Connected cameras of the future: Crossover solutions
As camera manufacturers attempt to counter the onslaught of a smartphone-in-every-pocket mobile photography movement taking the place of point-and-shoot cameras, some solutions seek to combine the two devices. Thanks in part to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, smaller companies and individuals are also proposing crossover gadgets that integrate mobile and traditional cameras.
We pulled together a handful of these ideas — now in production or still in development — for your interest (and, possibly, amusement). Are these technological wonders that you'll spend your hard-earned cash for, or are they destined for the recycle bin?
Fitting smartphones to cameras
There's still no sign of Badass Cameras' promised Kickstarter campaign, but the company (which doesn't have a website but, instead, posts on its Facebook page) has started testing its smartphone "digital back."
There's not much to it as far as we can see other than an adapter that attaches your smartphone to a medium format film camera so you can preview/capture digitally what you're shooting on film. Love it or hate it, the device is being tested in studio, so the Kickstarter can't be far behind, right?
Along the same lines, photographer Michael Amos hacked a hard shell case for his HTC Android smartphone to fit onto the viewfinder of his Canon 35mm SLR. You can read more about his smartphone/SLR adapter here. Click here to get a closer look at the device and see some of the images he's shot with this DIY film-to-digital adapter.
The Turtleback SLR jacket, which we reviewed here, is an adapter that allows you to mount a Nikon or Canon SLR lens (or a Lensbaby) to a smartphone. Basically, you put your iPhone into a case, attach the DOF adapter and you're almost good to go. It looks a little unwieldy but you'll have to read Aimee Baldridge's review to find out the details about this $249 accessory.
This 41-megapixel camera watch from Swiss company Hyetis does it all: takes pictures, shoots video, is equipped with an optical zoom and ring flash, records the temperature (and other data such as GPS, altitude and biometric information) and more. Oh, yeah, it tells time, too.
Images can be transferred to iOS, Android or Windows Phone 8 smartphones using WiFi, Bluetooth or NFC (near field communication). Although the company's not yet taking orders for this smartwatch, it's estimated to set you back $1,300 when it's ready to ship. For more information, check out our write-up here. Dick Tracy would be jealous.
Blending smartphones and compacts, with a zoom
Samsung recently released the Galaxy S4 Zoom, perhaps the most functional camera/smartphone available today. Built around a 16-megapixel sensor, the S4 Zoom is outfitted with a 10x (24-240mm equivalent) image-stabilized optical zoom, a built-in Xenon flash and a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display. Photocentric features such as scene modes and adjustable ISO (100-3200) add to its camera-like personality. Running on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, you'll be connected as you run through the S4 Zoom's photo functions. But is the S4 Zoom too much like a point-and-shoot camera and not enough like a smartphone, especially given its bulky design and lens?
We've been hearing plenty of rumors about Sony's supposedly soon-to-be-released interchangeable sensor/lenses for smartphones, which, if true, would provide a serious boost for mobile photographers.
If the reports pan out, these smartphone add-ons would include a built-in sensor, Bionz processor, WiFi, NFC and an SD card slot. Two versions are supposedly in the works, one with a 10x zoom and the other with a 3.6x zoom. Both would clip onto iOS and Android smartphones, which would control the lens via Wi-Fi. Sony Alpha Rumors has posted more specs here, which they claim were taken from the lens' manual.
When compact interchangeable lens cameras first appeared, no one was certain what to call them, maybe EVIL (electronic viewfinder interchangeable lens cameras)? Turns out that wasn't exactly the marketing angle manufacturers were looking for.
But it seems that we weren't the only ones thinking along those lines, at least in terms of acronyms. The WVIL (wireless viewfinder interchangeable lens) is a concept camera developed by Artefact Group, a technology product design company that prides itself on thinking outside of the box. It seems this concept has been around for a while (they did a faux "launch" at CES 2011). Given the rumors about Sony's lens cameras for smartphones, Artefact Group's concept camera may not be too far off with the lens' built-in sensor. Visit the Artefact Group's site for WVIL's impressive, albeit imaginary, specs.
Let's hear from you: What direction should future camera/smartphone hybrids take?