Lytro goes 2.0 with upcoming $1599 Illum light-field camera

The concept of shooting first and focusing later may seem bizarre to laymen but is nothing new to photo enthusiasts. Nokia had already demonstrated the concept called “Refocus” back in Oct 2013 and its “Refocus” feature can be found on the Nokia Lumia 920, Lumia 925, Lumia 928, Lumia 1020, and Lumia 1520.

On this front, the latest kid of the block that has set tongues wagging is none other than the light-field cameras from Lytro. And its second iteration promises an enviable feature that lets you refocus after a picture has been capture. Dubbed the Lytro “Illum”, it is an upgrade from its predecessor and can be pre-ordered now for US $1,499. This will go back to its original price US$1,599 after July 15.

For the uninitiated, a Light Field camera works is that it captures the entire light field, recording not just static light details but also light rays and the direction in which they are moving. A key feature is: After the image has been shot you can select a different focal point on the image. To get into further detail, you can deploy companion software hooked up to a PC or Mac computer, or via the LCD touchscreen on the camera’s back. Next, you can build custom animations or export your images into common formats such as JPEG.

And while Light Field cameras have been generally limited to photo labs and specialised imaging studios, Lytro’s offerings for consumers has been around since 2011. Unique to the camera is a special plug-in where one can interact with your images on your choice of internet browsers by clicking to choose your own favourite perspective. Another notable mention is the ability to create 3D graphics, or if you fancy, select tilt and perspective shifts as well as toggle the depth of field (i.e. how much of the photo is in focus).

This will probably ring a bell for photography aficionados, since it bears similarity with Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone – the Galaxy S5. The 16-megapixel communication device offers a built-in selective focus mode that allows you to select between near, far or pan focus right after you have captured an image. However, the Galaxy S5 only has three focus options while the Lytro device enables one to choose any part of your image to keep things sharp and focused.

Lytro’s Illum offers ease of use as this hand-held, DSLR-style device offers 8x optical zoom and its speedy high-speed shutter can gun down sports-worthy images. Targeting a specialised market, its zoom lens offers 30 to 250mm, 1/400 shutter speed, f/2.0 aperture and four-inch touchscreen display. The company touts it to capture 40 million light rays (note that its specs do not list megapixels) to the original’s 11 million. Ultimately, this is one light show you don’t want to miss if you’re a stickler for the latest in photography technology.