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I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated with photography. An early pre-school photo that was one of my Dad’s favorites was of me taking a picture of him with an old box camera. I went through a series of compact cameras, mostly Kodak, while I was in school. My camera was generally nearby, and always loaded with fresh film. I was only 4 or 5 when Dad started letting me work in his darkroom. No developing, but I learned to make prints with his enlarger, learning to crop, dodge and burn.

Dad never forgave Mother for not letting him invest in Polariod. He knew about the technology before it was ever released. And yes, we had one of the first. In the mid-50’s we also had a Sawyer ViewMaster camera. Remember ViewMaster 3-D photo disks? Yep, while we had plenty of commercial disks, we made our own 3-D photos. The camera used standard 35 mm slide film, but each frame produced two pairs of photos. When I finally had my own home, I set up my own darkroom, where my favorite thing was printing photos on specially treated linen. Fun times.

Then came digital cameras. I don’t remember the resolution of my first digital, but it was rock bottom and the price astronomical. Today, I use a Kodak 8-megapixel point & shoot for most things, but as 95% of what I shoot is for the web, a new camera has been ordered and is slated for delivery next February or March. It’s the next generation of cameras.
I first read about Lytro in late July and decided to get on the waiting list for one. The concept was fascinating, and while I thought that it might end up being more than I cared to spend, it wouldn’t hurt to reserve my own. Last week, the Lytro was finally introduced and the company started accepting pre-orders. While traditional cameras have always captured just a single plane of light, the Lytro captures the entire light field. No focusing in the camera. Just point and shoot. All focusing is done via software after the fact. The lens is a constant f/2 aperture with an 8x optical zoom. Memory is fixed at either 8 GB ($399) or 16 GB ($499) and can hold 350 and 750 photos, respectively. Controls consist of a power button, shutter button, zoom slider and touch screen. Just turn it on, aim and shoot. The shape is not what you would expect. It’s a rectangular tube 1.6″ x 1.6″ x 4.41″ and weighs just 7.55 oz.

Currently, the software is Mac only, but a Windows version is in the works. Your photos can be posted to Facebook or Twitter, or email links to family and friends. I’m not going to try to explain all that I can about this camera. Go to the Lytro website and check it out for yourself. Look at their photo gallery and play with the photos there. There’s one of a fuzzy looking spider on a background of reddish-purplish ground cover. Click on the spider and as he pops into focus, you’ll see the fine web that wasn’t obvious at the other focus point. The creative possibilities are endless. Eventually, you’ll be able to view the photos in 3-D. It’s amazing! Prints? Well, you can pick a focus point, then export to jpeg for printing. You’re not going to get a huge, poster-sized print — yet — but you’ll get a decent snapshot. Most of us share prints on the web today, anyway. Oh, and you can view and refocus these on your iPhone or iPad, or on any computer with any web browser. Check it out. No, it’s not perfect, but it’s something totally new, with great potential. How many times have you taken a shot of something or someone only to find something interesting in the background that you wish you could have focused in on. It won’t happen with the Lytro. A year from now you’ll be able to go back in and zero in on a different point in the photo. The data will always be there.

And now, because it’s almost Halloween, it’s time for a new video from your MacGroup 5 — Terry, Phyllis, Jack, Chita and Calvin.


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One Response to My Next Camera – Lytro

  1. Thanks for the info on Lytro, sounds interesting.
    The Halloween video is a hoot, as always.