Lytro cams were a new take on digital Cameras. For the camera enthusiast, or the point-and-shoot, this type of camera took the concept of focusing on a specific part of the image to being able to change an image focus post production. Imagine taking a picture, without worrying what is and isn't in focus. The concept of "Shoot now, Focus later" . And an end to unfocused pics because of photobombers!
Don't let the image fool you, that thing is about the size of an smartphone. It definitely looks like the size of a lip-stick case.
Where this Camera excels: technology and design.
While the design is not a selling point for a large portion of the crowd, for those who can appreciate design aspects of a product, for a Camera, its quite pretty. Now its design makes it sorta impractical to take pictures with. You either have the 'remote control' hold, the 'Hotdog' hold, or the 'mono-scope' hold. Personally, I would love a 'gun like attachment', so when you're 'shooting pictures' you can yell out 'pew pew' and not feel so weird about it, but thats a project for another day.
Now the Technology is really unique.
If you check out the image above, notice the guy in the back is out of focus. To fix that, just click him or use the zoom in mode. While the pictures resolution isnt too amazing, to match what this cam can do, you would have to take multiple pictures OR record video while changing the aperture on your camera over a few seconds, while standing completely still.
Updated: Try the "Click & Drag for Perspective Shift", pretty awesome!
Where this device falls short.
Price! Now I would completely agree that the technology it uses makes the price almost justifiable, but at its release date price point (16 GB $500), it will scary away a lot of the 'new tech' adopters, especially when you imagine "when would I actually need this kind of camera?". The resolution & picture quality also falls sort at that price range (considering you can get a T3i [one of the best dslrs on the market] for about the same price). And you have to get over the fact that all your pictures are going to always be square.
Well, 2 years later, where has this camera been hiding? I've never seen a single person using this camera. There should be a 'lytro view'-plugin for most websites where you can choose what you want to focus on in a picture. Unfortunately this camera has fallen into the abyss of great-but-failed techs. The company has suffered from recent layoffs.
Now, if they licensed the tech to other companies, or partnered up with Google/Facebook (where I imagine most consumers images go these days) they could breath new life into the "Shoot now, Focus later" Cameras.
This product received decent amount of press, and the term 'lytro-like' (synonymous with refocusing) is an accepted term when talking about Cameras and focus. Maybe the technology is so far ahead of its time, that all the connecting tech hasnt quite caught up with the concept yet.
Quite sad really, considering the technology is just awesome.
check out an in detailed review about the device.
NOTE: 3/25/2014- Woot has some refurbished Lytros on sale. 130-170 (vs the MSRP, which is more than twice that).