You might've heard something about Lytro, often hailed as "a new type of camera that dramatically changes photography for the first time since the 1800s" or that'll at least change the way "you take pictures forever."
What's so special about it? Well, it's a little different from a regular camera. It's a light field, or plenoptic, camera. When you shoot, it isn't just capturing light on two-dimensional plane (namely, the color and intensity of it) like a normal camera — it's also capturing the direction light is moving in, using hundreds of micro lenses, so it's able to reconstruct an entire scene. What that means, practically, is that you can do things like adjust focus in a photo after you've taken it, rendering any section of the photo in sharp focus — foreground, background, middleground, wherever. It's pretty cool.
Other people have done full, thorough reviews of the Lytro. But there's really only one question that you care about: How good is it for taking pictures of puppies??? Here's your answer. (Click on any point in the photo to refocus it, double click to zoom.)
This is kind of like the signature Lytro shot: Something very close in the foreground (click to focus on the dog) and then something in the background (now click on the bench), where you can jump back and forth between two different focal planes.
There's a limit to the Lytro's magic macro focus capabilities.
We got the best shots of this dog, because it was in the brightest section of the park — the Lytro needs a ton of light to take decent photos — and it didn't move around too much too fast. Click on the dog, then on the Empire State Building. MAGIC.
The smaller and more frolicky your puppy is, the less omgwhoa the Lytro shots are, because it doesn't handle motion terribly well.
Stone puppies are well-suited to Lytro photography.
Even up close with a relatively calm puppy, it's sometimes tricky to capture a super sharp photo with a lot of detail.
Here are some dogs humping.
Verdict on the Lytro as a puppy camera: About the same as every other review of the Lytro. You need really bright light, a relatively motionless puppy (how often does that happen??) and the Lytro still works best for a fairly particular kind of close-up shot, where the focusing effect is most dramatic. And there's something of a learning curve for pulling out the best shots out of the camera. The tube shape and small viewfinder make it kind of awkward to compose your shots, too, especially if you want to get down and shoot from a puppy's point of view.
You'll probably get better photos, on average, with a good phone camera. I don't love most of these photos, for instance. But man oh man, you can totally see how this is going to be where puppy photos go one day: Do you want to have super sharp focus on their tongue? Or on their tail? You won't have to choose ever again.