Lytro Review: Bigfoot beware, this thing actually works.

The potential for "focus-later" photography is very exciting - Photoshop can only go so far to correct unintentionally blurry shots, and the idea of letting anyone re-focus your image after-the-fact opens up a new door to get spatially creative. So, when my 8GB Lytro finally arrived, i was jumping at the bit to take it up a mountain to see how it performed. Here's what i learned... Focus: Pretty easy.  Lytro, much like an iPhone, lets you tap to focus on the view screen. Yep, there is some focusing involved, but let's call it "weighted focus." You tap to tell it where you want most of the focus to be, and it handles the rest. It's certainly not precise in any way, but it's pretty straight-forward to use without having to read the manual.

Macro: Impressive.  

Getting up close is not a problem, and the depth of field is super shallow. Sweet. Macro seems to provide the better example for the "focus-later" feature.

Image control: Limited.

Lytro doesn't have shutter or aperture control. It seems to rely on a best guess depending on lighting conditions, which is awesome for some, but limiting for serious photographers.

Zoom: Awesome, but hard to find / use.

Lytro has one heck of a range, from 45mm all the way in to 300mm, or 8x optical, which lets you get in real close without actually being close. This works really well when you're trying not to scare deer. The act of physically zooming, however, is slow, taking multiple swipes of the finger across the top of the viewfinder. Not so great when you need to zoom in quick before the deer runs off. Note: I had to read the manual to figure out how to zoom, only after overhearing someone say it had a zoom feature.

Low-light performance: Not so much. 

Even with it's F2.0 aperture, the photos are pretty noisy in low-light conditions. The ISO automatically adjusts for you, as expected. The photo above is taken at ISO 3200.

Resolution: Sooo small... 

This puppy outputs photos at 1080x1080, or about 1.2 megapixels. Quality-wise they're not to sharp either, but I wasn't expecting much from a camera defining a whole new category of consumer photography. I'm sure it'll improve with the next version.

View screen: Low resolution, super hard to see in daylight.

Oh dear, this thing's hard to see outside. It's like trying to take photos with first generation iPod Nano, and that's probably generous. After a couple hours of use, switching back to the iPhone's retina display was shockingly refreshing, like jumping into a cold pool after the hot tub.

In short... Cool new toy! It's pretty, simple to use, easy to hold, the technology works, and it's easy to share. If you're looking for quality, wait for the next verison. I want this on my iPhone.