With all the hype surrounding the new Lytro light-field camera, you'd think they completely reinvented photography. Some might want to argue that they did. We wouldn't go that far, but we can say that it's a major change to the way images are captured.
For those unfamiliar with the light-field (aka plenoptic) concept, here's a very simplified explanation. By placing a specialized array of micro lenses on top of anotherwise typical image sensor, the Lytro can capture a scene from multiple perspectives. Later, you can go back and change where themain focus point is placed. Eventually, you'll also be able to change the amount ofthe scene that is in focus (aka the depth of field) and create a 3D image from a single capture.
Like anything, the technology also has some downsides. The main drawback is that the pixel count of the final image is only a fraction of what we've come to expect out of more traditional cameras. In the case of Lytro's current product, you'll get images that are 1080x1080- pixels-- a little over 1MP. It won't make for a very impressive print, but it's fine for posting online.
Lytro makes sharing fairly simple. When you plug the camera into your computer for the first time, the computer will prompt you to install the Lytro software. So far, the software only works on MacOS version 10.6.6 or higher, though Lytro plans to release a windows version sometime this year. Once the software is installed, any new images will be downloaded the next time you connect the camera to your computer. There is no card slot, so you're stuck with the 8GB ($399) or 16GB ($499) that's built into the camera. However, at 16MB per picture, you can fit a reasonable amount in the memory. According to Lytro, the 16GB can hold up to 750 pictures, while the 8GB should store up to 350 pictures.
The camera has an 8X optical zoom lens in it with a constant maximum aperture of f/2. The company hasn't disclosed what the equivalent focal lengths are for the lens, though in our field testing so far, we've seen that it's a convenient range for everyday shooting and provides a longer zoom than we would've expected. The camera's close focusing capabilities are quite impressive. You can practically rest the camera on the subject at an angle and get a usable shot and then refocus to different parts of that super-macro shot.