Using so-called light field imaging, the small camera, called Lytro, allows users to focus photos after they've been taken.
With every other camera until now, the concept of focus wasn't absolute. There was just one point. But instead of aiming one beam to a specific point, the Lytro uses a special sensor and software to capture all of the information so you can refocus your pictures anytime.
"It has applications for everything that has a lens in front of a sensor," said Ren Ng, founder and CEO of Lytro.
The camera, which began shipping Wednesday, grew out of Ng's doctoral project at Stanford. Retailing at roughly $300, it can upload to social networks like Facebook and allows users to manipulate images too.
"One of our goals was to make it accessible to as many people as possible," said Ng.
The Lytro is already so popular that there's a two-month waiting list for it. The start-up also has plans for a video version of the camera.