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 – Summary

Lytro Illum upper view

Lytro Illum upper view

In its most optimistic moments, Lytro would have us believe that its Light Field technology represents a new age for the medium of photography. When you first set eyes on the Illum and see all of the extraordinary tricks its Light Field technology offers, it’s easy to get swept along by this excitement. The ability to play with focus and depth of field after shooting your images opens up a whole new set of creative options, of which fixing out-of-focus images is just about the least interesting. But you also have to shoot in a consciously different way, as there’s little point in being able to do all this if your image doesn’t have real points of interest at different depths.

So is Lytro ‘the future of photography’? Of course not – image makers will continue to embrace all kinds of tools, and the Illum’s still image quality really isn’t going to make it a realistic alternative to conventional cameras right now, although future iterations will certainly improve. And like any specialist tool, many photographers will struggle to find a place for it once the initial novelty wears off.

But I’m confident that for others, the Illum will provide an exciting new means of creative imaging. Photographers with the imagination to exploit its capabilities will surely be able to make new kinds of images with it, perhaps for such things as macro work, or clever advertising images. It may not represent the future of photography, but it certainly has the potential to become an exciting strand of it.

Lytro Illum – key features

The Illum has a wantonly unconventional design, but still fits in a number of familiar features

Built-in Wi-Fi allows connection to an iOS device for upload of images to Lytro’s site.

Filter thread
A 72mm thread at the front of the lens accepts screw-in filters, including the supplied 4-stop neutral density filter.

Lens hood
The huge included lens hood attaches via an unconventional, and rather fiddly, locking-pin mechanism.

The chunky 3.7V, 3,760mAh Lytro B2 battery slots into the handgrip, and can be topped up using either the supplied charger or in-camera via USB.

A hinged flap on the left side conceals a USB 3.0 port and a 2.5mm electronic-release jack that accepts Canon and Pentax-compatible remotes.

The Illum has no built-in flash. The hotshoe on the top-plate is designed to take upcoming dedicated flash units.

Strap attachment
In one area where form has rather triumphed over function, the strap attaches to lugs at opposite corners of the body.

  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 7 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.