Photography / News

Unveiled: Lytro Illum Light Field Digital Camera


Lytro has made the next step in the evolution of light field photography, with the announcement of its new Illum Light Field Digital Camera. The first, most notable difference between the Illum and the previous Lytro camera is that the Illum looks and handles like a traditional camera, complete with a chassis with a large handgrip, tubular lens barrel, hot-shoe mount and a 4" tilt-touch LCD monitor. As opposed to the block-like scope design of the first-generation light field cameras, this new form factor will do a lot to pique the interest of many photographers; however, it’s the optical and performance improvements of the Illum that may bring these incredible cameras out of the novelty basket and into the hands of serious image-capture enthusiasts.

The CMOS sensor on the Illum captures 40 megarays, as opposed to the previous model’s 11 megarays, improving the resolution, contrast, and color accuracy of the final image. The light field sensor itself, with its micro lens array, records the color, intensity, and direction of light and utilizes the integrated Snapdragon 801 image processor along with Lytro’s proprietary software to create “living pictures” in which the focus point, depth of field, and perspective can be continuously adjusted after the image has been shot. The light field image should not be considered in the terms used for “traditional” digital still images and, certainly, printing on paper is not a primary part of its project. However, for the sake of convenient comparison, a converted 2D Illum image is approximately 4MP.

In addition to the megaray increase, the new Lytro provides better control over where the focus is placed, with smoother transitions and advanced 3D viewing potential. Focus control is achievable on the camera’s LCD touch monitor, as well as on your computer or iOS mobile device when using the applicable software. Once images are uploaded to the Lytro web gallery with a special plug-in, they can also be manipulated by other people. Once the focus has been adjusted, images can be sent to Lightroom, Photoshop, or Apple’s Aperture for further image manipulation.

With the Lytro Mobile App and the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi, images can be sent wirelessly to the Lytro web gallery. Lytro Mobile also lets you share living pictures to Twitter or Facebook via your iOS smart device, or save them as animated GIFs to send to your friends and family.

"In addition to the megaray increase, the new Lytro provides better control over where the focus is placed, with smoother transitions and advanced 3D viewing potential."

The aspects of the Illum, which clearly improve upon the first-generation Lytro, are what you might call the “camera” elements. For starters, the lens offers 8x zoom with the 35mm focal length equivalence of 30-250mm and a constant f/2.0 maximum aperture. The Illum provides a focusing range from 0mm to infinity, literally enabling focus on a subject touching the lens. And with an aluminum lens barrel with soft rubber zoom and focusing rings, both autofocus and manual focus capabilities are supported. Although the focus is adjusted after the shot is taken, the depth-of-field range is important to realize so as to be within an adjustable range. The Lytro Button located next to the shutter release provides a color-coded overlay of the depth of field, making it easy to see in real time the “re-focusable range.”

The Illum features Program, ISO Priority, Shutter Priority, and manual exposure control, and its focal plane shutter with 1/4000-second maximum shutter speed is effective for shooting sports and other fast-moving subjects. Single and continuous shooting modes are supported, as is a timer. In addition, it is compatible with a cable shutter release and provides a 1/4"-20 tripod socket. A manual and Lytro-TTL enabled hot-shoe mount with center pin sync is featured on the camera’s top plate.

Like its minimalist design, the camera’s physical controls are few. In addition to the shutter release and “Lytro” button, there is a command dial, two adjustable customizable buttons, and AE/AF lock buttons. The rest of the camera’s adjustments are made on the 4" rear back-lit LCD screen. With dual-hinge tilting, it can be maneuvered down 10° or up 90° for odd-angle shooting. Live view composition and playback with post-capture focus adjustment are provided by the LCD, as is a very intuitive touch-and-swipe menu navigation control. The camera body itself is designed with a sleek, angled pitch, so even when the LCD is flat against the camera it is still visible when shooting at waist level.

Lytro Illum Features

A micro USB 3.0 port and SD card slot are provided on the camera’s side compartment and it’s powered by a removable rechargeable lithium-ion battery. As mentioned, the form factor is particularly impressive with a simplified, stylish body made from aluminum and magnesium alloys with a silicone rubber outer layer and large comfortable grip.

As Lytro’s second-generation light field camera, the Illum has taken serious strides to be favored by those photographers who can utilize its improved feature set to create adjustable focus and perspective images that will further elevate and improve this remarkable, still new, imaging technology.

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I think it is important to understand the pros of this relatively new technology, rather than compare it to traditional camera technology.  The end result isn't intended to be the same as a standard camera.  It is a focus-controllable image.  I work in A/V for a virtual school provider, and this camera would prove most useful in the classroom.  Imagine a scenario where you are teaching through imagery, and being able to drive a student's perspective through touch-controllable depth of field.  If I want a student to focus on a particular portion of an image, done.  A different portion, done.  This is a most-welcomed advancement in image capture, far from novelty.   It is a shift in the way that we should think as education photographers.

Apparently Mr Harris does not understand the concept of "perspective". It is not physically (as in physics) possible to change perspective in an optical system without moving the optics to a new location. Shifting the field of view by moving the cropped area around in the image is not changing perspective. This is the same reason that zoom lenses do not change perspective when zooming; they merely change the field of view. Anyone change change the field of view of any image in post just as this camera does.

how to match with megapixel calculation .please

The export resolution size for images captured by this camera are 4mp roughly (2450x1634) in size.

Can you tell me a price?

We are currently accepting orders on the camera on our website.  Click here to view the link.  There you will see the price, product info and  you can also see the various shipping options and theirs costs also. 

Hi Dude,

Check this out.

You can adjust the focus of the photo after you take the photo.

Does this mean no more out of focus images.

Yes, with the proper use of the camera and post production software it can mean that for many users.  Focus control is achievable on the camera’s LCD touch monitor, as well as on your computer or iOS mobile device when using the applicable software. Once images are uploaded to the Lytro web gallery with a special plug-in, they can also be manipulated by other people. Once the focus has been adjusted, images can be sent to Lightroom, Photoshop, or Apple’s Aperture for further image manipulation.

I think it's a mistake to compare this new technology with todays state-of-the-art digital cameras. True, a side by side comparison of two dimesional prints will make this camera seem inadequate. Today.

HOWEVER... to ignore this new technology for what it is, rather than how it compares to what we are used to, is also a mistake. There are so many areas where this technology will excel in providing this new type of imaging data, that the possibilities are unlimited. Think medical imaging. Space photography. Biological uses. Topography....and eventually, it will make a dent in the traditional comsumer/pro marketplace as well. Give it time.

As an analogy, when the first electric cars and hybrids first started in mass production, by comparison to traditional internal combustion powered cars, they were scoffed at. Slow and inpractical. As the technology has advanced - so has acceptance. A Prius will not carry 6 people and climb mountain passes as quickly as a large SUV, but it's not designed to. Different market, different purpose. But the underlying technology keeps evolving and is slowly capturing more of the marketplace.

Think different. Embrace change. Acknowledge that nothing stays the same forever and that innovation is a good thing. Very good. Go Lytro!

/// And in regard to the comment previously posted regarded teaching photography and questioning the use of the Lytro to those students unable to focus or expose properly, I say no, that the only logical answer is to "teach" them the proper basic operation of a camera with an understanding of what does what, and why. I give private photography lessons and every single person who has worked with me leaves after one session understanding the basics of how a camera works, exposure, metering and focusing operations. That basic understanding creates a solid foundation for continuing their trek on the "photographic learning curve".


I do think it is interesting to be on the vanguard of new technology and that is what I was wondering about. I have taught photography to all ages, from 10 to 76, for more than a decade and was just wondering if this would be another tool for the toolbox. In my adult classes, the students choose to be there. In my classes here at school, some of the students do not choose to be here and are really not that interested in photography (most are, just not all). I am able to instruct the students who want to learn, but just thought a camera such as this might help teach students who were not that in to photography learn without them even knowing they were learning (while still getting usable shots for the yearbook). It was just a thought; I think a thought on the vanguard of change. Take care. I think I will hold off on this for awhile based on everyone's input. 


Hi VP,

I'm fortunate in that those I instruct really want to learn so I don't need to motivate and coerce. But given your scenario, I agree with you in that whatever would get their fire lit - should be considered. 



Os avanços técnicos parecem ser formidáveis, mas o desing e que mais chamam a atençào.

This is still a novelty camera unfortunately.
Unable to do much for a serious photographer, this expensive toy is missing critial fetures and internal design elements to really be taken seriously by the masses. Not being able to print ultra high quality images in an age where a prosumer camera can easily print a 20x30" print without grain .. is just a step backwards.

Id love to test and play with one of these cameras, but for the new price? Id rather buy a new lens for my DSLR and be decisive about the DOF I want in each of my original pictures.

I teach photography, yearbook and newspaper to middle school students. I have a hard time getting some students to shoot photos in proper focus and/or to understand how our current cameras work. I thought this camera would be ideal for those students who struggle with that, especially if my main point at the time is composition. Jordan Michael, despite being a "novelty camera," which I believe is probably accurate, do you think this camera would serve a useful purpose for my students that struggle with focus and/or use of more advanced cameras? Would it be a good tool to use for compositional instruction with those students?

My personal opinion is that focus is a basic and critical part of composition and you really can't separate the two....especially when shooting for a newspaper or yearbook. Saying that poor focus in a composition is okay is like saying that it's acceptable to have 2+2+5 on a math test!  I know that this camera can possibly "fix" that but as stated before, it is still a fairly expensive, not ready for prime time item that the kids probably won't have access to in the future.  Just my two cents worth!

Thanks, Tom. I appreciate your input and think I agree with you. This camera has intrigued me ever since I read about the original one, and this is probably more a case of me just trying to find a reason to justify a new toy. Thank you for bringing me back to my senses. I could get two more DSLRs for that price and that will enhance instruction more!

I don’t feel this would be useful as a tool to teach your students how to achieve focus with standard cameras.  The point of this camera is not that one can be out of focus and still salvage a useable image, but rather open up the doorway to new ways of looking at and capturing images. 

Lytro intends for the images captured with their images to be displayed online on their gallery for users to “play with” (i.e. select what they want to focus on in the image to a point where it pleases them). In such the image is a living image, and can be whatever the viewer wants it to be for them.  Being able to selectively focus on an area and save it to manipulate and print in post is a benefit in a sense. 

The new form factor of the camera does make it much more approachable for what we think of as standard types of photo work, but I would not bring this into an entry-level type photo class and begin to explain to them the difference in this camera and a regular camera until they have mastered a regular manual operation camera.

Further I feel being able to master manual focus with today’s standard SLR lenses is something worth mastering should your students wish to go forwards in the future as photographers.  Some things can be left for post production (white balance, exposure compensation etc) however composition and focus are (in my own opinion) something that should be achieved at the point of exposure.

Thank you for your information. I am sorry I did not see this earlier, but I do think this would be an interesting camera to play with for a day or two, but not as useful for instruction. Take care.

John VanPelt