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Review of Lytro Ligth-Field Camera

Discussion in 'Other Systems' started by Biro, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
  2. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    Light field cameras are definitely exciting. And I'll say it right now, the future. But with all first attempts, this first camera leaves much to be desired. I think of it more as a technology demonstrator than anything else. Much like the Fuji W3, it's kind of a crappy 2D camera but an excellent 3D camera. Once you get over the joy of focusing after you take the picture, the 2D pictures aren't anything to write home about. It's the coming 3D features that excite me most.

    Here's a more complete review.

    Lytro review | The Verge
     
  3. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    interesting technology... but i am utterly unimpressed... its a great demo... but I can't see if i was shooting at say f2 how it could possibly allow me to shift the focus from a nose to an eye

    oddly they never demonstrate a low light wide aperture situation..


    sounds like a high tech answer to sunny 16

    K
     
  4. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    It does shoot at F2. It only shoots at F2. It's an 8X constant aperature lens at F2. How many people would pay $399 for that alone?

    Science Inside | Lytro

    You are thinking in terms of an image projected onto a 2D plane as in old school photography. That's not how this camera takes pictures. It can compute a image to show you, but that's not what it captures. Much like how you can make a 2D picture from the diffraction pattern of a hologram, the 2D image is not what is captured.

    It captures data that is used to compute an image. That actually may be it's salvation for early adopters. While the 2D images aren't particularly impressive now. They may get better as the algorithms get better. So with the same data you collect today, you may have much better IQ a year, 2 years or ? years from now as the software gets better to process it.
     
  5. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    still all reads like marketing testicles to me... and i should know i have delivered enough of them over the years

    I am sure there is something there... but it smells awfully like the foveon sensor, 3D TV. Polavision, Bluray to me... a great theoretical technology that doesn't actually deliver to the public

    i would be happy to proved wrong... but i think this is another foveon

    K
     
  6. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
  7. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    I know what you are trying to say. I used to work in consumer electronics and butted heads with the marketing dweebs frequently. But the underlying science in this is undisputable. As I said, I'm familiar with this from my research days back at Stanford. Here's the paper for it.

    http://hci.stanford.edu/cstr/reports/2005-02.pdf

    Reading it should make it clear that it's for real.

    Mark Levoy and Pat Hanrahan wouldn't put their names on it if it wasn't. They have big reps to protect.

    I'm also curious, how has Bluray failed to deliver?
     
  8. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    Well, at least it's generating a lot of discussion. At $399, it may be worth a try.
     
  9. Linh

    Linh Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 14, 2009
    Maryland, US
    Well, they've proved the technology works. The question is can it be scaled. And can they stick it into something that isn't a square tube =)

    That's not to say it has it's drawbacks. One being price. The other being IQ.

    Heh, I would say that if a decimal place was shifted to the left one =)
     
  10. At this point in time, I think the first sentence of this review says it all:

     
  11. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    Personally, I don't think it'll sell well for that. Being cheap, I'll wait for it to be blown out for $200 or lower and then pick one up as a collector's item if nothing else. I still like to point to my Zoomer when Apple fans proclaim how revolutionary the iphone was. Pioneers rarely succeed, it's the people that come after then and learn from their mistakes that make a successful product.

    Why won't it sell? Consider the audience. It's geared towards the cell phone generation. Thus the simple design. They just want something they can whip out and snap a shot whenever and wherever. And there in lies the problem. If they can't be bothered to carry around a P&S camera with their cell phones, why would they carry around a 4 inch tube? The price is also a factor. That money would better spent on the iphone 5.

    So while I think this is the future, as I said before, I consider this more of a technology demonstrator. Someone like Sony, who excels at building microprism sensors, needs to partner with them and shrink this into something that will fit into a P&S camera. Or they need to bust out that 16MP cell phone sensor they've been sitting on for a couple of years and build this into a smart phone that does have enough computing power already to process the data.
     
  12. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Light field is a load of crap.

    Sorry, but Lytro delivered a solution to a problem nobody has. And their marketing tries to pretend they did something else. Their basic sell is that everybody gets blurry photos all the time, that Lytro light-field solves this problem by allowing you to correct focus after the fact. This is half true. When you're looking at pictures that the average person takes (say at a party), they are invariably blurry. Trouble is, almost none of those shots missed focus. How could they? The lens on something like an iPhone is fairly close to hyperfocal. No, most shots are blurry because the shutter speeds are too low and ISO couldn't be pushed high enough to get a fast shot. That's the killer problem everyone needs fixed. Missed focus is a few percentage points in comparison.

    That's my ideological objection to light field. For general purpose use, nobody is having trouble with missing focus most of the time. Some people are having trouble with acquiring focus, especially on compacts that take forever to find an AF point. I guess Lytro does solve that problem by simply deferring the decision to later. That's the closest they get to answering the question of "what customer pain does this product fix?"

    Now there are technical issues with this camera. They are mostly resolvable, long term, but people seem to gloss over them. What light-field fundamentally does is to focus the light-rays slightly differently to nearby photosites. What they've done, really, is to create a layered 3-dimensional box of an image. Each value now has a Z value associated with it, but the resolution is limited. From their samples, I suspect it's half a dozen or so. Those Z values are fixed planes that cannot be adjusted at all. So the focus slices are always taken at exactly the same depths, and you do some image processing in software to work out the details.

    It's very likely you can't shift focus like that, because the nose and eye are on very close distances. It's unlikely that the planes cover that much resolution, so instead you have to interpolate and make a guess. There are some implications for sharpness here.

    This is also a little muddied because as far as I can tell, they spent an awful lot of time on hardware. I'm sure it was necessary. What I mean, though, is that it looks like the image processing is crap. Think of the really old camera JPEG engines that barfed out garbage. I think that some skilled engineers and a year or two could produce much better light-field images (in terms of how the bokeh looks especially) than what is currently being shown.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    Patrick
    I've said it long ago when it first came out, and I will say it again: this technology is revolutionary. The average P&S user doesn't know how to properly focus a camera. Fortunately, the DOF of a P&S allows the user to get away with it most of the time. Lytro technology will solve this problem for the average P&S user.

    Having said that, this doesn't mean the camera will sell well. The design, it's lack of zooming capability, and the high price will almost certainly render it nothing more than a fancy gadget... However, the technology is promising enough that Apple offered to buy the company so it can put the technology into its future iPhones...
     
  14. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Mu-43 Regular

    113
    Nov 9, 2011
    Whitehorse, Yukon
    I bet there were people who thought color film was a bunch of crap... or 35mm film instead of 8x10 sheets... or digital sensors.

    Have you seen the first digital camera? It plugged into something the size of a VCR, cost tens of thousands of dollars and the images it produced were crap compared to ANY film available at the time. Yet somehow we're all here today shooting on those very same digital cameras.

    When you consider that this new technology is being released at the everyday consumer level, I think it's pretty damn cool. It may or may not go anywhere but I don't know why everyone is hating on it.
     
  15. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    Check out Walt's take on it. There's a picture of a Starbucks cup. If you click around the cup. Say at the rim and then on the Starbucks text a bit further down, the focus does change. That would be similar to clicking between someone's eye and nose.

    Lytro Camera Lets You Pick What's Blurry And What's Not - Walt Mossberg - Personal Technology - AllThingsD

    The more and more I think about it, why didn't they make it into a tube with an eye level viewfinder. It does look like a little telescope or a kaleidescope. It would be more nature if it had a EVF instead of a tiny screen.
     
  16. Linh

    Linh Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 14, 2009
    Maryland, US
    someone is going to start a kickstarter to make an eyecup for it. It's small enough.
     
  17. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    Patrick
    I, for one, am not a hater, but rather a stern supporter. I have been showing the Lytro demo to all my friends over the last 6 months, and everyone who's seen it is impressed... I sure hope the company succeed, giving us another cool gear to play with...
     
  18. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    lens

    I have no doubt the technology works, and that perhaps someday it will be part of the photography experience.

    But as it stands at the moment it strikes me as a clever technological feature with an ill defined benefit

    Consumers want their pictures to be in focus more than they wish to be able to change the point of focus. There are simpler solutions to getting an image in focus

    People buy benefits not features

    In my years of marketing for a big fruity computer company, we were regularly required to demonstrate video conferencing, go back through quite a few steve jobs keynote presentation over the years, and you will see it was a regular feature.

    For steve, these demos always went flawlessly - and I am sure they served the purpose of reinforcing the marketing message that Apple were at the forefront of everything groovy.

    however replicating the experience at presentations and trade shows in europe was an object lesson in frustration. Bottom line was that while the technology did work, the benefits often didn't outweigh the effort required. I reckon in the last 10 years I have used video chat for non demo purposes about a dozen times, and while I am sure there are people who use it on a regular basis, I am sure they are not the majority.

    regarding Bluray... it did deliver on its promise of hi definition content - but it will be gone in 5-10 years because delivery of content on silver discs is a technological cul de sac. Look what has happened to the music CD.

    cheers

    K
     
  19. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    agree 100%

    cheers

    K
     
  20. foto2021

    foto2021 Mu-43 Veteran

    301
    Nov 5, 2011
    SE England

    You forgot Silicon Film.

    Silicon Film - Dead Media Archive
    Silicon Film Strikes Back?: Digital Photography Review
    Does anyone remember Silicon Film? - Crave - CNET Asia
    http://www.sitmark.com/Portfolio/SiliconFilmOverview.pdf

    Unlike Silicon Film, which would probably have had a market but lacked the necessary investment, the Lytro is a solution looking for a problem.