What is an ideal camera for today's smartphone generation? Designers Vincent Sall, Dae jin Ahn and Chun hyun Park have created designs to explore the question. Inspired by the Leica X2, Vincent Sall envisions a Leica X3 that is an extremely mobile version of the high-end compact that folds up and communicates with a smartphone to share its images. Korean designers Dae jin Ahn and Chun hyun Park have put together a modular camera design calling it the Equinox. It reminds us of the Ricoh's GXR modular system. The 'core' consists of the sensor and lens mount that can be attached to various kinds of camera body shells to step it up from a compact interchangeable lens camera to a large DSLR. (via Yanko Design & Petapixel)

The Leica X3 concept by Vincent Sall

Sall's design for the Leica X3 concept is designed to be small, leveraging a connection to a cell phone or tablet, the goal being to share higher quality images than can be produced by today's smartphone. Stressing this, he says, 'This project is about filling the gap between big cameras with great image quality and smartphone cameras with limited quality/control.'

Vincent makes it clear that his project is not associated with Leica in any manner. It is inspired by the Leica X2, hence the branding. The design features a large optic that is concealed by the camera's body, which swings out of the way to convert from a lens cap to serve as the camera's right grip. 

There is no LCD or electronic viewfinder; instead Sall envisions an optical viewfinder directly opposite the lens. While this is an interesting idea in principle, it's hard to imagine where one would put an image sensor between these two optics. The large front lens element also has insufficient room to focus anything behind it if a sensor were there, so it seems like this design would have to get a lot thicker to achieve this kind of classic beauty while still managing to work as a camera. But it's a concept, not an actual product. Perhaps a future with transparent semiconductors might eliminate at least one of these impediments.

The charging unit for combined with the body makes it look like an ultra-thin version of Leica's X series of compact cameras.

Though one might imagine this as a location to house an LCD, Sall sees it primarily as a charger. For an LCD, look to your nearest bluetooth-connected smartphone for both framing and reviewing images.

The Equinox by Dae jin Ahn and Chun hyun Park

The aim of the Equinox, according to Korean designers Dae jin Ahn and Chun hyun Park is to create a system that makes it easy to switch between a basic compact camera with limited features to a body with all functions included. Ricoh GXR fans may recognize the sentiment, but the Equinox takes the concept even further.

The picture below shows the various options of camera bodies that could be added onto the 'core' sensor/lens mount module. 

This is an illustration of the Equinox concept camera body options.

This concept seems to assume, among other things, that the main difference between an entry-level SLR and a pro SLR is its grip and viewfinder, and that changing only those elements would transform one into the other. Though the concept seems appealing on the surface, it's difficult to think of other successful product categories that employ this strategy at a consumer level. Still, might the time have come to start considering such product concepts? What do you think? Let us know in the comments.