“Digital cameras have consistently and dramatically improved… but those changes have been incremental compared with the leap taken in Lytro’s light-field camera.”-Popular Science, 2011 Innovation of the Year
Since this is one innovative camera, you are probably like me and wondering what’s so special? The simple answer is light field. Unlike a conventional camera that captures a single plane of light, the Lytro camera captures the entire light field, which is all the light traveling in every direction in every point in space. By instantly capturing complete light field data, the Lytro gives you capabilities you’ve never had in a regular camera.
Since you capture the color, intensity, and direction of all the light, you can experience the first major light field capability – focusing after the fact. You can refocus your pictures at anytime, after the fact. And focusing after the fact, means no auto-focus motor. No auto-focus motor means no shutter delay. So, capture the moment you meant to capture not the one a shutter-delayed camera captured for you.
In this case, seeing it is probably easier to understand than reading about it. On the example below, click around on the photo and you can see the photo refocus itself- this is the power of Lytro. Here are some additional examples on the Lytro site.
Video: Engadget Review of Lytro