Lytro's "Living Pictures" Are Officially Dead

(Lytro Living Picture with adjustable focus AFTER image is taken. Photo by LYTRO)

In 2012 Ren Ng set out to change the way you take pictures by releasing his original Lytro Cameras.

lytro original cameras.jpg
They were available in either 8GB or 16GB and offered the promise of always getting the image that you want by not having to focus. Its concept was revolutionary. According to VERGE:

"Lytro's cameras worked thanks to something called light field photography,
where individual rays of light are captured along with data that describe where
they came from in 3D space. This allowed Lytro to build software (on the desktop,
on the web, and on the cameras themselves) that used all this information in novel
ways, like changing the focal point of an image.

Unfortunately, the company's consumer cameras were never very good. The
original -- a lipstick tube of a camera -- was more or less just a proof of
concept. And while the Illum occasionally wowed, the process of shooting
(and especially editing) living pictures was too much of a chore to ever justify
its $1,500 price tag."

lytro illum.jpg

The camera's main failure was their price and the advent of smartphones from Samsung and Apple that allowed you to get a soft background on pictures and lock and hold focus on certain areas. Yes, you're not doing it after the fact, but all that extra work re-framing and focusing your images isn't for everyone. It would be great for security cameras or wedding photographers. They could aim one at a whole row of people and let it fire off dozens of photos and then push in and select who they wanted to focus on afterward. But that's ideally, Lytro's cameras are never really any good.

The company had a website dedicated to "living pictures" where Lytro owners could log in and play with the focus of 3D of theirs or other peoples pictures. That's now dead too. In doing so all hosted Lytro photos online by the company are now gone forever. Living pictures still work in Lytro's desktop app, but you can now no longer share the photo with someone else who can change the focus or alter it, users will now have to export them as .mov, .gif, or static JPGs.

Despite its setbacks in the consumer world, Lytro is thriving, by finding a second like in professional cinemas and Virtual Reality.

Source: The Verge