With the illum, the fledgling company Lytro wants to revolutionize photography. Whether it succeeds? The test shows it.

There it is right in front of me, a great opportunity. So camera out, press on the shutter button – and the picture is in the box. But what if you discovered something in the blurry background of photos? Something that should be much more in focus? Actually, the focus can be subsequently hardly sensible move with conventional image editing programs. But with the light box technology of the Lytro illum, this shall be possible in the future.

What has pleased Katrin as I advised you the illum. “When is she coming? Can I take it over the weekend?” The CURVED photographer could already throw first glimpse of the light field camera from Lytro a few months ago – and now she wanted to get pictures so. So she ripped the package almost out of the hands of me. When you open the packaging then equal the first disappointment. The many black boxes where the accessories of the camera was packed, had somehow cheap – and that she found strange. “Who’s the camera again? “But not for professionals, or?”

But exactly this target group wishes to address Lytro with the illum. It’s not just the housing form and the possibilities – already the price of 1,600 euros would be very ambitious for the hobby photographer. However, the promises of the manufacturer, to make images come alive, could inspire even layman. The hardware also convinced – at the first glance.

No Lightweight

The illum lies with their just once so under 1000 grams in the hand, the lens is firmly installed. And she actually looks like a reflex camera – what is not necessarily self-evident at Lytro. Because of the company’s first light field camera looked like a crisis too big lipstick with a tiny display yet at one end.

It was an attempt, it should demonstrate the technique. With success: In particular mobile phone manufacturer tried to integrate this system with the subsequently adjustable depth – with more or less success in their devices. While HTC builds two lenses in his one M8, to achieve this effect, others rely on a software solution. But no company has so consistently installed the technology in a camera like Lytro.

The illum has a just 1.2 inches large chip with four megapixels. Not just exhilarating, the most compact cameras, even smartphones, have often better values. But for Lytro, another measure is much more important: Megaray means the new currency that pays on the light box concept.

The illum measures the color, direction, and brightness of light in the entire area with 40 Megaray. As a result, the position of each object can be determined. One must imagine it a little like a 3D scan of the room. Stores all information such as distance of objects to each other and to the camera. But this also ensures that much disk space usage: A recording can be strap are times 150 megabytes in size.

Standard Flash units can be pushed onto the hotshoe, the most striking but is big touch screen on the back. Towards a fold up on itself, this can be making the camera from a low position can be used well. Unfortunately, the display can be but not so close to that I could use the camera in concerts over my head. Android is used as the basis for the operating system, which is powered by a Snapdragon 800 – however, it is hardly even to recognize in the operation.

Thanks to the handle, the relatively heavy camera can hold, so she can stabilize other hand at the same time and use the zoom or focus ring still good with one hand.

We have made a few test shots with the illum and then from the photos with different focus deducted two images.

First Get Used To

So far, pretty normal. It is complicated only when taking pictures. Because a trigger is no longer suffice, before the room as already described must be scanned. It is difficult not only for amateurs like me, also professionals such as Mrs Katrin must become accustomed to once. But that doesn’t bother them: “I have with any new camera.”

The ability to assess the effect of adjustable depth of focus directly on the display is quite good. However, it takes due to the large amount of data until the image is loaded from the store. And just the memory card eject, put in the computer and does not work to improve, then with his image editing. Special software must be installed.

No wonder, after all it’s “living pictures” – and that just need an Extrawurst. With the software “Lytro Desktop”, then not only the point of focus can move, the images can also be played. Yes, in fact this term fits: If the focus automatically moves over the image, it looks like a shot.

A very pretty effect – which brings something to me but only on the computer. Will I send the image, should I upload it only on the Lytro server and can then forward the link to friends – which then can look at the picture on just those servers. Or you have installed the Viewer software for light box images, then I could give even a USB stick with images – for emailing the files are just too big.

A demo that me were I in summer with us which was allowed to look at drafting me fantastic images by professional photographers shows that should demonstrate the full potential of the Lytro. Sports shooting, fashion shootings, family celebrations in great quality and razor sharp, in which you almost could slide in.

However these recordings were not loose out of hand. They were perfectly lit, preparations for it were certainly immense. Because, as we have worked with us in the Studio with artificial light or on the door with light with the camera, we were not always satisfied with the result. The images were not really sharp – even after subsequent manual re focusing. Even some details appeared pixelated and frayed.

Also the camera movements were convinced not really: in many cases, the animation was rough and dark areas worked in the movement as before after the deadline the TV noise. Extrapolating a 2D-Foto download, also from the file the image quality ultimately is not really suitable – at least not in large format for the picture frame on the couch for the expression.

The illum is no substitute for a conventional camera, but rather an Internet camera, funny pictures for Web pages or multimedia slideshows on iPad or computer makes. For this purpose, the quality ranges always – even if not every photo is really sharp in all areas. But the effect is cool. However, it is also cumbersome to insert the photos. For your own website, do I need a special plug ins, I want to post the image on Facebook, I have to go through the Lytro server.

Also it was fun me, joining the illum via Wi-Fi with my iPhone, looking at the light box photographs directly on the retina display and change the sharpness by finger. I could upload the photos this way directly from the camera on the Lytro server. It’s just been disconnected frequently. Also I could type in any comments via iPhone to the pictures – the keyboard disappeared on every attempt. And for whatever reason, the illum only with an iPhone can communicate, probably remains a mystery – I would have liked also an Android app.

Nice Try, More Expensive Fun

Well Lytro, the revolution is still nothing. The whole concept is still like a beta test and not really mature. The technology itself can inspire me though – but I understand not the purpose of the application, if I can share the pictures, for example, only very awkward with my friends or family members.

Also I would have liked a significantly better image quality at the price which looks great not only on Smartphone and computer displays. Who must make money worry and want to try getting each new gadget immediately, should take the 1,600 euro and play around with the illum. All other should wait a little until they lay to a light field camera, because even this technology is in its infancy.

For professionals, it is not recommended to not set, at least as the sole system on the Lytro. It would rather be a supplement to develop a new Visual language. But for the perfect organisation of the shots it takes much time, photographers must think this almost cinematically and stage the images accordingly. But then a great apparatus could be possibly to produce interactive photos for touch devices. It would be already exciting, if you could immerse quasi as a reader in the article images.

But probably, so does it anyway, wants to make himself especially for a takeover or sale of patents chic Lytro – and therefore had to develop a finished product. Because it could be exciting, if traditional camera manufacturers integrate the light field technology in their own systems, for example in the lenses. So, the effect on push of a button could switch to, but also deactivate if you would like to take “normal” pictures.

But I stick to it, what I the first hands-on thought: the light box technology will change the way of photographing. At some point. Only just still not immediately with the illum.

Gallery

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