Illum camera creates interactive photographs that
users can re-focus after shooting

Illum camera by Lytro

A new camera from American company Lytro will allow users to take pictures and adjust the focus after the image has been taken using a technique called light field photography.

Based on a concept first proposed in the early 1900s, the Illum camera uses thousands of micro-lenses with mirrors to capture a wide spectrum of light across four dimensions, as well as the direction of that light.

Lytro claims it is the first company to have developed a practical application for this light field technology. The Illum is the company's second model to use it, and features a unique lens array that has eight times optical zoom and a constant aperture that allows the camera to capture images in low light.

Illum camera by Lytro

The micro-lens system replaces the single lens and mirror construction of a traditional camera that only records the colour and intensity of light. This allows the camera to construct a digital image with multiple dimensions, meaning the perspective, focus and tilt can be manipulated after the picture is taken.

An image taken using an iteration of Lytro's "light field' technology, which allows the focus to be changed by the viewer.

These edits can be made in-camera or on the desktop using bespoke software with click-and-drag functionality.

On a compatible screen, the images can also be viewed in 3D thanks to the depth of field built in to each image.

Illum camera by Lytro

"By combining a novel hardware array with tremendous computational horsepower, this camera opens up unprecedented possibilities to push the boundaries of creativity beyond the limits inherent in digital or film photography," said Lytro CEO Jason Rosenthal.

Illum camera by Lytro

On the back is a four-inch touch screen on a hinge that can be tilted. Built-in editing software assists the user by highlighting which objects are within the camera's refocus-able range.

Powering the Illum is a quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU processor – the unit that is found inside the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 smartphones.

Illum camera by Lytro

In Lytro's first camera, unveiled in 2012, each image taken was 16MB in size, and the device was a long, narrow square tube. In the latest version, the camera more closely resembles traditional SLRs, and a larger sensor has been added, creating images four times the size of the original.

The camera uses standard SD cards, as well as a hot shoe that allows the attachment of a flash.

Illum camera by Lytro

"With Lytro Illum, creative pioneers - ranging from artistic amateurs to experienced professionals - will tap into a new wave of graphical storytelling," said Rosenthal, who envisages a future scenario in which viewers of photographs can interact with them and change them.

Illum camera by Lytro

The Illum is due to go on sale in the UK in September 2014.

  • godzilla

    Not seeing much merit in terms of interactivity at the moment. Why would people invest a few seconds of their increasingly short attention spans on refocusing a low-res photo posted somewhere on the web?

    On the other hand, this will get very exciting when such camera be able to output a 1000MP image. Take one shot of a cityscape, and then extract virtually infinite amount of photos.

  • Dan

    Image quality looks rubbish, so little more than a gimmick.

  • geta brian

    A sad example of an amazing technology that the general public just doesn’t understand. This camera can distinguish between foreground and background and all the planes in between. It knows how far away the objects are from the camera. No more meticulous masking a photo by hand. Improve the image quality a bit and make it a moving image camera and it is bye-bye green-screen. Just film wherever you want and remove the background automatically. And so on… Endless possibilities.

  • Rick

    This technology marks the death of skilled photographers. Take one random image and make it amazing after the event.

    I think as this technology is developed, we’ll see a decline in skilled photography and instead be saturated by everyday button bashers.

    • rickrolled

      Did you even take the time to read and understand what the technology behind this camera is? I think Lytro has an amazing technology but a bad marketing and placement of the product, that manages to address the wrong people.

    • poser

      What? You define a good photographer by being able to focus correctly? I think that speaks for itself.

    • )eroen

      A skilled photographer controls composition, light and timing, can work with a client’s brief and can tell a story with a photograph. This camera still won’t do that for you (but will assist both skilled professionals and you, once a better image size can be achieved).

  • Garo Ungaro

    It enhances more of the creativity of a skill in a photographer. Anything new is a challenge until you master its positives and incorporate it into your existing system.