Lytro Illum

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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

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.

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