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Lytro, $US399 ★★★★

THIS cam­era doesn’t just change what you can do with your pho­tos, it changes what pho­tos you cap­ture. Spend more than a day with the Lytro and you’ll find your­self seek­ing photo op­por­tu­ni­ties with added depth: images with some­thing in­ter­est­ing in the fore­ground and some­thing equally com­pelling in the back­ground.

In short, you’ll seek pic­tures wor­thy of this cam­era’s unique imag­ing tech­nol­ogy.

The Lytro is the first com­mer­cially avail­able cam­era to use light-field tech­nol­ogy. It cap­tures light rays as they en­ter the cam­era’s main lens and hit a se­ries of mi­cro-lenses in front of its sen­sor.

This lets users re­fo­cus images af­ter they’ve cap­tured them, chang­ing a photo’s main sub­ject or show­ing a pre­vi­ously un­no­ticed back­ground de­tail. Users can achieve this ef­fect on the Lytro’s ba­sic viewfinder — a 1.5-inch touch­screen at the rear of the cam­era.

Sweep­ing a fin­ger across this screen ac­cesses the play­back menu, where you can tap pho­tos to see the fo­cus swap from one sub­ject to an­other. The rest of the cam­era is sim­i­larly sim­ple to use, in spite of the complicated tech­nol­ogy in­side. Its three ex­te­rior con­trols in­clude buttons to turn it on and re­lease its shut­ter, and a touch-sen­si­tive area to use its 8x op­ti­cal zoom.

The Lytro fea­tures a f2.0 lens to achieve its depth of field and comes in 8GB or 16GB, stor­ing 350 or 750 pho­tos, re­spec­tively.

This in­no­va­tive cam­era has fail­ings, though. The Lytro of­fers an 11-megaray res­o­lu­tion, re­fer­ring to the light rays it cap­tures, but its pho­tos only of­fer a stan­dard res­o­lu­tion of 1.2 megapix­els, mak­ing them best for shar­ing on­line. Its low-res­o­lu­tion screen is also hard to see at an an­gle, users can’t change set­tings other than ex­po­sure, and its soft­ware is Mac-only for now.


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