Friday, March 2, 2012

Lytro First Impressions

Update: I got a few things wrong in this post. First of all, it is possible to export a JPEG image from the desktop software. Right-clicking on the photo will reveal the export option. Second, the Lytro does have an accelerometer inside, and the orientation of the photo is corrected in the desktop software. Sorry about that! 3/28/2012

I can finally scoot back off the edge of my chair. My blue Lytro camera arrived today. The camera is weird. Weird good? Weird bad? I'm not sure. These are some random thoughts I have after walking around to take a few photos. I'll try to avoid covering stuff other reviews noted (The Verge, Scoble) noted.



Although I have been reading up on the Lytro, there are a few things I didn't realize. First, the lens cap is a magnetic chunk of grey and black rubber. Pretty cool, but without a tether of some sort, it seems likely to get lost.



The second weird thing: off doesn't mean off. After the Lytro has been switched off for a few seconds, it reactivates and changes the zoom level. I can feel the vibrations when it happens. I bet the designers felt the wide angle was probably more useful when you switch the camera on.



I also didn't expect that you could use the shutter button to turn the camera on. Nice shortcut.

Without looking, just about the only feature I can feel on the Lytro is the shutter button. Traditional cameras might not look as cool as the Lytro, but finding the top is easy.

Other reviewers have noted it, but the display feels like looking through a screen door. The pixels are fat with distinct borders around them.

In viewfinder mode, the Lytro draws a little blue frame around the image. Is this color matched to each of the three colors? I don't know. It seems like a waste of the few pixels available though. Update: the blue frame around the image indicates that the camera is in Creative Mode rather than Everyday Mode. Reading the manual helps...

The touch screen works well for some gestures, and has a hard time with others. I like that you can "star" photos on the camera (and that those photos will be given priority in the intensive processing the software performs to make the photos usable). The starring feature is brilliant. But tapping the star can seem impossible. It takes me three tries on average. My fingers must be fat.

The Lytro makes a click when transitioning from dark surroundings to bright surroundings. So far I have not seen an aperture other than f2.0. Is there a Neutral Density filter popping in and out of there to regulate light?

The bottom of the Lytro reads "Designed in California Made in China". That sounds familiar.

Suggestions to Lytro (AKA John's wish list)

  • Allow the zoom slider to optionally behave like a rocker switch, or make both ends of the slide continue the zoom direction until the finger is lifted. Scrubbing is boring.
  • Put an accelerometer in the device, and let the user shoot upright in any of the four orientations. I think I might rather use my thumb for the shutter button. Update: I was wrong. The desktop software automatically fixes the orientation.
  • Let users choose the focus point with a sliders (e.g. in feet or meters). Extra points for the ability to change the depth of field.
  • Let me output jpeg files from the desktop software! Update: Again I was wrong. Right click on a photo in the desktop software to get to the export menu.
  • Add some sort of clip or hole to the lens cap so that it won't be lost.
  • Add a clip to the side of the Lytro so I can carry it on my belt.
  • Add something to the design so I can feel which side is up, and feel where the zoom slider is better.
  • A Lightroom or Aperture workflow would be nice!
  • The lens cap is magnetic. Why not behave like the iPad and turn the camera on and off using the lens cap?

2 comments:

Nirav Patel said...

"The lens cap is magnetic. Why not behave like the iPad and turn the camera on and off using the lens cap?"

I like that idea. It would also be nice if there was some other ferrous region on the body that you could stick the lens cap to while using the camera.

John M. P. Knox said...

Hi Nirav,

I like the idea for a storage spot for the cap! I hope Lytro reads your comment.