The Conceptual Nikon C1

What do we all want but cannot have? Yes, we all know what it is. That perfect camera. And for sure, we all know that it needs to be the smallest, lightest camera, that has every conceivable manual control on the outside, that has a zoom that goes from 10 to 1000mm but is only 2 inches long and has a constant aperture of f/1.2, is silent, unobtrusive and gives us the sort of photographic freedom to compose our shots using an interface that harks back to the age of classic film cameras, done with minimum fuss, total control, and using all the very latest digital innovation that can be thrown at it.

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I guess we will be waiting a while...

In the meantime, I figured I would design my own. And what would one do when they have something that just might be either highly acclaimed, or highly criticized, that could easily contain enough unique design elements that would sensibly be better patented before showing a soul, or so poorly conceived to not even be worth discussing over coffee? I figured life is too short for such delusions of success, or fear of total ridicule and failure, and the only thing left would be to get the dream out of my silly head and into the world, where we can let the chips fall where they may.

And so, I have attached the ‘brochure’ for what would be a camera I personally would like to carry around. Meet the Nikon C1. It could easily be a Canon, Fujifilm or Leica, but as I am familiar with Nikon, that’s the way I went. I hope, in a society where litigation can be thrown around for just using a design element as simple as a square with rounded-corners, none of these companies hold it against me in any way regarding the reckless indulging of my fantasies. It is not my intent to hurt. And I should say, my drawing skills are rather limited, although you may be interested to know all of this was done using MS Word drawing tools... amazing what one can achieve by pressing lots of buttons and clicking away until something resembling more than a cartoon style sketch done on the back of a napkin is created. The purists out there will together I am sure find solidarity in cursing my primitive rendition, but I do hope those that look to understand concepts rather than realism will “get the idea”...

The design is somewhat unashamedly influenced by what I think most will agree was one of those classic iconic SLRs, and let’s be clear on this, definitely my favourite camera, the Nikon F4s, albeit transposed here to digital and made somewhat more compact, roughly a centimetre taller than a Nikon Coolpix P7100, and two centimetres wider. The proportions of everything on the camera may not quite match reality or even technical possibility - that is the good thing about designing a dream; one can flirt with physics. Who knows exactly how that grip should really feel, what the best sensor should be. And yes, the lens is rather a hopeful fictitious desire more than anything, hoping at least for anything that is state of the art optically so as to achieve some classic shallow depth of field. Whether it should be fixed, zoom or interchangeable, it is all open to suggestion. Dream on is what I say...

 Design Specifications

I am not sure what this article should say or not, and maybe it could be of no interest to anyone, but perhaps my only real hope is that maybe, if we all talk more about what we want, it gets the word out to those great camera manufacturers out there, and then, someone will one day build it, or something like it, and I will finally be able to hold the ‘one’ in my hands every day, at every moment.

I hope it stimulates some thoughts.

Nikon C1

Design Specifications

  • Classic analogue camera controls for Mode, Shutter Speed, Aperture, Exposure Compensation, and ISO, plus selection dials for Focus Area, Focus Servo, Drive,  Metering and White Balance modes
  • Front command and rear command dial allow contemporary digital camera adjustment of settings
  • Classic range-finder type finder, with zoom coupling, that displays essential shooting information, such as Shooting Mode, Shutter Speed, Aperture, Focus Lock, Exposure Compensation, and Flash information
  • Contoured front-grip allowing superb handling when operating top and front-mounted controls with right-hand
  • Camera has side-access to dual-SD card slots, Video Out, External Mic In, and Flash Sync sockets, all under rubberized cover, with the battery and tripod-mount socket accessed on the bottom side.
  • Three user-definable FN function buttons ,  plus push and select buttons for Flash Mode and Compensation
  • All classic controls have a unique innovative feature, whereby, when the small square symbol is selected, the internal camera setting for that dial is used, which can be chosen from an expanded range of menu-selectable settings
  • Digital controls for Playback, Delete, Menu, Lock, Zoom (using rear command dial), Image Quality and Bracket settings
  • All external controls are dust and weatherproof
  • The Info button displays a summary of all current settings on the LCD display, and when held-in will back-light all external control labels
  • Rear grip sculptured to allow good handling while operating AF button, rear command dial and four-way controller
  • Sculptured shape that allows the left hand to support the camera while operating lens rings
  • Buttons for LCD display mode and instant image voice-memo tagging
  • Large controls with tactile feedback, with position sensed easily by touch
  • Fine tuning of shutter speed to +/- one-third of a stop
  • Instant video start button and classic threaded shutter-release button, plus Off-On-Lock dial, where the Lock feature enables camera controls specified by user to be locked, avoiding accidental activation
  • Lens is an ultra-fast 24-105 zoom, with aperture, zoom and manual focus rings, with switchable Vibration Reduction control

Nikon C1