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First Generation Image Quality: Overview & FAQ

NOTE:  This overview is written for first generation Lytro camera owners; it is not intended for the LYTRO ILLUM camera.  We are working to get a LYTRO ILLUM specific image quality overview up.  We'll link to it from here when we do.  Thanks for your patience!


The Lytro camera captures light in ways no other camera has ever done.

At this stage in our evolution, right now there is a trade-off between giving the viewer full access to the light field on one hand, and optimizing image quality on the other. However, unlike with traditional pictures, the image quality in light field pictures can be enhanced after the fact with future software improvements.

In the meantime, here are some questions or comments you might have:


  • I would like more resolution or detail in the pictures.

The Lytro camera is designed for online sharing of interactive "living pictures."  We selected an optical configuration of the light field that provides the ability to dramatically change the focus in each picture after capture. There are trade-offs to this configuration, which may lead to less detail or resolution in a given picture.

Additionally, you may find that the level of detail or resolution of a picture is improved by shooting technique.  For instance, these basic tips and these expanded tips may help a great deal.


  • With a really close or distant subject, the subject is not sharp after refocusing. 

A light field camera's ability to refocus is not infinite.   In Everyday Mode (normal shooting mode), when the zoom slider is all the way to the left, the closest foreground subject can only be about 6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 cm) from the lens and still achieve clear levels of refocus. On the other hand, when using Creative Mode, with the zoom slider all the way to the left, the lens can nearly touch the closest object. Creative Mode can also let you zoom in farther when shooting distant objects.


  • Some of my pictures are still blurry.  Why?

The most likely cause is motion blur.  If the camera moves or shakes, or the subject moves quickly, then the picture will look blurry. 


  • Sometimes, the white balance/exposure/contrast/saturation in my images is not as good as I would like.  Will this get better?

We will continue to improve image quality over time, and, in most cases, these improvements can be retroactively applied to the pictures you have already captured. It might help to try out our Manual Controls, as well.


  • When I zoom in on certain pictures, I can find odd patterns.

These are artifacts related to the light field and, like other image quality enhancements, they can be improved in software over time.


  • Some of my pictures look strange when using Perspective Shift, and don't always refocus correctly depending on where I click.

There are a number of cases where depth map errors may affect your pictures.  We've made some progress on this front, and will aim to make further improvements on that over time.


  • In some pictures, the image on the camera does not match the image on my computer.

The picture analysis and processing performed via the Lytro Desktop software allows for more intensive and more accurate processing given the greater processing power of the computer. This means that the picture may be processed differently on your computer than on the camera.


  • If the quality improves in the future, can it improve the pictures I have already taken?

Yes, light field pictures store the pure raw data from the light field sensor, so improvements can be applied retroactively.