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Why does every photo have so much noise?

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?

James Mitchell

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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:

  • ** Understand the basics** of shooting good light field pictures

  • There's a fun ** set of challenges** that will also teach you compositions we do well in.

  • 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:

http://support.lytro.com/entries/22388828-perspective-shift-overview-faq

adam gould
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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?

adam gould
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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

 

Grant Hendrick
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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. 

David Drosick
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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.  

James Mitchell
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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?

Dave Hudson
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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

Grant Hendrick
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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?

James Mitchell
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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.

Steve daviss
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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 >;-)

adam gould
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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?

James Mitchell
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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

adam gould
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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.

Steve daviss
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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

Grant Hendrick
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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

Grant Hendrick
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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 

Grant Hendrick
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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

Grant Hendrick
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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.

Campbell Macduff
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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.

Doug Weisman
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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

Grant Hendrick
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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.

 

Donald Bledsoe
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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

Grant Hendrick
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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 

Donald Bledsoe
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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

Donald Bledsoe
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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

Grant Hendrick
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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.

Greg Rodgers
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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

 

Grant Hendrick