Lytro light-field cameras headed to Amazon, Best Buy, Target

Lytro has cut deals with Target, Best Buy and Amazon to sell its innovative light-field cameras online starting Oct. 9, a move that will make it easier for customers to get their hands on the company's shoot-now-focus-later devices.

Lytro also announced Tuesday that Target will be selling the unit in November in its brick-and-mortar stores in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Westwood, a suburb of Los Angeles.

The company will be expanding its international presence, too. In Canada, Lytro cameras will be sold online starting Oct. 9 by Future Shop. The next day, a number of unspecified Australian retailers will start to offer the device. Later in the month, it will start selling in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Lytro light-field camera created a buzz storm when it was announced last year. The unit, with its rectangular design, looks more like a slide viewer than a camera. It allows the focus of a photo to be set after the image is captured by clicking anywhere on the picture.

Two different focus points from a Lytro image.

In conventional photography, Lytro’s effects can be created by manually selecting the focus point and depth-of-field of an image. That's not something casual shutterbugs are inclined to do. The Lytro camera captures a number of focus points while an image is being snapped, allowing viewers to adjust and readjust the camera's "live images" long after they've been shot.

Light field allows the camera to capture much more information about a scene than can be done by a conventional digital camera. Traditional digital photos are created from a description of the sum total of light rays striking each point in an image. Light field captures the color, intensity and direction of all the rays of light flowing into the camera.

While Lytro claims it will revolutionize digital photography as we know it, more work may be needed to make the company's first-generation camera a mainstream hit. "Lytro's light-field camera is standing on the precipice of truly great things, but it's not ready to make that leap in its current form," wrote PCWorld's photography editor Tim Moynihan.

Initially, Lytro's software for using its light-field camera was limited to Apple computers, but Windows support was introduced by the company in July.

Since Lytro's launch, owners of the camera have been posting photos taken with unit on a gallery at the company's website. More than 400,000 pictures have been posted to date.

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