Lytro‘s “living pictures” are now taking on more life.
The company made quite a splash a few years ago when it debuted its light-field photos — images that allow viewers to change focal points and perspective after the photo has been taken. But Lytro’s cameras were slow to sell initially, and the company is now trying to get its format accepted into the general photography community.
Toward that goal, Lytro announced several weeks ago that it was going to exhibit photos from its new Illum camera on high-end photo site 500px. Today, that Lytro-dedicated section on 500px went live.
“We’re super-excited about this,” Lytro founder and executive chairman Ren Ng told VentureBeat.
“500px is a super-vibrant community of photographers of the highest quality,” he said, calling it “a great ecosystem.”
“Lytro is very interested in getting this fundamentally richer data into places where people view content.”
You do need a special viewer to see images created with Lytro technology. Last month, Lytro said that its images will be viewable online using a new, open source player based on the WebGL standard for 3D graphics. This means the images can be readily viewed on many devices, with the 500px site being the first outside presenter.
Light-field imagery can offer post-capture manipulation because the sensor captures much more data from the available light than normal cameras do, including the color, intensity, and direction of incoming light rays.
“We’re now seeing other cameras with Lytro-like tricks,” Reticle Research analyst Ross Rubin pointed out. These cameras — some in smartphones — can offer “selective focus after shooting, done with software, not optics,” he said.
“We welcome that,” Ng told us, although he pointed out that Lytro uses “fundamentally richer data, not a visual effect.”
“The visual signature of [Lytro] has been to refocus the picture,” he said, and “the cultural impact has been so great [that other companies] decided this was competitive ground.”
“[Think about] how fast this has confirmed that pictures should not be just static.”
500px is also offering a deal on the Illum for 500px members: $250 off the soon-to-be-released second-gen camera, whose list price is $1,599.
Sales are “terrific,” Ng said, “well ahead of projections.”