Lytro has just announced a software update that expands upon the multidimensional elements of the little light-field point-and-shoot. The Lytro Desktop software will get two new features, dubbed Perspective Shift and Living Filters, both of which expand upon the device’s focus-shifting capabilities. Perspective Shift lets you change the photo’s center of perspective, while Living Filters are interactive image effects that range from cool to kooky. We had a chance to get an early look at these features, so join us after the break for our impressions and video of them in action.
Essentially a fine-tuned version of the parallax-based 3D effect we saw in Hong Kong, Perspective Shift lets you change the POV of the shot after it’s taken, thus allowing the entirety of the photo to be in focus — a benefit in and of itself. Viewers can then click-and-drag the photo in any direction to get a freaky, yet cool three-dimensional experience — we imagine this might be what the world looks like after one too many shots of tequila. To see if your friends agree, you can share the images to Facebook or Twitter from the Lytro website so they can get in on the interactive magic as well; check it out yourself in the demo below.
Perspective Shift will be available for any previously taken Lytro snapshots, but not all photos are suited for the effect. Pictures of flat scenes or photos where the background isn’t as prominent might not work, as they’re poor candidates for discerning depth. Still, the Lytro software will try its hardest to make it work, and you might get a few surprising results despite subpar photo-taking skills. Perhaps most intriguing is the way Perspective Shift will work on an accelerometer-equipped device such as the iPad. Take a peek at our interview with Lytro’s director of photography Eric Cheng below and you’ll see him demonstrate the shifting of the image just by tilting the tablet around (note that you’ll have to tap and drag the image to get it started).
As for Living Filters, think of them as your usual photo filters, but on steroids. Instead of clicking to focus, you can click to filter certain parts of a photo with one of nine different effects: Carnival, Crayon, Glass, Line Art, Mosaic, Blur+, Pop, Film Noir and 8-Track. Below is Lytro’s demo of Living Filters, and you can get full descriptions of each filter in the press release at the end of this post.
We asked Cheng if future updates could have users fine-tune the filter selection even further à la Photoshop’s clone tool, and while that’s not outside the realm of possibility, he suggested that it might depend on third-party software makers like Adobe getting in on the action. He said that while Lytro could and would develop features like these on their own, the company would welcome a robust third-party ecosystem as well. According to Cheng, the problem, it seems, lies in educating the industry on the complexity of light-field photography, and how to tailor software to address its specific needs. For now, Lytro’s making all their own software, but that might change depending on outside interest.
Both Perspective Shift and Living Filters are bundled in a free Lytro Desktop software update that is slated to arrive starting December 4th.