I was one of the ones who pre-ordered a Lytro pretty much as soon as the product was announced last year (http://blog.lytro.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Lytro-Camera-Launch-Press-Release-10-19-11.pdf). I immediately took a bunch of shots, and immediately thought, “this is, right now, a one-trick pony”. By the way, if there are big gaps in the post, the lytro plugin seems to be a bit unreliable…
I’ve found that in the shallow focus shots I end up taking with Lytro that the “best” focus is usually obvious, a choice you would make intuitively with any other camera. And that the compositions one comes up with to show off the refocus feature look as contrived as a 1950s 3D movie. Which may not be a criticism considering that 3D has come of age after many years of being a cheesy gimmick.
But Lytro is a gadget that is so brilliant in concept that I end up forgiving the silliness of the “Living Picture” marketing. Here’s what the technology can do, and hopefully will do fairly soon: instead of shallow focus, the software can, in theory make every shot a deep focus shot. Or if you choose, make every shot a stereo pair. When that’s accomplished in the current camera form factor, it will be be a short step to scale up to a larger format that could be of use to professionals.
For more on the Lytro camera, see http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/lytro. Or, what’s really cool, Ren Ng’s dissertation on light field photography is available on the Lytro site at http://www.lytro.com/renng-thesis.pdf