Lytro Light Field Camera Digital Camera Review$399.00
Low Light Performance
With low resolution, poor noise performance, and heavy-handed noise reduction, the Lytro doesn't take great low-light pictures. The bright f/2 lens does help it to expose nighttime shots correctly and without motion blur most of the time, which is better than most cheap point-and-shoots can muster. But the resulting pictures are pretty sloppy and desaturated.
The Lytro doesn't offer manual ISO control, so we had to improvise. Basically, we adjusted the lighting in our lab to force the Lytro to adjust its ISO setting. We then ran the shots through the Lytro software and exported the images as JPEGs for testing.
Based on what we found, the Lytro earned a below average noise score, but within expectations for a cheap point-and-shoot. At the base ISO (80), noise made up about 0.84 percent of the shot. The signal-to-noise ratio dropped quickly as the ISO level rose. At ISO 3200, we measured over 3 percent noise, and heavy-handed noise reduction pretty much scrubbed the fine details out of the shot—not that the photos have much to begin with, since resolution is so low. More on how we test noise.
The Lytro's ISO range starts at 80 and ends at 3200, though there is no manual control over the ISO settings. Since we couldn't control the ISO level, we couldn't shoot our still life like we typically do—hence the mostly empty table below. Check out our Sample Photos page for more examples.
Low Light Color
Anecdotally, the Lytro loses color saturation quickly at higher ISOs, so some indoor and most nighttime shots will look pretty drab.
Since the Lytro is a light field camera, users can focus its shots after they're taken, using the Light Field Engine. There's no need for any autofocus or manual focus system, so shots are pretty much instantaneous in any kind of lighting, and accuracy is irrelevant.