$399 Lytro Light Field Camera Now Shipping, Early Users Call Out Faults

By Norman Chan

Poor low-light performance, long shutter times, and a terrible viewfinders are just a few of the problems first reviewers have noted.

The much buzzed about Lytro Light Field camera is now shipping to early adopters who pre-ordered it, and those who dropped up to $500 for this supposedly ground-breaking device may be disappointed by the results. Early reviewers acknowledge that the light field technology works--you can refocus your photos after taking them, either on the camera itself or on the included desktop software. The problem, it seems, is the quality of the photos themselves. Robert Scoble sums it up with this list of issues.

1. Low light sensitivity sucks on the Lytro.
2. Sharpness and printability sucks on the Lytro.
3. Portability sucks on the Lytro.
4. Color saturation and quality isn't up to par with even cell phone cameras.
5. Slow shutter speeds (fastest is 1/250th of a second) means you gotta work to make sure you don't get blurry photos due to camera motion.
6. Processing images takes time and means picking focus point.

In addition, The Verge's David Pierce calls out a few other shortcomings that worry me. The 1.5" viewfinder only has a resolution of 128x128 pixels and has awful viewing angles--the image preview looks completely washed out when you tilt the camera by just a few degrees. And while the camera doesn't save images in traditional file formats, the biggest image you can export from the desktop software is a 1080x1080 pixel file. We're still going to buy one to test out, but it seems like the Lytro is more of an expensive tech demo than a replacement for any of your existing cameras. Bummer.