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Lytro Illum light-field digital camera announced

Tom Morgan
22 Apr 2014
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Lytro, the company that pioneered consumer light-field photography, has announced its second generation camera, the Illum

The original Lytro light-field camera introduced light-field photography to the general public, but the unusual shape and limited resolution restricted its appeal. The company is looking to change that with the Illum, a new light-field camera that builds on the original but switches the oblong design for a more camera-like design.

Like its predecessor, the Illum is able to capture rays of light rather than individual pixels. Using a software algorithm, that information can be used to create 3D images, or let the photographer refocus their images after they press the shutter button. Although still a unique feature in digital cameras, smartphones are beginning to catch up with their own hardware and software alternatives to light-field photography. Samsung's Galaxy S5 takes multiple exposures to let users choose where to focus, while the HTC One (m8) has a second depth-sensing camera to refocus your shots. Google has just added a Refocus Blur mode to its Android Camera app, meaning anyone with an Android device can mimic Lytro's refocusing abilities.

Lytro Illum

However, the Illum looks set to differentiate itself from the smartphone competition with professional-grade glass. The lens has a focal range of 30-250mm using 13 pieces of glass, with an f/2.0 aperture throughout the zoom range to capture the most amount of light possible per shot. It weighs considerably less than the equivalent digital SLR camera, and looks more like a micro four-thirds model than a full-size dSLR.

A wedge-shaped body which is built from unibody magnesium, an anodized aluminum lens with zoom and focus rings, and silicon rubber grip gives the Illum a unique appearance, that should compete with high-end four thirds cameras from the likes of Fuji, and Olympus.

Lytro Illum

Two adjustable dials, which default exposure and ISO but can be customised as desired, autofocus and autoexposure lock buttons, a depth histogram button and several other programmable keys should provide plenty of manual control for experienced photographers, while a standard hot shoe mount will support any third party flash. Images are saved to SD card, and can be transferred to a PC using either the USB3 port or built-in Wi-Fi. At the back, a 4in touchscreen is hinged and angled towards the user to make it easier to line up shots.

Unfortunately the Illum won't be cheap; whereas the original Lytro can be found online for around £400, Lytro expects the new model to cost around $1,600 when it goes on sale from July onwards. That puts it on par with many digital SLR cameras, so it remains to be seen whether the company has caught up with the competition for its new model.

You can find out mire information about the Illum on the Lytro homepage.

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