing ubiquity of smartphones. His cameras share many components, such as sensors, with high-powered digital single-lens reflex cameras, known as DSLRs.

    Like its predecessor featuring the ability to "focus after you shoot", the Illum captures the 3D data in light rays. The technology lets the user adjust the plane of focus or slightly tilt or shift perspective after the shot.

    Unlike the original Lytro camera, however, the Illum resembles a traditional DSLR, featuring a 30- to 250-mm equivalent F/2 lens, a 1-inch sensor and a sleek black body with a shutter button, SD memory cards and a 4-inch touchscreen display. Its sensor captures 40 "megarays", but the images have the equivalent resolution of roughly 4 megapixels.

    Mr Ng, who founded the company in 2006, is promoting light-field pictures as "photography 3.0" to succeed film and digital images.

    "It's targeted at creative pioneers, the people who embraced colour technology when it came out, when many people felt photography was about black and white," he said in an interview, adding that he believes "this transition from digital to light-field" technology will transform photography.