updated 06:10 pm EST, Wed February 29, 2012
Lytro reaches end users at last
Lytro kicked off spring early on Wednesday by shipping its promised light field camera. The genuinely unique camera costs $399 in its 8GB blue and gray variants and $499 for the 16GB red edition. Using one currently requires a Mac to process the final shots; Lytro has so far only developed an OS X version of the editing app used to pick the focus point and process final shots.
Every version has an 8X zoom, f2 aperture lens and a back 1.46-inch touchscreen for the interface.
Light field shooting works by considering all the light in the scene, not just the rays directly facing the sensor. The strategy gives an effectively infinite choice of focal points and could end out-of-focus shooting. As a consequence, though, the final shots are lower resolution than on conventional digital cameras, and it's not necessarily possible to narrow the aperture to get multiple subjects in focus.
While limited, Lytro might be expanding its usefulness later. FCC breakdowns have shown inactive wireless features. It may even expand to the iPhone, although the need for smaller and more advanced light field sensors could put smartphones years away.