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Equinox modular and Leica X3 concept cameras

By dpreview staff on Mar 14, 2013 at 23:51 GMT

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. 


Total comments: 41
By peevee1 (Mar 20, 2013)

Both concepts looks absolutely impractical, inconvenient and technically impossible. The first one is especially ridiculous.

1 upvote
By rurikw (Mar 18, 2013)

I wish I could make such beautiful CAD renderings or are they models?

1 upvote
By utku67 (Mar 18, 2013)

No matter how beautiful the design of the camera may be, at the end of the day it all comes to the performance of the camera. After I had a huge disappointment (see my personal preview) I would never buy a camera without first trying. My last X2 adventure has been a good lesson to me. The lessons I learnt from my last x2 adventure:
1) never buy a camera based on reviews only.
2) Never buy a camera if you fell in love with its design and outlooks.
3) Never buy a camera even if you fell in love with the design and even if there many positive reviews about its performance without trying first with your own hands.
4) Above rules applies even if this camera is called a LEICA.

1 upvote
By carlosdelbianco (Mar 17, 2013)

Unfortunately I can't undo my click to this page...

By jameshamm (Mar 17, 2013)

A better concept would be to follow more closely a design vastly superior to today's camera designs: The eye.

Start with a spherical sensor and suddenly your lens can be surprisingly simple. You say it's too hard to build? A sensor is made by depositing chemicals on a back plane. The only thing that's hard about it is to ramp up production.

1 upvote
By 57even (Mar 18, 2013)

When you can create an optically perfect parabolic silicon wafer and mass produce it let me know.

By MarceloSalup (Mar 16, 2013)

Mind boggling and very creative. I hope both see the light of day.

Samuli Pulkkinen
By Samuli Pulkkinen (Mar 15, 2013)

Sensor inside Olympus E-PM2 beats most of those I have used professionally on past years, the one inside Sony's RX1 even more so. But still I like to use a big heavy bodies in so many situations (and small light ones in others).

Yes, I think that compact sensor module with different sized control grips, displays etc. could be very realistic vision for tomorrows camera.

Olympus OM-D with two grips is step to that direction. If you could add something like those and a hi-quality viewfinder to minuscule E-PM3, it would be very nice set to begin with. And why not a PDAF-module for bigger 4/3 lenses and have all the cameras you need around one sensor.

By snow14 (Mar 15, 2013)


Reg Ister
By Reg Ister (Mar 15, 2013)

Where is the shutter? Seems to be no space available for a mechanical shutter.

1 upvote
By Timmbits (Mar 15, 2013)

Yes, and I'd like a Porsche that fits into my pocket. Maybe they can design that too.

Why are such unrealistic ideas of the immature and inexperienced even getting any press time? Looks like kids doing class concept projects in industrial design program. Not really thought through (hard to do if you're ignorant about what you're designing).

It's like a parade of the impossible and the ludicrous.

By falconeyes (Mar 17, 2013)

Yeah, these kids seem to learn 100% of how to self-promote and the remaining fraction of how to actually do a proper form follows function design...

By knize10 (Mar 15, 2013)

Get rid of the little red dot !

1 upvote
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Mar 15, 2013)

Eh? Maybe I am missing something. But this E mount? Is that white long lens glued to the mount? Or is it strong magnets?

By sashk0 (Mar 15, 2013)

..any idea how to hold this pancake in hands?

1 upvote
By RoccoGalatioto (Mar 15, 2013)

it appears that most designers have never taken a photo

1 upvote
By SRHEdD (Mar 15, 2013)

AWESOME!! I've always wanted a Leica I could set my beer on when I wasn't taking pictures with it.

By povetron (Mar 15, 2013)

The Leica X3 concept looks very appealing, but can't imagine how to put all necessary things into that and make it functional. Especially if bigger sensor would be used.
Maybe I'm wrong, don't know.

By seanny (Mar 15, 2013)

Like DPReview says, the second concept is very much like a Ricoh GXR. I mean, the GXR would be great if it were, you know, competitive and current and more expansive.

1 upvote
By JWest (Mar 15, 2013)

Is there an awful lot of point in dreaming up concepts that are physically impossible to realise?

I could knock up a 3D render of a cool looking compact camera, and write things like "8-400mm f1.4 lens" underneath it, but does that really get us any closer to a useful product?

Rob Bernhard
By Rob Bernhard (Mar 15, 2013)

Do you have a Kickstarter campaing going yet? I'd like to get in on the t-shirt level...

By JWest (Mar 15, 2013)

Heck, if you can stretch to the $40 level we throw in the 2m high rock-steady tripod that fits in your pocket.

Of course, you don't really need a tripod when our IS saves you better than 12 stops.

By Revenant (Mar 15, 2013)

It is only by striving for the impossible, that one reaches the highest level of the possible.

By falconeyes (Mar 17, 2013)

No, striving for the impossible makes people fail. It is the subtle difference between visioneers and utopists ...

By Revenant (Mar 18, 2013)

Yes, but my point was that sometimes what is thought to be impossible actually turns out to be possible.

Paul_B Midlands UK
By Paul_B Midlands UK (Mar 15, 2013)

Credit from me for the beauty and innovation, nice idea and a huge hit if it works I'd imagine.

1 upvote
The Squire
By The Squire (Mar 15, 2013)

Despite the Equinox breaking all the physical rules of imaging, I like the idea. Look at a system like the Olly EM5 - Nice small body; You can add either a hand grip and/or a battery/portrait grip; If you could also make the EVF removeable then you've basically got a camera that can scale from a small M43 which is the right ergonomics/balance for a collapsible zoom lens, up to something near SLR-like that you can happily mount large zooms or primes on.

1 upvote
By CameraLabTester (Mar 15, 2013)

The Optical Designers back at the research ranch are all LOLing to bits.

Optics dictate the form, not the industrial design dribbles and scribbles.


By ProfHankD (Mar 17, 2013)

For both these "cameras," the ratio of case material to internal camera structure is roughly an order of magnitude off norms and maybe 3X the closest Sony NEX. I assume they're powered by radio waves because there's no space for batteries. ;-)

Anyway, the not-affiliated-with-Leica X3 seems like a violation of the Leica trademark and if I were Leica, the letter demanding damages would be in the mail by now.

By Deviantfotografer (Mar 15, 2013)

interesting design.... I still like the 'Classic' camera!!!!

1 upvote
Nishi Drew
By Nishi Drew (Mar 15, 2013)

"...his project is not associated with Leica in any manner" haha right, if he didn't plaster Leica all over it then no one would be as interested, or that's just a lack of confidence in one's own concept.
I kind of like where the saucer is going, doesn't look usable by hands though. But of course because it's got a Leica logo it would sell.

And yay~ for the Equinox, it's just what everyone needs, massive lenses on tiny unbalanced bodies

By Thoughts (Mar 15, 2013)

exactly! and a 'Pentax' logo is probably more appropriate since they are more likely to adopt some designers' ideas.

1 upvote
By ryanshoots (Mar 15, 2013)

"And yay~ for the Equinox, it's just what everyone needs, massive lenses on tiny unbalanced bodies"

Sony doesn't let that stop them either. NEX

By qwertyasdf (Mar 15, 2013)

WTH are these??????

By JackM (Mar 15, 2013)

This is what happens when designers are underemployed.

By gsum (Mar 15, 2013)

And gimmick laden compact cameras is what happens when the marketing dept is over-employed.

By ciao_chao (Mar 15, 2013)

This is all well and good, but when it comes down to it the most successful designs have always been those where form has followed function. Nikon probably has one of the best track records when it comes to industrial design, but going out of the camera world, one should look at the likes of Jonathan Ive and James Dyson.

It's a good bit of fun, but this reminds be of the Samsung/B&O Serene, beautiful but not all that practical, but if you want to make a camera-cum-fashion accessory maybe ask a fashion designer?

1 upvote
Clyde Thomas
By Clyde Thomas (Mar 15, 2013)

I love sci-fi that breaks all the rules of known physics.

By PowerG9atBlackForest (Mar 15, 2013)

Phrases, phrases ... What sort of physics is in there you didn't already know?

By miejoe (Mar 15, 2013)

No, this is just fiction. At least sci-fi attempts to be somewhat plausible based on current or near-future science.

By anthonyGR (Mar 16, 2013)

You must have never watched "Core", "Armageddon", ... or most sci-fi films made by hollywood for that matter.

Total comments: 41