http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203753704577253382656074346.html?mod=ITP_personaljournal_0

Excerpts only:

See a video of Walt Mossberg on the Lytro camera at http://WSJ.com/PersonalTech. Find his columns and videos at http://walt.allthingsd.com.

http://vimeo.com/37336723

The consumer point-and-shoot camera has just been reinvented—not tweaked, or remodeled, but actually re-thought from top to bottom. A Silicon Valley start-up called Lytro is shipping this week a camera that looks like no other and actually lets you focus or refocus your pictures on a computer after you take them.

Not only that, but the company is promising that pictures you take with the camera today will be able to be manipulated after the fact in additional ways in coming months. For instance, you'll be able to snap into focus everything at once, regardless of depth. Or change the perspective from which the picture is seen, and switch a photo back and forth between 2-D and 3-D. That's why it calls the images "living pictures."

This $399 camera, also called Lytro, can do all this because it is a so-called light-field camera, which is based on a different technology than traditional digital cameras. In simple terms, it uses a modified sensor, plus proprietary software, to capture and process more, and different, information about the light hitting its lens than other cameras do. This includes the direction of light rays. The result is a richer picture file that software, on the camera and on a computer, can use to manipulate images in new ways. Lytro doesn't even classify its camera by the familiar megapixel measure. Instead, the company says it has a resolution of 11 megarays—in other words, it can capture 11 million light rays.

Just as the technology is very different, so is the camera itself. It looks sort of like a short, square, pocket-size telescope, with a nonprotruding 8X zoom lens on one end and a touch-screen viewfinder on the other. It has only two buttons and a zoom slider. It starts instantly and is instantly ready to take the next picture, because it doesn't need to perform autofocusing. It can be purchased in three colors at lytro.com. The base model can hold about 350 pictures. There is also a $499 model that can hold 750 pictures.
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But as in most revolutions, there are some downsides and trade-offs to the Lytro, at least at launch. For instance, it doesn't shoot video. Its "living pictures" can't be imported into standard photo software, only to its own accompanying software. And that Lytro software—necessary to store and share the photos—works only on Macs; a Windows version is due later this year. (However, Lytro pictures uploaded from the Mac software to Lytro's photo service, or to Facebook, can be viewed and refocused on Windows PCs and mobile devices via a Web browser.)