Today the Lytro Light Field Camera is receiving a firmware update that unlocks manual controls such as ISO sensitivity and shutter speed.
But just in case you haven’t heard of it yet, the Lytro is a revolutionary device. Instead of capturing one moment, one angle, and one set of light, you capture everything within frame, and are able to change the focus of the image after the fact.
But there are two major complaints with this new technology: one is that the images taken aren’t that high quality (currently just 1080×1080) and that more serious photographers don’t have any manual controls over the device.
See, the Lytro is a bit like a Christmas present to a photographer. There are a whole new set of rules, an entirely new world of photography to explore with this technology, and changing focus is only the beginning. But to make the Lytro accessible to everyone, from a pro to a novice, the original implementation excluded any manual controls, like ISO or Shutter Speed.
With the firmware update, which you can access by plugging in your Lytro and clicking “yes” to the prompt, users will now have full control over ISO sensitivity and shutter speed. Since these settings affect one another, the Lytro will automatically set the one the user doesn’t change.
For instance, if you increase ISO sensitivity, the Lytro will automatically decrease shutter speed, and vice versa. However, photogs have the option to change both, and the Lytro will allow for it.
The manual controls are accessed through a drop-down table within the user interface, and adjusted entirely with touch controls. Along with ISO sensitivity and shutter speed, the update will also unlock auto exposure lock and the neutral density filter, which is displayed in a little ND icon above ISO and Shutter dials.
However, these unlocked controls don’t necessarily mean there will be new modes besides the already-available Everyday and Creative modes. Lytro still wants to keep it simple for the noob photographers. This also means that users will have to enable manual controls in the settings, as the company knows that only a subset of owners will want to use manual controls.
All in all, this is meant to allow for better low-light performance and the ability to take high-speed shots, which proved to be the case in my testing.
Note: Feel free to click around on these pictures. You’ll adjust the focus.
Along with the new controls, Lytro is also announcing new colors, and some new accessories. Target will have an exclusive Moxi pink model, which comes with 8GB of internal storage. This is a part of Lytro’s recent retail expansion to Target, Amazon, Best Buy, and select CityTarget locations. But the company is keeping the new Seaglass green model (also 8GB) to itself as a Lytro.com holiday exclusive.
In terms of accessories, you’ll find a camera sleeve for $29.95 and a travel case, complete with an accessories wallet and magnetic folding cover, for $59.95.
In short, Lytro is developing a new type of camera that dramatically changes photography for the first time since the 1800s. Rather than just capturing one plane of light, it captures the entire light field around a picture, all in one shot taken on a single device. A light field includes every beam of light in every direction at every point in time. Experimentation in this field started in the mid-1990s at Stanford with 100 cameras in one room....