Finally someone started making the “flying camera that follows you” that I invented 10 years ago.
I bought one but it won’t ship until February 2016.
I’ll be interested to see more of the cam in actual action and testing but so far most searches turn up videos of girls name Lily singing songs I never heard of, dogs named Lily with GoPro’s strapped to them, and various less-wholesome cam related activity.
Here’s the “how it works” page on Lytro’s website. If you want to experiment with the technology, try their one-click photo gallery. Just one question: As neat as this is, who’s going to shell out several hundred bucks for a standalone flex-focus camera? I remember dropping $500 in 2002 on a Canon Powershot with 4 megapixel resolution. Fast-forward nine years and I get a better image than that from my iPhone, with plenty of zoom features, filters, etc, available via apps in the iTunes store. Unless I’m a semi-serious photographer, why would I spend extra money on a separate camera that I have to lug around? And if I am a semi-serious photographer, why would I “cheat” by using after-the-fact focus instead of challenging myself to take the perfect shot in real time? There will be a market for this camera, I’m just … not sure who it’ll be.
They’ve got two obvious business strategies going forward, I think, and neither relies on semi-serious photogs. One: Miniaturize the technology to the point where it’s cell-phone ready and then sell it to Apple or Google or whoever. Having a feature like this in the iPhone to let you sharpen up shoddy pics would be lovely. Two: Surveillance. Isn’t that the most obvious application for this? How many times have you watched a true-crime show where the perp walks by a gas-station camera 25 feet away and the best they can do to get a description of him is magnify his face until it’s a pixelated blotch? Universal focus would be a very tasty treat for security agencies. There’s certainly a market for it. Chop chop, Lytro!