Point, shoot, and focus later – sound counter intuitive? Maybe, but Lytro, a "light-field" camera, does create amazing four-dimensional images.
How it works
Light-field technology is complicated, but the photography is simple: Look through Lytro's 3.8 centimetre touch-screen lens (shaped like a stick of butter, it feels like you're looking through a telescope), zoom in and out by sliding a finger across the top rim, then push the shutter-release button. An image appears on-screen and you can shift the focus by tapping on different parts of the picture. It took more than a few tries and consultation with a photographer to figure out how best to use the camera. Taking a close-up of my husband and son at the dinner table in soft light, for instance, didn't allow for much creativity. Shooting a vibrant bouquet of tulips in a shop window with a sunny cityscape in the background was more successful. I could focus on the flowers, a building or a passerby with a tap of a finger. The LCD screen is tiny. Upload the photos onto a computer using the USB connection and you can tinker with different focal points on a larger screen.
Because there are only two buttons – shutter release and power – and a touch screen that lets you scroll through and delete images, it's relatively easy to use. There's no battery, and it comes with either 8GB or 16GB of memory, so you don't have to invest in a storage card. But after a couple of weeks, I'm still not used to the unusual shape and feel and the small screen. Plus, it takes a lot of practice (unless you're a pro) to figure out how to compose and alter images to get the most out of the camera.
The shoot-now-focus-later technology is cool to fiddle with, but stick with a regular point-and-shoot for the bulk of your holiday snaps. Priced from $399.99 at futureshop.ca.