Lytro Support/Support Forums/Lytro Camera - Support Questions

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Why does every photo have so much noise?

James Mitchell
asked this on March 23, 2012 03:01 PM

Every photo I take is very noising.... there is no sharpness, and honestly I don't see much difference between the focal points... everything seems to have a baseline blurriness.  I was taking photos outdoors in the middle of the day at the Cherry Blossom festival in Washington; I checked several photos and the shutter speed was 1/250 and the ISO was 160.  Am I doing something wrong, or are my expectations too high?

 

Comments

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adam gould
Lytro Staff

James,  I'd love to take a look, but I see you haven't shared any public pictures yet... would you mind sharing a few to Lytro Web (pictures.lytro.com) so I can see?

March 23, 2012 03:13 PM
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James Mitchell

Hello.  I have uploaded public pictures: https://pictures.lytro.com/jmitchell.  

March 29, 2012 02:11 PM
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adam gould
Lytro Staff
Check Answer

James,

Thank you for sharing your pictures with me. None of those pictures have any refocusability because they are all prettymuch at optical infinity; if you want refocusability, you need to start thinking in 3D! You want to conceive of, compose, and shoot your picture so that it contains something in the foreground, and you need to be close. In everyday mode at 1x, Really close! I'm talking 6 inches. As you explore using the zoom, you want your nearest object to be further away too.

Here's an example of a couple of pictures I took not so long ago:

http://pictures.lytro.com/goolie/stories/1764

http://pictures.lytro.com/goolie/pictures/34453

I guess what I would say is this:

  • There's a learning curve. I recommend reviewing the following resources:
  • As far as whether or not your expectations were too high, I can only say that the Lytro camera was not designed to replace your point-and-shoot or DSLR; it is a second camera you're going to use to explore the new possibilities that only Lytro can bring you in 3D composition and story-telling.
  • Finally, refocusability is just the *first* thing we have released. We have other exciting light field effects we'll be releasing in the months ahead: perspective shift, 3D output, all in focus... and you'll be able to apply those effects to all the light field pictures you've taken. But... in order to get the most out of those future effects, you need to understand how to compose a good light field picture. In that sense, it's no different from traditional photography: learning technique is the most important thing of all.

UPDATE: Perspective Shift has been released:
March 29, 2012 08:27 PM
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Grant Hendrick

James, I too have been learning about the camera and think Adam has put up some very good links. 

One point I would like to add to Adam's comment about not being a DSLR replacement. The Lytro is so small (more so than many lenses) and easily fits in a pocket - I often carry both (I tend to shoot sports). The DSLR is great for the solely long distance shots you took.  I then look for shots that have some interesting depth and I pull out the Lytro for shots that only the Lytro can capture. 

Find situations that the composition will benefit from having something in a side of the image that is interesting and something further away. It is a new way of thinking, but not totally -- sometimes one uses a tree branch or door/window frame to compose a shot -- now one can have both in focus. Another fun way to use the Lytro is to shoot through glass or at a reflection -- this will often fool a DSLR. Same with a fence -- how often does the auto-focus get the fence -- now not an issue. 

Have fun,

Grant

 

March 29, 2012 10:50 PM
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David Drosick

I agree that some users are mistaking this camera for their DSLR or point and shoot.  It is a totally different beast.  The camera is an amazing amount of fun, but you need experience using it.  Furthermore, you need to play with it in "everday" and "creative mode".  While you are not going to blow up its pictures to poster size, it is an awesome way to document a story and share with friends.  I am not a super user of facebook; however, I have posted several pics on facebook with great results.  Furthermore; it is extremely easy to do which makes it more fun.  You shouldn't compare this to a traditional camera.  Just point, click, and share some fun.  Once you get used to it, you will have a blast. 

May 08, 2012 12:08 PM
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James Mitchell

Well, I'm profoundly disappointed in the image quality.  I can't recommend this camera to anyone.   I'm sorry I purchased it.  Too bad the image quality isn't half as slick as the marketing department.  

May 08, 2012 12:51 PM
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Dave Hudson

I think only half of Jim's comment/question was addressed.  I agree on the points regarding focusing, but I must admit that Jim has a point in regards to the overall quality of the pictures.  They don't handle light variations very well and the pictures are very grainy.  I would at least like to see lytro's response on that point.  The first generation of digital cameras were also sub-megapixel and grainy, but they evolved over time.  Is Lytro at least recognizing the poor pixel count and planning to improve the quality of the pictures taken in future models?

May 11, 2012 12:36 PM
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Dave Hudson

Adding to my comment, here is a good example.  There is a foreground subject and depth.... but it is very grainy due to the light variations:

http://pictures.lytro.com/davehudsn/pictures/153228#./153229?&_...

 

May 11, 2012 12:38 PM
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Dave Hudson

Sorry - Lytro website gave me the wrong URL/link:

http://pictures.lytro.com/davehudsn/pictures/153229

 

May 11, 2012 12:39 PM
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Grant Hendrick

Howdy Dave,

I wonder about the type of light and the grain that results. 

When I take pics outdoors or with windows letting in sunlight my feeling is that I get less grain than with other types of light. Another question that I have not address fully yet is the uniformity of the light. Not surprisingly I think the best pics have uniform light -- which is not always possible.

 In the picture of you (?) in the hallway it looks like on your right there are florescent lights coming through the interior windows. You are also being lit by the overhead lights (led or halogen ?) the only sunlight is right behind you but very far back. 

As to the question of Lytro's plans -- I can only address this as a beta tester, but it is very clear to me they want this to be a long term company with plans to keep improving the technology, the current camera and what ever future products they are most likely developing.

One point to make for the current camera -- Lytro states they are continuing to work on the software and will be releasing upgrades this year (and I bet even more in the future). The second point is that due to the light-field technology being used it will be possible to reprocess pictures that one takes now with future software upgrades to see the new effects.

I am confident that we will see this technology (which is an interesting combination of hardware and software) evolve in very interesting ways.

Cheers,

Grant

May 11, 2012 01:41 PM
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James Mitchell

Dave,

Thank you!  That example typifies the problem.  Low resolution, and no apparent "re-focus" going on no matter where you click.  Anybody want to purchase a low resolution grainy camera that's super fragile and is awkward to grip?

May 11, 2012 02:19 PM
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Steve daviss

I have a different experience than James'. I got my Lytro 2 days ago and am still getting the hang of how to compose good shots. I read the specs on the camera before deciding to buy and had low expectations on quality due to the low pixel count. I expected something like a first gen iphone camera, and that's about what I got. This IS a first gen lightfield device.

In my library (https://pictures.lytro.com/drdaviss), the bread shot is indeed grainy. It was taken in a restaurant, lights are kind of low. The ISO is 2500 at 1/60th.

The garden shot, on the other hand, is less grainy, though still noticeable with a zoom (160 at 1/250). I also noticed some odd hexagonal patterning artifact from the light refraction off the unfocused water drops. Zoom in on the middle of the photo, focusing on the leaves. notice the hexagonal patterns in the upper-left quadrant as well as the linear diagonal artifact amongst the purple onion flower heads in the lower right corner.

I assume these artifacts are due to the lightfield technology itself, though I would love to hear an explanation that links it to the underlying technology details.

May 12, 2012 10:34 AM
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adam gould
Lytro Staff

In general, image quality is extremely subjective, and we see that in this very topic. What is acceptable to some, is unacceptable to others. Our many happy customers are those like Steve, Grant, and David D who do not have DSLR or point and shoot expectations, and are using the Lytro to compose and shoot pictures that are simply not possible with traditional cameras. These users are loving their cameras and having a blast.

I definitely see some image quality complaints that technique can improve (better lighting, steadier hand or use of a stabilization object like a cup, closer to a near subject, etc).

Lack of re-focus is always a learning issue; if you've got no refocus, please see my 2nd post in this thread. You just need to spend some time learning the tool -- I'm not trying to poo-poo the issue, but this is something that you have the ability to do something about.

However, other things are the way they are. Here's where we're at with image quality:

http://support.lytro.com/entries/21035596-understanding-image-quality

The Lytro camera is capable of terrific pictures, once you understand how to optimally set up your shot (and assuming you are not expecting the 2D quality of a traditional camera).  While I don't pretend to be any kind of expert photographer, please feel free to go though my gallery, every picture is taken with a stock Lytro camera, exactly the same as the ones each of you have: http://pictures.lytro.com/goolie#

As a meta-comment, this is a great discussion and I thank everyone for keeping it civil and productive. 

Steve - those odd hexagonal/linear patterns are, indeed, artifacts of the MLA (microlens array) and will improve over time as we nail our filters down.   You're also going to see it bigtime if you ever take a picture directly into a very bright point-light source, such as a spotlight.  It's our signature lens flare >;-)

May 16, 2012 04:55 PM
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James Mitchell

Thanks for the... mildly condescending slam? 

I'm simply not getting "terrific pictures" from my unit.  Nothing refocuses, and many pictures outdoors are not white balance.  I'm sincerely disappointed and have lost interest in my lytro camera.  Can I retrun it for a refund?

May 16, 2012 05:44 PM
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adam gould
Lytro Staff

James, I did not intend to be condescending and I do apologize if I came across that way. If you would like, I would be happy to review some examples of your shots and can give you some pointers on how to give depth and refocusability to your pictures. Pictures without depth are due to all objects in your composition being at optical infinity (aka 'flatland'); you are just too far away from your nearest object.

White balance is one of those things we will improve over time, and, in most cases, these improvements can be retroactively applied to the pictures you have already captured.

You may, of course, return your camera for a refund during the 30-day return period; our full returns policy is here

May 16, 2012 06:02 PM
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Steve daviss

Also, I notice that on eBay, they are going for a little bit more than the Lytro price, so James you might be able to make a few bucks. It is probably not for everyone.

BTW, I lost my cap (first week :-/ ) and wrote to Support... sending me a new one gratis. That's a smart customer service decision. Thanks.

May 16, 2012 06:21 PM
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Grant Hendrick

Howdy Steve,

I agree with your attitude that this is a really cool technology and the ability of what the camera can do will improve with time. What I like is that simple software upgrades will make much of that possible. I also am not at all surprised that Lytro did the right thing with the lens cap. 

When I first received the camera for the first day I swear the lens cap was possessed and played Hide & Seek. I do have a suggestion for that -- I use a soft sunglasses bag -- it helps keep the lens cap in place when the camera is in my pocket and when I take it out of my pocket the lens camp falls off inside the bag and not on the ground. I have had no issues since I started that. Lytro is aware of the lens caps coming off and I am confident that they will have a case (or someone else) on the market soon.

Looking forward to seeing your images,

Grant

May 17, 2012 10:02 PM
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Grant Hendrick

James,

Sorry if it turn out the camera is not for you, but to give a contrasting view on the durability of the camera -- it seems sturdy to me and I know someone who dropped one of the cameras waist high to the ground with no problems -- so from my experience and what I have heard the camera's ability to withstand handling is right in there with other cameras and electronics -- I have seem more cracked iPhones than Lytros for example.

On the issue of ergonomics -- just like vertical computer mice which are not for everyone, some will love some will not love the Lytro shape.  The Lytro I find more natural. The traditional camera had to allow for film and digital cameras kept the same form factor, but there is no real need for that. Video cameras are a great example of getting away from the traditional camera design. Maybe as DSLRs become even better at video the low end video cameras will go away; but, there is no functional need for the shape anymore. I hope that when Lytro thinks about Camera 2.0 they will keep ergonomics in mind -- particularly what hand positions allow for the most steady holding of the Camera 2.0. I have some ideas how that could be assessed.  

Best wishes what ever you decide to do with your camera,

Grant

May 17, 2012 11:03 PM
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Grant Hendrick

Adam,

I thought your comments were well intended and constructive. I totally agree with the point that this is a camera that is evolving. I do not think most people recognize how much this camera has matured from the laboratory just a few short years ago and how much potential power there is in camera as the software is improved. 

I will happily say that for certain times I bring both my DSLR and Lytro -- such as lacrosse games -- both have different strengths. When I want to not really think about a DSLR it is super easy to slip the Lytro in my pocket and be ready for something cool that turns up. What I really like is the way the Lytro is making me think about composition. I like the depth and thinking about composition in depth. The square shape is fun -- I will say that for a more advanced Lytro Camera 2.0 I would suggest a rectangle because from a composition point of view -- say sports it is nice to have the subject running into space -- not the edge of the frame. But for this consumer oriented camera the square shape really makes one think.

My working with Maya and 3D is helping me appreciate the depth of composition -- for some this will be a harder idea to grasp.

Cheers,

Grant 

May 17, 2012 11:18 PM
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Grant Hendrick

To All, 

One last comment for the evening -- I just had the fun of seeing a bit of what is coming at some point this year in terms of Lytro software upgrades -- the View Shift and 3D ability of the camera -- with the image data from pictures you have now -- one will be able to reprocess the images and then look at them a whole new way at some point this year. This next step is really very compelling as to why to start using the camera now and why this new technology is very exciting.

Grant

May 17, 2012 11:36 PM
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Campbell Macduff
Well I have to say I've only had my camera a few days but am really enjoying it. As you can see from my shots, light quality has a big bearing on noise and flare. https://pictures.lytro.com/Duffdaddy/pictures/165496 https://pictures.lytro.com/Duffdaddy/pictures/171362 So I have to admit it takes some getting used to, compared to my point 'n' click. But I find taking a little longer to plan my shots instead of flippantly shooting from the hip like my Lomo makes a world of difference.
May 21, 2012 01:43 AM
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Doug Weisman

I have had my camera for about a week now, and from the first day I've found interesting ways to create usable shots.  See my images:  https://pictures.lytro.com/jaweisman#.  There is a learning curve and it takes a fair amount of thought to get the right Lytro-specific images.  You may have to work a bit more with your subjects so they too understand what you are doing.  There is certainly a deficit in low light environments, but the focus shift does work.  With any new tool there is the learning curve and the technical improvements, which over time will help us all.

May 23, 2012 08:14 AM
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Grant Hendrick

Howdy Campbell and Doug,

Thank you for sharing your links. I am enjoying learning too. FYI here is the link to what I have posted so far: http://pictures.lytro.com/gkh

The more we look at each others ideas the more we will learn.

Cheers,

Grant

May 23, 2012 10:03 AM
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Donald Bledsoe

I just ordered my Lytro today.  Now comes the wait for it to arrive.  I want to thank Grant, Doug, Campbell, Adam and others for posting some very nice shots and explaining via those shots the strengths of the Lytro.  One thing I notice about most shots with very near foreground objects is that the Lytro bokeh is very pleasing.  Whether one focuses on the near object and observes the far bokeh or focuses on the far and observes the near bokeh, the bokeh at either extreme is very pleasant.  No harshness, no double line, no doughnuts, no pentagons, very smooth and creamy.

Don, waiting for my Lytro in Lake Tahoe.

 

August 12, 2012 07:30 PM
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Grant Hendrick

Howdy Donald,

Glad you want to join the fun. Just so you know  I have started an unofficial collection of social sites a new way for those of us that want to share and learn together -- on the social media sites FB, Tw, G+ --- Lytro Views -- I hope that in addition to sharing on our own social media pages we can share tips and creativity ideas. Especially useful for unusual images would be to include meta data such as mode and focus length. 

Looking forward to your images,

Grant

August 13, 2012 07:10 AM
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Donald Bledsoe

Too cool!  My Lytro camera is on the way to me.  I am anxious to get it and start working with it.  I have lots of cameras; Leica film, Nikon film, Canon film, Canon digitals (to include everything from the original 30D to 5D), Olympus m4/3rds, Panasonics, Ricoh GXR, and Nikon digitals but nothing has excited me like the Lytro, and its possibilities in use, in a long time.  By the way, I am an old guy, 64 years of age and I love and embrace new technology.  What I miss out on, well my grandkids keep me apprised of.  We share and enjoy together.  I can't wait for my 15 year old grand daughter to use the Lytro!  She is so tech savvy, I know we will be sharing a lot together with this camera.  Times change but a grandfather's love for his grand children never will, nor will his grand children's love for him change.

Don 

August 16, 2012 10:51 PM
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Donald Bledsoe

Correction to previous post:  make that Canon D30 to 5D, not 30D to 5D.  I refer to the original D30 3.1 mp camera.  I still use mine and it works perfectly and makes great pics if I do my part.

 

Don

August 16, 2012 10:54 PM
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Grant Hendrick

Howdy Don,

I am a bit younger, but I love your attitude -- I am looking forward to seeing your images.  FYI -- on the different social media (FB, Tw G+) I have started Lytro Views -- where I hope more of us can share our images. It is not part of the company, but yes, Lytro is aware of the site. I hope we can use this to share our learning of how to use this great new technology.

Cheers,

Grant

August 16, 2012 11:15 PM
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Greg Rodgers

Interesting discussion.  I think James raised some important points and found it most interesting that several people jumped in to defend the camera.  I also found Grant's comment . . . "What is acceptable to some, is unacceptable to others. Our many happy customers are those like Steve, Grant, and David D who do not have DSLR or point and shoot expectations, and are using the Lytro to compose and shoot pictures that are simply not possible with traditional cameras." . . . EXTREMELY interesting.  As someone who does not own the camera I would probably adopt James attitude based on the performance he is apparently obtaining with this camera - no one seemed to dispute his reported results - just an attempt to convince him that it's a worthwhile product at that level of performance - I think not.  I wonder are "Steve, Grant and David D." investors in this company or do they somehow have a vested interest which is not being disclosed in this forum?  Otherwise can't understand why they feel the need to defend what appears to be a product of rather low worth.

September 06, 2012 04:08 PM
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Grant Hendrick

Howdy Greg,

From your paragraph it sounds like you do not own the camera, but it is not clear to me if you have tried the Lytro? It is always interesting to hear from those who have not tried something making comments and  passing judgement.................

I can not speak for the others but for those who have been following this developing technology it would be very clear that I am not an employee or an investor in Lytro.  For those who have followed my comments it is clear that I am a Beta Tester and I like what this technology can do. The camera can do things other cameras can not do. 

Also the sentence you attribute to me, includes my name....................................why would I use my name? 

I have meet a wide variety of people from the company and am impressed that they are a really nice group of people working to hard to develop this type of imaging even further. They have been very open about what this camera can do and been encouraging people to post their images so everyone can get an idea of what this current camera can do. It is well worth noting that they are very open about people returning cameras if they are not happy. 

I will make the point that Edwin Land's most notable contribution to photography was not based on high resolution images, and yet his company had millions of very happy camera owners. There are many needs for consumers. If the current specs are not for you, there many different cameras. 

Would I like to see how much further this technology can be developed -- yes.  Is this company very good about having demos around the country so people can try the camera -- yes. Would I like to work there -- yes -- because the people are earnest, hard working and this technology will improve. (I am not a software engineer so that won't happen, but none the less it is a great group of people).

To summarize my feelings:

This camera opens the door to new possibilities. It is not a DSLR replacement. Do I find it exciting, sturdy (I have seen multiple cameras hit concrete floors and keep working) and fun to use. For me the camera is allowing a new way to think about composition. 

Grant

 

September 06, 2012 05:00 PM
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adam gould
Lytro Staff

I can appreciate a good theoretical discussion as much as the next guy, but... why not decide for yourselves based on visual examples of precisely what folks have having so much fun with?

Check out the results and submissions to our latest living picture contest: http://contest.lytro.com/pictures (Note that while this is hosted on Facebook, you do not need a FB account to view and play with the pictures.  UPDATE: Close the window with the winning picture to see the other finalists' pictures.)

All these pictures were taken by regular everyday Lytro customers. The pictures are unedited and unaltered. Anyone with a Lytro camera and the patience and desire to learn how to take good living pictures can achieve these results.

Think these pictures are neat, fun, and something you might like to play around with? Then maybe Lytro is for you. Think they aren't? Then Lytro probably isn't for you right now... but keep your eyes on us because we've only just begun.

Adam "goolie" Gould
Lytro Support & Community Manager

September 06, 2012 05:22 PM
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Grant Hendrick

Adam,

Very well said. I too think people should look at what people are posting and determine if the camera is a good fit or not.

Cheers,

Grant

September 06, 2012 08:54 PM
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Wilson Kerby

Interesting thread.  Just got my Lytro a couple hours ago and on the fence about sending it back.  The Fb photo contest pics pull me toward keeping it, but none of my first dozen shots look like any of those, nor are they as big.  Is 5KB the biggest print all those megarays can come up with?

October 03, 2012 01:40 PM
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Thomas Bryant/ Photo Phrame Photography

Its all about how you learn to shoot with the lytro. Honestly.... I have never ever owned a camera in my life I couldn't get at least a decent shot with. 

Now I admit, I am a professional Photographer, who owns this rather mass marketed consumer camera. I will be first to acknowledge that it is not for everyone.

It is not for those expecting HD quality or a camera that will FIX user mistakes.

You HAVE to learn how to use it. You have to follow the basic rules of Photography and also the basic rules of the Lytro camera itself. 

Lytro is an incredibly intuitive camera, but you have to know its limits and its purposeful uses, and most importantly.

Practice!! Practice! Practice!

Even my first few images didn't come out looking the way I wanted until I worked with it and used Lytros extensive knowledge base to work thru my issues. 

I've only had this camera for 4 days.

Now it is an amazing camera and will fit in my professional work nicely.

Here are a few of my images... https://pictures.lytro.com/tjfbryant

October 04, 2012 08:12 AM
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Wilson Kerby

My post yesterday was premature.  Had the camera only a couple hours.  After a couple dozen more shots, where there were more focal points and more light, I began to get it.  I was expecting to use the Lytro in a more general purpose way, but am keeping it for what it can do, which is amaze.

October 04, 2012 08:34 AM
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Grant Hendrick

Howdy Wilson,

 

From my perspective as a person (and beta tester) who has been using the Lytro for many months, I am very happy to see the comments from a professional such as Thomas above. I very much agree with his points that the camera is not a replacement for other cameras, but a great addition. Thomas is spot on that the camera is both very intuitive and easy to use and at the same time allows a whole new way of thinking about composition. I often think this is much like videography where one can add the option of highlighting depth. One will learn what the camera can do well and what are the limits. For me this is a fun process. The part I like best is learning to rethink light and composition in depth more than I ever have with my DSLRs.

 Thomas is right – practice – which really means have fun thinking about photography.

 I also want to make the point that the software on this camera will evolve – the company will update the software to include All-In-Focus, Parallax Shift and 3D. These features are not public yet, but are a lot of fun to see and reflect that Lytro is determined to keep improving the technology.

 I will mention LytroViews, which is not part of Lytro, but the company is aware of my efforts, My goal is to learn and share more about using the camera. LytroViews is currently on social media (FB, Tw, G+ and hopefully more options in the future). The past month has been very difficult as our son has spent a great deal of time in hospital (including the ER last night), but I hope that we can share our ideas and images on these sites so we can all learn more. Lytro has also started a collection of images on Pinterest.

I hope you experiment more with the camera and feel free to ask those of us who are using the camera for suggestions.

 Best wishes,

 Grant

October 04, 2012 10:30 AM
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Vladislav Kuzemchik

New Lytro Desktop release made my photos looks much better! Good work guys!

October 13, 2012 01:20 AM
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Michael Gmirkin

For my part, I've been excited about this technology since the first time someone offhandedly posted it to their Facebook wall. Have been happy to speculate about it ever since and still continue to think up new ways it could POTENTIALLY be used. For instance: adding Bracketing & then on to HDR imaging.

I pre-ordered it and have been, now that the Windows app is out, experimenting with it. I can say I've gotten some mixed results with it.

There are a few I'm reasonably proud of, 'cause I think they ended up 'interesting':

https://pictures.lytro.com/mgmirkin/pictures/289613
https://pictures.lytro.com/mgmirkin/pictures/289627
https://pictures.lytro.com/mgmirkin/pictures/289646
https://pictures.lytro.com/mgmirkin/pictures/289656
https://pictures.lytro.com/mgmirkin/pictures/289707
https://pictures.lytro.com/mgmirkin/pictures/435023
https://pictures.lytro.com/mgmirkin/pictures/436183
https://pictures.lytro.com/mgmirkin/pictures/289595

And then there are some that I'm not as thrilled with... 'Cause they're either 'flat', not interesting enough, or really grainy.

https://pictures.lytro.com/mgmirkin/pictures/436172 (pretty grainy; probably due to low light / fluorescent?)
https://pictures.lytro.com/mgmirkin/pictures/436188 (grainy, not interactive; low light, too far from camera, objects too close together @ distance)

So, I won't say it's "perfect" by any stretch of the imagination. But I can see the promise. And Lytro, to their credit, made a very flexible system, insofar as they can push new features via firmware updates and desktop software updates. They've already added manual controls, orientation-correction, etc. Are in the process of rolling out perspective shift & living filters. I hoep will eventually create a self-timer and add Bracketing support. One hopes maybe they'll figure out a method to create HDR images out of Brackets of images, too? I *think* it'll be possible, maybe even easy (sort of) using the 3D image data to align multiple images. One hopes eventually for panorama functionality as well?

I'm not expecting out of the first generation perfect picture quality. I know enough about how the technology works (using an array of lenses to split up the light into smaller image, each of which is slightly different from the rest, and all of which are a resolution only a fraction of the overall sensor resolution, so the final image can't be much higher resolution than the individual images themselves; hence the grain / low res output).

But I'm impressed with the technology itself and its promise. Call me an apologist, if you must. I do acknowledge it's not yet perfect and has its flaws, some of which are correctable in this generation of hardware via firmware, some of which may have to be remedied with newer hardware down the road (bigger screen, better ergonomics, higher MegaRay resolution, etc.).

Yes, it's a litle spendy, but what new tech isn't? With the additional functions & flexibility  Ithink it's constantly becoming a better value for the money. And if they get refocusable HDR working, watch out world! For the moment I'd settle for self-timer & bracketing... But I dream big!

Anyway, I've definitely noticed more grain under low light conditions (high ISO, I think?) and/or with subjects at "infinity." Likewise less interactivity or no interactivity with most in scene at infinity. In well lit conditions, with low ISO and fast shutter speed, it seems to do quite well. Though due to teh size of the sensor and its subdivision, yes, it's still a bit low res for my tastes, from a printing / 'flat' image [JPEG] standpoint. But the interactivity & features seem to make up for it, and a few friends have already been wowed by it...

So, it is what it is and I look forward to whatever else this generation brings and moreover what future models bring to the table.

November 17, 2012 04:27 PM
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Ian Ellison
Lytro Staff

@Vladislav Thanks!

@Michael Thanks for all the thoughtful feedback. While not everything you mention is likely to happen soon, at least one of your requests is in the pipeline... stay tuned!

November 23, 2012 02:43 PM
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Vladislav Kuzemchik

@Michael about ISO. Recently, manual ISO configuration was added, I've set it to 150. It may solve problems with some photos.

November 23, 2012 07:18 PM
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Michael Gmirkin

I've played with manual settings a tiny bit but have ended up getting mixed results. Sometimes overexposed, sometimes blurry. Maybe I'm just "doing it wrong?" Still learning the ins and outs. And it seems something of a pain to actually SET the manual settings. It seems imprecise... When I try 'sliding' the value, I end up overshooting and having to back up. Seems like maybe a couple buttons would be more precise than a slider? I dunno...

November 23, 2012 09:29 PM
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Vladislav Kuzemchik

@Michael agreed about display slider. Have no idea why did they created these slider instead of using this crazy (in good way) slider that used for zoom. I mean, i understand, that it can be deep in firmware, and it was much easier to just add new UI for configuration, but many cameras uses same buttons/scrollers/etc for configuration of different parameters. It would give much better user experience.

November 23, 2012 09:52 PM
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Grant Hendrick

Howdy Vladislav and Michael

I think that for Lytro 1.0 then best way (and only real way) to add features is via software. What is good is to give them ideas for the future, when hopefully we will see another version. I like some things to be off screen and at finger control -- if I have to look at a the screen I am taking my eye of the subject. For camera 2.0 I would love a view finder with a screen that shows what ISO, SS etc are being used an easy dial or button to get what I want. 

Cheers,

Grant

November 23, 2012 10:59 PM
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Vladislav Kuzemchik

@Grant I've bought camera 3 months ago, and not ready to think of it as an old one yet. It is just too sad for me. I really hope it will be supported as longer as it possible.

November 24, 2012 06:49 AM
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Grant Hendrick

@Vladislav,

Please don't get me wrong -- I think there is certainly more that can be done with this camera and I am having a lot of fun with this camera and more to learn what it can do. I suspect that software improvements will keep coming and keeping this version fresh. On the other hand I also love to think what this technology is capable of and want to throw in my suggestions for the future. Even if a different camera comes out I will still love this version as it is very compact and easy to use!

November 24, 2012 11:00 PM
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Ian Ellison
Lytro Staff

@Vladislav & @Michael Thanks for the UI feedback regarding Manual Controls; I will definitely pass it along.  

In the meantime, here are two tips that might help when selecting settings for Manual Controls:

  • Don't hold your finger on the onscreen slider; instead, use repeated quick swiping motions. 
  • Or, try tapping the arrowheads (at either end of the slider).  It takes a little longer than the slider feature when going from one end of the scale to the other, but in general I prefer it myself due to greater precision.

http://support.lytro.com/entries/22126122-shutter-speed-manual-cont...

http://support.lytro.com/entries/22126192-iso-sensitivity-manual-co...

November 28, 2012 03:58 PM
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Grant Hendrick

All -- Just a note -- for me the swipe on the SS and ISO work the best.

Don -- I  hope your granddaughter is having fun with the camera too. Last spring I handed the camera to an 11 year old girl who very quickly figured out all the functions (this was of course before the new manual controls). So the youth will find the camera very intuitive and expect to be able to interact with their images.

Cheers,

Grant

November 28, 2012 04:49 PM
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Jon Magarifuji

A big problem is the way the Lytro has been reviewed. There's a misunderstanding or misperception that you can just shoot and focus later. Not true. You can't fix an out-of-focus shot after the fact. But what you CAN do is RE-focus later on different focus points. But you still need to compose your shots before shooting to make sure you have different re-focus points.

So there's a learning process. In the beginning, I really had to force the issue by making sure I had something very close in the foreground and something very far in the background until I could figure out the re-focusing distances. So Everyday Mode at 1x was the best setting until I got better at composing shots. Works great with macro shots. A little harder with distance shots.

As for its limitations, I'm not a pro photographer, but I use my phone camera enough to already know that cameras with limited user settings will have picture quality issues. But I also figured out how to work around those limitations enough to get pretty decent shots. The bigggest thing is you can cure a lot of ills just by having better lighting.

But those are all user issues, not camera issues.

Some of the criticisms above are valid ones, i.e., soft focus, graininess, etc. I assume that these were trade-offs. To get the new technology right now, you give up a little photo quality. But Lytro's emphasis seems to be online sharing anyway. So the picture quality isn't that bad in that context.

Or, like Manual Controls, other software updates will address those limitations. In fact, that's what I really like about the Lytro. A lot of the camera issues seem to be software, rather than hardware, issues. So, more software updates means better photos. And hopefully, I won't need to buy a new Lytro any time soon to get better pictures.

December 11, 2012 10:45 PM
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Grant Hendrick

I want to applaud Jon for his very thoughtful comments above. 

When taking pictures it is always necessary to think about composition and the subjects one wants to feature. Yes there are somethings that are still improving, but the company has demonstrated it is constantly working to improve what the camera can do -- both in terms of image quality and functionality.

Just as my first day with the camera, I am still excited about the new capabilities the Lytro brings to how one can think about creating an image. I suspect there is much more that can be done with this camera and I am looking forward to new software features. 

December 12, 2012 09:06 AM
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Greg Tokarski

Agreed on the above, but I would also second the concern about expectations.. Managing expectations is a hard job, and Lytro needs to find the balance between being honest, but at the same time not immediately discouraging the potential customer... I do not think they "got it" but I am not sure the "can" - it's one of those things that will always not work for someone.. You just got to get the most optimal balance and deal with the fallout a bit... which I think they do...

So maybe this is the best it can be, and some people will simply find it unacceptable and call it quits...

December 12, 2012 09:16 AM
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Grant Hendrick

Greg,

As usual well said and thought out. To me an important point is one mentioned by Jon. As long as potential buyers realize this camera is really great for social sharing and not for printing large sized images this seems like the proper balance to me. At home we almost never print images anymore and this seems like the trend for most people. I suspect that with time the resolution of distant subjects will improve with software updates which can be reapplied to previously processed images. I am most amazed at the macro abilities of the camera. Given the cost of macro lenses alone, I think the Lytro is in a very competitive for close-up work.

Cheers. 

December 12, 2012 10:09 AM
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Jon Magarifuji

This might help a little:

At 1x (no zoom) on the Lytro, all your focus points need to be within 4 feet because 4 feet seems to be the same as infinity. Therefore, if your near subject is already at 4 feet, you're not going to get any refocusable points. Because your near subject and your far subject are both at infinity.

It's even more pronounced when you're at full zoom. Because your entire scene will almost never have any depth because it's all at infinity. And your shot will be a little fuzzy and grainy too. That's just the nature of telephoto. Get closer and/or zoom out until your shot has some depth again.

In fact, no matter how much zoom you're using, anytime your entire scene is at the same focus distance, you won't get a re-focusable photo because you don't have any depth in your photo. So zoom in, zoom out, step forward, step back, or whatever you need to do to create some depth in your shot.

For example, James' first photo isn't refocusable because the entire scene is at infinity. The shot's OK, but it's all-in-focus. Hey, I have my own share of all-in-focus Lytro shots. I'm sure everyone else has theirs too. Because you can't just point and shoot. You have to consider whether your shot has any depth. Admittedly, that's hard to do on a 1 in. x 1 in. screen. So you have to think about the distances.

So, using James' first photo again, if you step back a few feet, then zoom in to frame the same shot, now you can have a little more distance between you and your near subject, and between your near and far subjects. In other words, you have more room to play with to create more depth (refocus points).

Also, be aware of lighting. And the direction the light is coming from. It's the same with any camera. There'll be a lot less disappointment after the fact if you pay more attention to light before you shoot.

Lastly, after you compose your shot, always zoom in until the near subject is in focus, then zoom back (or step back) a little until it's a little out-of-focus again. No blur = no refocusability. But don't get carried away. Something in your scene still needs to be in focus.

All this can be done in Everyday Mode. You should think of Creative Mode and Manual Settings as merely enhancements, not necessities, in creating a "living picture.".

December 13, 2012 10:11 PM
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Peter Lee
Light Field Explorer

Hi: I have also notice that Lytro camera will sometime randomly generate weird artifacts :

This is Dark Field image from recent construct of a PL-Zeiss-Lytro  Plenoptic Microscope Construct:

Subject is the mouth parts of House Fly in DarK Field:

https://pictures.lytro.com/pleecan/pictures/504970

 

https://pictures.lytro.com/pleecan/pictures/504971

 

They look like diagonal lines that are hashed.... out of no where these sometimes appear... must be a glitch in the algorithm.... also I have had some images corrupt when trying to refocus  on the desktop viewer in windows....

 

Anyways here is an example when the camera behaves properly:

https://pictures.lytro.com/pleecan/pictures/503964

 

PL

January 01, 2013 06:00 AM
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Peter Lee
Light Field Explorer

here is another example of excessive noise ...

https://pictures.lytro.com/pleecan/pictures/505005

 

PL

January 01, 2013 06:06 AM
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Peter Lee
Light Field Explorer

Here is another noisy pic... this is random

https://pictures.lytro.com/pleecan/pictures/505069

January 01, 2013 06:42 AM
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Peter Lee
Light Field Explorer

Here is another zig zag artifact at 50X objective:

https://pictures.lytro.com/pleecan/pictures/506141

January 01, 2013 05:17 PM
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Ian Ellison
Lytro Staff

Hi Peter, 

Glad you're experimenting with your Lytro camera, and glad you're sometimes able to get the shots you're trying for.

However, scientific usage is beyond the scope of the Lytro camera at this time ( http://support.lytro.com/entries/22158153-microscopy-will-lytro-s-c... and http://support.lytro.com/entries/20631662-i-have-an-idea-for-a-comm... ).  As such, we can't really dig into the details of issues that emerge in these contexts at this time.

January 02, 2013 12:00 PM
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Peter Lee
Light Field Explorer

Thanks for your comments  Ian!  The point is valid.  however,  I was just trying to give Lytro the heads up on problematic issues  on the camera when coupled to  microscope systems. to heed on not too heed observation data... that is up to you people.   I know the camera was not designed for this particular application but I am determined to make it  work with or  without Lytos help.  I have suceeded in building  a Plenoptic Microscope with Lytro engine.   And if researchers ask me  about Lytro  I will tell them to look elsewhere because there are better cameras out there for their application.   I have been playing with optics for more than 30yrs and do know something.....  Best Wishes to Lytro.   PL 

January 02, 2013 12:25 PM
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Ian Ellison
Lytro Staff

Thanks for following up, Peter.  If and when we go down the road of scientific use, info like yours will be invaluable.

January 02, 2013 01:31 PM
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Dave Maley

Good afternoon from Iowa.  I've been lurking for a while and decided it was time to comment.  See if my understanding is correct.  Each Lytro image is not a two dimentional square, but more like a cube.  A stack of images each taken from a different portion of the lens and each with its own focal plane and perspective. The limititation on perspective is the size of the lens. Larger lens. more perspective.  When all light rays reflected from an object are parellel, all the images are the same and no change in focus, no change in perspective. Macro photographers are gonna love it, scenery photgraphers won't care.  A single point light source won't work, like a flash but a bounce flash might.  It looks like the PC software can combine all the images in a stack and put everything in focus.  Have you considererd using the stack to average out noise, color and detail enhance and improve dynamic range? Especially if all the images are the same.  Have you considered having software that allows a user to stack several pictures into a super stack?  An example would be images of the Grand Canyon taken 1/2 a mile apart.

have fun!

 

January 18, 2013 03:06 PM
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Greg Tokarski

I like Dave's idea :) I wonder if it would be a good idea to make it a separate feature request.... 

January 18, 2013 03:15 PM
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Peter Lee
Light Field Explorer

Very perceptive Dave Maley " A single point light source won't work, like a flash but a bounce flash might. " Just came to that same conclusion a few days ago.

in practise ..... PL

January 18, 2013 03:19 PM
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Grant Hendrick

Dave,

Following up on Greg and Peter's comments. Very perceptive thinking and suggestions. I really like the idea of a super stack and putting all the layers of information to use improving d.range etc.

What I will add from empirical use of the camera is that with macro shots it is easy to get shots that have a lot of refocus and/or P-Shift. For scenery shots one really is best off to find a close subject (that adds to the composition) as well as the more distant subject. This is an area where I wonder if the super set could be used -- to combine the focus from the close images and add in a second image that was optimized for the more distant subject. One could have a setting that basically takes two images sequentially and in HDR fashion puts them back together with the focus being on focus versus exposure.

Cheers,

Grant

January 19, 2013 08:09 AM
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Dave Maley

Thanks for all the comments gentlemen and good ideas Grant.  The images could be combined outside the camera.  Adobe Photoshop already has layers.  It just needs to read the Lytro image standard and be able to manage it.  You're gonna need the home version of a Cray computer to run it though.  Wait!  Sorry, my I7 processor only has eight CPU's.  Not enough.

I see history repeating itself.  I'm 64 and had an uncle that told the story of while going to college at Cambridge was offered the chance to invest and join a company being started by one of his professors.  A Professor Land.  He didn't see any future in a camera called Polaroid.  Shouldn't this be called the Lytro Chi Camera?

Dave....

 

January 19, 2013 09:42 AM
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Grant Hendrick

Dave,

Funny you mention Ps -- I am taking a class this semester on Ps and was thinking along these very lines. I need to learn more how to pull out the layers -- I have seen comments along these lines -- not sure if there is something in the Lytro blog about this or not. We also have the i7 --- I am fine with a long render time.

Very cool bit of history with Professor Land. I just did a bit of reading on him a few months ago and put an article or two in my Snip.it -- History of Photography collection. Amazing how photography (like many things) goes in jumps of innovation. I think there is a lot more to come in light-field technology.

As to the Chi -- a bit slow here -- Chi as in the Chinese concept of energy? 

Best wishes,

Grant

January 19, 2013 10:11 AM
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Karl Simanonok

I would like to know more about the technology of this camera.  Apparently to capture a 'light field' it must essentially record a holographic interference pattern, the the software enables some of the aspects of holographic storage but not more, although more features may be added soon.  Am I more or less correct about these facts, and is there anyplace I can read advanced descriptions of the technologies used?  

 

Question Two: can you mount one of these beauties to a microscope and take pictures that you can later focus up and down through the visual field?

January 29, 2013 04:03 AM
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Dave Maley

No Carl, a better description might be insect vision.  They use a compound lens in front of a CCD device.  Each lens 'sees' about 150 pixels of information.  That is why the final image is a little soft.  Might I suggest you check here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plenoptic_camera

to help you better understand this technology.    I have not heard of any adapter that would allow this camera to fit over a microscope.  It would be a good application.  The resulting image could not be live.  It would first have to be stored and processed.

Are you Professor Simanonok?

Dave...

January 29, 2013 08:32 AM
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Grant Hendrick

Howdy Karl,

Have you looked at the link for Ren's thesis? https://www.lytro.com/renng-thesis.pdf

I will add that I have been following Lytro and beta testing for some time now and question two has been asked by many people --- I am not positive but, I think Eric Cheng has recently commented on this question. This would certainly be a very useful application. 

Cheers,

Grant

January 29, 2013 09:38 AM
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Peter Lee
Light Field Explorer

This shot proves that excessive noise and artifacts like zig zag lines is not due to vignetting effects: https://pictures.lytro.com/pleecan/pictures/537279

January 29, 2013 01:23 PM
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Pete Glastonbury

test my new camera today i am not pleased with the noise.

https://pictures.lytro.com/PeteG/pictures/663061

 

I was hoping for better depth of view and resolution.

It seems this camera is only good for Macro.

Shame really as I had high hopes for this new technology,

PeteG

June 15, 2013 05:03 PM
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Pete Glastonbury

I was hoping for better results than this

http://www.peteglastonbury.plus.com/AveburyFirstLight15June2013.jpg

 

HDR photo taken with a Pentax K-R

I will do a bit more testing before putting the Lytro camera onto eBay,

PeteG

June 15, 2013 05:11 PM
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adam gould
Lytro Staff

Pete, 

The picture you posted, a classic sunset landscape picture, is not one that Lytro excels at.  If you want to take landscape pictures with no depth (all objects at optical infinity), you would be better served using your traditional point-and-shoot or DSLR, not a Lytro.  We have been very honest and up-front about this limitation in saying that Lytro is going to be your second or third camera for shots you can't get with a traditional one.  

Perhaps you've seen the diversity and breadth of pictures we have on our gallery and those submitted for contests,  which I believe show that Lytro is not just a Macro camera (although I'll be the first to admit that's an area where we really shine).

We have a great new series of Youtube videos aimed at helping folks take better Lytro pictures, please check out the "Lytro learn" series:

http://www.youtube.com/user/lytro

 

Here's a quick overview of some things that can help immediately:

How can I take even better living pictures

 

Please don't hesitate to reach out to us if there's anything we can help out with; we're available during business hours via live chat.  

June 17, 2013 10:59 AM
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Pete Glastonbury

Adam,

I read everything I could find on the lytro before buying it and didn't find anything about it's limitations or the noise.

I have put the camera through some some more tests today and it hasn't performed as well as I hoped.

Macro photos with flowers is superb but some of things I wanted the camera to do failed badly.

I did some dark shots, we do this in astronomy to test the noise the sensor registers when you shoot with the lens cap on.

The results are very disappointing. Try it.

I also tried some astronomy photos and the result were just unusable.

I was hoping to be able to light a foreground and mid ground object at night and have the stars in the background.

On the plus side I found that you can hold an 8mm wide angle lens attachment in front of the camera and get some great super wide macro photos.

I also found an app for my iPhone which does almost the same as the lytro and I'm sure more apps will be on the way that will do better.

 

Pete

 

June 17, 2013 05:21 PM
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Grant Hendrick

Pete,

My perspective on the Lytro is that there have been a number of articles about night shooting. My feeling is that the software keeps improving and some of the noise may be reduced in the future. One thing that I have found the camera can do with night images is shoot into light. For example with my DSLR shooting into a stadium halogen lamp I can only see a white blur while with the Lytro I can see the inside of the light housing and in one image even see the bulb. So there are trade offs. Another thing I have noticed is in daylight shooting toward the sun is often generates a hazy image. With the Lytro I have less haze. I think the lfp files and algorithms provide an advantage for this type of shooting.

Phone apps are getting better all the time and so will the phone cameras, but I also think this Lytro camera as well as the underlying technology has a lot more room to grow. 

Cheers,

Grant

June 17, 2013 10:55 PM