A new camera

by foodhoe on April 14, 2012

I was unable to resist ordering one of these new fangled cameras called the Lytro.  It has a completely new type of light sensor which uses sophisticated algorithms that use the full light field to unleash new ways to make and view pictures.  What’s that mean?  You can refocus a picture after it’s taken.

It’s a weird looking thing, most people do a double take when they see me using it.  A few thought it was a kaleidoscope, someone asked if it was a telescope.  It’s really hard to get used to, and the viewfinder is only an inch square, which is just wrong in this day and age of camera phones and LCD viewers that are at least 3 inches wide.

Light field cameras offer astonishing capabilities. They allow both the picture taker and the viewer to focus pictures after they’re snapped, shift their perspective of the scene, and even switch seamlessly between 2D and 3D views. With these amazing capabilities, pictures become interactive visual stories as never before seen – Lytro calls them living pictures.

This is the ocean in Pacific Grove where Mr. K and I went last weekend.  You can click anywhere in the picture and it will refocus on the point that you click.  Pretty slick, isn’t it?

We checked out the Jellies Experience at the Monterey Bay Aquarium while we were there.  It was really cool, although the aquarium was jam packed with people on the holiday weekend.

Sometimes nothing happens when you click on the picture, I think the servers at Lytro are still being ramped up.  You can tell the software is processing correctly if you see a series of concentric squares where you click on the picture and it will refocus.

It’s very cool in regards to photos of food.  Consider this closeup of a delicious breadstick with a dollop of romesco sauce that we devoured at Casanova’s in Carmel.  You can click on the breadstick in front with the dip, or on the cup of breadsticks, or the little bowl of sauce and you get surprisingly well rounded perspective on that dish.

This is a very delicious scoop of Black Sesame ice cream that I enjoyed today at Humphrey Slocumbe in SF.  Click on the ice cream, then click on the ice cream sign in the background.

you can focus on the krispy kreme donut in the foreground or the background.

or you can focus anywhere on the garlic parmesan cheesy topping on the fries at the Counter Burger in Walnut Creek that I enjoyed this week.

You can do the same with this photo of sushi we enjoyed at Roys Restaurant at the Inn at Spanish Bay last week.  Fabulous salmon in the back, ahi in the middle, hamachi in the front.  That was some amazingly fresh fish….

Anyways, I just wanted to introduce you to the new camera and features it offers.  In the future any photos that have the Lytro logo on them are living photos that you can click on to change the focus.  In the bottom right corner of the photo you can click to view an enlarged view of the photo that will open up a new browser window.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa April 15, 2012 at 2:31 am

A great new toy! The pictures are really good.




Row April 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Wow! It was totally fun to click on the photos… one can admire the food from different perspectives. My favourite is the one of the fries… I love how you can see the texture of the cheese in the foreground and the vividness of the herbs and pepper in the background. 🙂


foodhoe April 15, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Hey Row, isn’t it cool? I can’t wait to see how the 3d works, that feature is supposed to be available soon.


Su-Lin April 15, 2012 at 3:01 pm

This is so cool! I had read about these cameras but not seen one in action. Thanks for sharing!


Su-Lin April 15, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Quick question: how long does it take to take a photo? Is it quite fast?


foodhoe April 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Hey Su-Lin,

It is very zippy! I think most of the processing is in the software. There is no flash and I notice quite a bit of noise in the pictures taken in dim light.


Ben April 15, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Ooooh, fancy! I read about this camera too, but didn’t realize that the photos changed focus on your own website. I thought you changed the focus on your computer and then you have the snapshot. Didn’t realize the photo actually is animated even when you upload it to your website. Now that’s super cool. We have to go out to dinner soon so I can watch you in action! 😉


foodhoe April 19, 2012 at 7:54 am

I’m in!


Kirk April 20, 2012 at 7:32 am

I’d read about these and was curious. It’s good to see how it works.


Carolyn Jung April 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm

This is amazing! What a fun new toy to play with. So interactive, too. OK, I must ask two things: 1) How much is it? 2) When would you most use this camera as opposed to your usual DSLR?


foodhoe April 29, 2012 at 4:03 pm

1) $400 USD
2) I want to use it always, because now my fingers itch to click on unfocused parts of the picture to see it in focus!


Gastronomer April 25, 2012 at 4:32 pm



Bonnibella May 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Amazing!! I need to test drive one of these. So interactive!


rara August 19, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I’ve been considering getting a lytro primarily for food pics. I’ve read about drawbacks particularly with low lighting. After using it for a few months, would you still recommend it?


foodhoe August 20, 2012 at 3:25 am

Hi rara, Yes! I recommend it, although I don’t use it as my primary camera. It can produce some incredible effects. The most exciting feature, the ability to change the focal point when viewing the photo afterwards is exceptionally cool. Overall I feel that I get more reliably good pictures from the Lumix with the macro lens. I often take the same shot with both cameras and the Lytro picture is always from a different perspective. In full bright light it takes fantastic shots.

The drawbacks: you don’t get nearly the same results in low light at all, there is a lot of noise, and there is no way to process the photo without flattening it out into a .jpg. In low light, the results are similar to point and shoot cameras from 10 years ago. The Lytro is not wired for social media. You download the photos to your computer first, then you upload them to the Lytro server in order for the living photo aspect to work. Then you can share it to facebook, twitter or google+ (the only social media options right now) and get the link to embed it on your site (similar to YouTube videos). So it’s clunky and there are definite drawbacks to it, but the living picture aspect can’t be beat.


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