Laura Bute Photography

A shift in focus

It’s happened to all of us: we grab an AWESOME shot, but upon further examination realize that a key element of said AWESOME photo is soft. Grrrr.

A company out of Silicon Valley is coming out with a new product later this year that takes focus out of the imaging equation. Yes, you read that correctly – no more out of focus images. Lytro’s camera let’s you select your focus point after the image is taken. The camera does this by capturing more light, and light from different angles, than your regular camera with a sensor called the microlens array. It basically fits a bunch of lenses into a neat and tiny package – a small point-and-shoot package to be exact. You can then go in after the fact to select your focus point in what Lytro calls a “living image.”

This new toy is garnering a lot of buzz from techno geeks and photographers alike, but a $50 million investment in the company begs the question: will it take off? In a nutshell, I say yes. Along with the obvious biggie of no out of focus shots, the camera brings some advantages to the table. To start, the time taken to focus an image is completely cut out of the process. This means no more waiting with a strained smile while the person taking the photo waits for the camera to do its thing. This combined with a lack of shutter lag makes the photo-taking experience particularly snappy.

Lytro is also working on the technology so the camera will be able to take images that are completely in focus (think Ansel Adams’ landscapes). But what about quality? Lytro has not yet made an official statement as to resolution, however, one of the prototype testers noted that there was no discrepancy between the resolution of the Lytro camera and his regular point-and-shoots. In addition to the technology, Lytro is in the process of making the images available to the usual suspects, namely Facebook and the iPad. To top it all off, Lytro images can be viewed in 3D, with the dorky glasses of course.

Another big looming question pertains to cost. Lytro has stated that the cameras will be available for the consumer market, meaning probably the lower end of hundreds of dollars. The release is expected late this year. Clearly the announcement of this new technology inspires more questions than it answers. Will I still be able to edit them in Photoshop? Will they even be jpgs? What about zoom? The FAQ page on Lytro’s blog answers some questions. Interested parties can keep tabs by reading the blog or signing up for the email list.

The video below explains a little more. For a fully interactive experience, check out their picture gallery.

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About Me

About me

After a photojournalism degree and a short stint as a lead photographer/photo editor at a news web site, I decided it was time to branch out on my own. I specialize in editorial food and travel photography but dabble in a little bit of everything.