Photography Reviews

Lytro Illum: First Impressions

The Lytro Illum has been available in the UK for little over a month now and was recently used to capture images of an American football match between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks (pretending like we know anything about American Football. Full disclosure; we have no idea). Our obviously lack of American sporting knowledge aside, the camera is starting to gain some attention and, having been lucky enough to get a demonstration of the Illum at last year’s Photokina, we thought it about time we shared our thoughts on this potentially revolutionary piece of technology.

The camera itself is clearly a massive step forward for the company that introduced us to light field photography back in 2011 with the original Lytro (which looked more like a giant USB stick than a camera). For starters, this looks and acts like a regular camera. We really like the look, actually; it’s kind of futuristic and modern looking without being so totally over the top or out of the ordinary that you’d draw attention to yourself if you took it out in the street. It features what looks to be a pretty responsive touch screen and has some well placed buttons and dials in all the places you’d expect a camera to have them. There we suspect though, is pretty much where the similarities end. As we went to investigate the camera (i.e. pick it up and try it out) we were intercepted by a Lytro rep who took us through some of the touch screen controls and how to actually create an image with the camera (albeit in fairly limited detail). She was much more keen to show us the example gallery of existing images, which suggests (fairly obviously) that this camera has not been made to be used as an everyday point and shoot. We suspect you need to shoot certain subjects in a certain way in order to really see the benefits and potential of something like this.

The Lytro Illum

The Lytro Illum

The ‘living pictures’ (Lytro’s term) that this camera produces are made for the digital world and really are unlike anything else we’ve seen; in order to see the full image you have to literally navigate your way through it either with your mouse or using a touch screen. It certainly opens up a whole raft of new creative opportunities not currently possible on other cameras, but with a fairly hefty price tag, it will most definitely be a while before we see if this catches on or not.

If you’ve never seen any of Lytro’s ‘living pictures’ before, you can check out the images from the NFC Championship game (yup, still no idea) here.


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