THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN RE-WRITTEN AND NOW LIVES AT http://www.ronmartblog.com/2015/03/lytro-illum-light-field-camera.html
March 26, 2015 Update: I made a mistake
Prior to reviewing the Lytro I had incorrect assumptions about its purpose and what it could do due to a lot of bad information I had previously read or heard. My assumption was that it was primarily a camera where you could shoot first and set the focus and aperture later. Videos like this one by Lytro helped to reaffirm that after the fact refocusing was the primary purpose. While that is certainly a feature, the primary purpose is for generating 3D images that Lytro likes to call “Living Pictures”.
When I review a product I first begin by trying to experience a product the way a typical user would do – with all the preconceptions that go along with it. This meant that I began by opening the box, reading the manual (which didn’t say much) and exploring the camera by checking out all of its features.
I’ve been developing software for over twenty years and much of the work I’ve done has been user interface related. This work has taught me that despite our best efforts, people don’t read our documentation unless we did something wrong. As a result, I’ve always challenged myself and my team to design products which are as foolproof as possible.
The reality is that for every choice you make you’ll find it is completely intuitive and awesome for 50% of the people you test it with, and the other 50% will not find it intuitive at all. As a result, the challenge becomes building something that offers options that as many people as possible will understand while not being too dumbed down for the advanced user and not being too intimidating to the beginner. It is these compromises which make or break a product, and for hardware products it is even harder as the cost of goods and packaging make even more compromises necessary to deliver a good value.
The Original Lytro was an example of a product that made too many compromises to keep the cost low and dumb down the product in order to introduce the world to light field camera technology. It was an example of too many tradeoffs that resulted in a product that I really think is a big reason why there are misconceptions about what this camera is designed do.
Fast forward to now with the introduction of the Illum, and you have a product that should probably have been the first Lytro light field camera because it offers the tools needed to build a proper 3D image – which is really what this product is about. Sadly the ability to refocus and choose the aperture after the fact caused misinformation about its purpose and I fell victim to that hype.
I’ve re-written this article to help spread that word about what this product is and isn’t, so I encourage you to CLICK HERE to read what I should have written the first time.
To be clear, this is an action I am taking on my own with no pressure or request from anyone. I pride myself on writing reviews that are honest and trustworthy, but I made a mistake I think others are likely to make based on the current misinformation about this product.
The new article can be found at http://www.ronmartblog.com/2015/03/lytro-illum-light-field-camera.html.
Where to order
Click here to learn more or order it on the B&H web site.
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