Toying around with my first generation Lytro at PHPSC15

A while ago I bought a first generation Lytro camera because I thought the concept is awesome, and to try it out I brought it with me on my visit to PHP South Coast 2015! To be honest I was a bit disappointed with the results, but since so many people there were interested in the little device, I decided to share the results anyway.

Huh? Lytro?

Lytro makes so called 'light field cameras', and the idea is that light from all kinds of different angles is being captured instead of just from one direction. This means that you can make pictures like you normally would, and afterwards you can adjust the point of focus or even view the image in 3D! I really like this concept and I do believe that it could be the next big thing when it comes to photography. So I had to have one! I mean come on, I am a geek, I simply must own one :-)

First pictures in my backyard

So I purchased a first generation Lytro, which is the original camera and the cheapest one they offer. Sure it's cool technology, but I'm not ready to spend $1000 on it yet :-) As soon as the camera came in I started taking some random pictures in my backyard, and I quite liked the results that I got:

(You can click anywhere in the picture to change focus, or move your mouse around the picture to change the perspective)

Flowers? Yes! Conferencing? Not so much...

There are certain rules that you can apply to make the effect more dramatic. With the more expensive models some of these rules might be less relevant, but these are the things that I found with my first generation Lytro:

  • You want to have a lot of depth in the picture, so there needs to be something in the foreground and something all the way in the back. Otherwise, the picture will look pretty much just like any other picture you would take.
  • Close-ups help. The lens itself is only about 3cm across so that's about the with of your view point when it comes to making the pictures 3D. If you take a picture from something thats 15 meters away, moving 3cms to the left or right really doesn't mean much difference for the image.
  • There needs to be a lot of light! Like with every camera, pictures taken outside are very clear, but as soon as you're taking pictures inside the shutter time goes up meaning more chance of motion blurs, plus there will be dramatically more noise in your pictures. Especially this point is something that I expect to be better with the more expensive Lytro models.

So as it turns out, the camera looks really well if you're taking close-up pictures of flowers in your garden on a sunny day, but not that much if you're inside in a conference center, hotel or restaurant.

PHP South Coast

So yeah, maybe it's not the most suitable tool for taking conference pictures, and I found the results to be somewhat disappointing. At least I've learned where to use my Lytro - and more importantly, where not. Anyway, since so many people at the conference where interested in the little toy I decided to publish some of the pictures anyway. Notice that most pictures are taken either in the speakers hotel, at the speakers dinner or at the social. In the conference rooms itself there was simply not enough light to get a decent picture at all :-)


(Same controls as the flower images, but use the arrows to move to the next/previous picture)