Camera maker Lytro is accepting pre-orders for its revolutionary Lytro camera, which lets the user snap photos instantaneously and manually change the image's focus and perspective later.
The Lytro camera features an 8x optical zoom, and is available in 8 GB or 16 GB, which can hold 350 or 750 photos, respectively. The camera comes in three colors, including red hot, electric blue and graphite, and will only be compatible with Mac computers running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or higher at launch. Pricing starts at $399.
Camera and photo technology has greatly improved over the last several years, but until Lytro came along, no one had addressed the camera's one consistent imperfection: shutter lag. Too many fleeting moments and perfect shots were missed due to finicky auto-focusing or time-consuming manual focusing.
But no longer.
Lytro, the Silicon Valley start-up, has tackled the focus problem. The Lytro camera quickly takes an out-of-focus picture, but thanks to the advanced mechanisms within the camera itself, users can adjust, sharpen, and focus any part of the photo while viewing it on a computer screen. By eliminating shutter lag, this camera ensures you never miss a perfect shot.
They become interactive, living pictures, said Ren Ng, Lytro's founder and chief executive.
Users can click any part of a photo and the image will adjust to the new focal point. This mechanism allows photographers to create the perfect photo every time. Furthermore, users can upload the photos to Facebook, Twitter, or even blogs, where friends can get a chance to interact and play around with the photo's focus.
We see technology companies all the time, but it's rare that someone comes along with something that is this much of a breakthrough, said Ben Horowitz, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz. It's super exciting.
Developed by Ng, the Lytro camera achieves its own version of 20/20 hindsight by capturing more light from many more angles than what's possible with a conventional camera. Specifically, Lytro devices can capture 11 million light rays, and record aspects of light including color, intensity and direction. The camera collects and combine raw light data with a unique sensor called a microlens array, which is at the very heart of Lytro's invention.
Lytro cameras also capture enough data to create 3-D images, which can be viewed on a computer screen with 3-D glasses.
We can just make a better product this way, and really show what we can do, Ng said. The big camera makers are mostly polishing existing technology, and we didn't want to do this in an incremental way.
Lytro raised $50 million in VC funding back in June from a number of premier investors, including major investor Andreesen Horowitz.
Lytro will ship pre-orders and go on sale in early 2012.