Lytro, $US399 lytro.com ★★★★
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.