The Lytro camera debuted last year to much Internet fanfare. People marvelled at its core technology and imagined all sorts of uses for the camera, even as its present incarnation lacked professional features. In case you been living under a rock (or chained to your editing bay), here’s the lowdown: the Lytro camera takes “living pictures”, allowing the user to manipulate focus after snapping the photo. In sample Lytro images provided by its maker, you can literally click on the picture and instantaneously see the focus shift to different parts of the composition.
(click once on the image below to shift focus. Double-click to zoom)
While the technology has been universally lauded, the camera’s feature set leaves a something to be desired. The camera sports an unusual, ergonomically-challenged form factor. The 1.5” LCD display is too small to be practical. It only takes square pictures. The resulting image quality is lower than what we’ve come to expect from most smartphones. And it doesn’t shoot video (yet).
Regardless of the perceived deficiencies, the Lytro will be available online through BestBuy, Amazon, and Target for $399 for the 8gb and $499 for the 16gb models. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the technology and I can’t wait to see what future versions of the camera have in store. However, to continue Lytro development, the camera will have to start selling some units.
Their gambit could pay off. More retail portals means more opportunities to engage the public, expand awareness, and hopefully, make some sales. But is it too much of a niche product, at too high of a price point, to compete in the marketplace? It should be a very interesting Holiday season...