The Lytro Illum is a unique camera featuring Light Field technology that allows images to be refocused after shooting. Andy Westlake investigates its exciting potential

Product Overview

Lytro Illum


Lytro Illum review

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Lytro Illum review – Image quality

All this is great, but what about image quality? Well, to be honest, as a £1,300 stills camera, the Illum isn’t great. It may collect 40 megarays of information, but only a small subset of this data is used for any given image. The upshot is that the software only creates 4-million-pixel images, and these aren’t even technically all that good, with little in the way of fine detail and a tendency to show some rather strange processing artefacts. The files are fine for small prints, up to 7x5in perhaps, but beyond that the lack of quality starts to tell.

However, at this point we’d re-iterate that making still images from the Illum really isn’t the point – the camera is all about making ‘Living Images’ or animations.

ISO settings, detail and noise

The Illum is ultimately a camera, which means we have to assess its image quality. Below we’re showing examples printed at 300ppi, equivalent to an 8.2 x 5.5in print.

Even at low ISOs there’s not a lot of fine detail, and the image can show strange jaggies along straight edges. Noise is becoming quite visible at ISO 800, and shadow detail starts to disappear at ISO 1600. The ISO 3200 setting really isn’t very good at all.

Lytro Illum ISO 80

ISO 80: 100% crop

See the full size image at ISO 80


Lytro Illum ISO 100

ISO 100: 100% crop

See the full size image at ISO 100


Lytro Illum ISO 200-01

ISO 200: 100% crop

See the full size image at ISO 200


Lytro Illum ISO 400

ISO 400: 100% crop

See the full size image at ISO 400


Lytro Illum ISO 800

ISO 800: 100% crop

See the full size image at ISO 800


Lytro Illum - ISO 1600

ISO 1600: 100% crop

See the full size image at ISO1600


Lytro Illum - ISO 3200

ISO 3200: 100% crop

See the full size image at ISO 3200

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Lytro Illum review - Design and operation
  3. 3. Lytro Illum review - Lytro Desktop software
  4. 4. Lytro Illum review - Image quality
  5. 5. Lytro Illum review - Focus
  6. 6. Lytro Illum review - Depth of field
  7. 7. Lytro Illum review - Summary
Page 4 of 7 - Show Full List
  • entoman

    The image quality of the current camera is atrocious, the file sizes are ridiculous, and the time needed to download images is to say the least, excessive. However, the technology is still at a very early stage and we all know how quickly technology advances, given sufficient investment and competition, so I expect that all of these criticisms will be overcome within 5-10 years. A long time to wait, but miracles don’t happen overnight!

    I disagree that this type of technology will only be of interest to those wanting to produce animations. I can see it being extremely useful for photojournalistic photography, landscapes, architectural photography and portraits. It may also prove very useful for macro photography, eliminating the need for focus-stacking.

    Lytro deserve to do well, and I hope they receive the investment that will allow them (and other companies) to advance this technology rapidly. In a few years cameras like this will output 40 megapixel ultra high quality images, and file compression technology will remove the hindrances of slow downloading and processing. This is extremely exciting technology, and it’s just a matter of time before it becomes commonplace and much more affordable.