The Web is teeming with the unrealized ideas of both students and established designers who set out to produce astonishing renderings and prototypes for unusual products. Unfortunately, due to the lack of time, money, or technology, many of those products never move from the planning stages to the mass market. But that doesn't mean we can't salivate over their creations, nevertheless.
There's no getting around it -- we live in a camera-centric world. Every new cell phone on the market comes standard with a camera nowadays; photo-sharing sites like Flickr, Picasa and even Twitpic have revolutionized how our private memories become public. (To quote Betty White from her recent appearance on SNL: "In my day, seeing pictures of people's vacations was considered a punishment.") But we're past the point of no return, and you'll hear no lamentations from us. In turn, we decided to pull together a list of our favorite camera concepts from the past couple months, be they digital or analog or simply inconceivable. When you get sick of all that expensive, fancy and complicated DSLR machinery, just take a look at the designs below -- prototypes and one-offs that question camera conventions and what it means to take a good photo.
Rubikon Pinhole Rebel by Jaroslav Juřica
Pinhole cameras are, by convention, almost always DIY. But Czech designer Jaroslav Juřica
obviously wasn't content with some of the rougher variations on the pinhole, like those made from old cereal boxes or even, like the ones by artist Ann Hamilton
, from your own mouth. Juřica created a printable template of a more classic-looking camera under a Creative Commons license, so anyone with a printer and a desire can download
(.PDF), and start shooting. Open source design? We love!
Peekfreak Cameras by Wai Lam and Yann Huey
Challenging our current expectation of what a camera should be (digital, consistent, easy to use) designer Wai Lam and photographer Yann Huey got together to create a series of one-off designs called Peekfreak
. Made from decidedly non-photographic materials like old food containers and floppy disks, each camera is completely unique and produces its own flavor of image. The cameras use good, old-fashioned film in opposition to the digital vogue, and create pictures that resemble pinhole photos run through a heavy dose of distortion filtering. We wouldn't use one to photograph the family reunion, but a hacked camera producing pics that look like Stan Brakhage stills might have some use at the next Switched kegger.
Polaroid Redesign by Evan Jardee
must have been working hard on the renderings for this camera around the same time that Lady Gaga was named creative director of Polaroid; which was right about when the company announced the return of the instant-film camera. Well, Jardee's version of the classic camera takes a dive into the 21st century with an über-slim silhouette, 360-degree lens rotation, Wi-Fi capability and ten gigs of storage for your digital snaps. We don't love the fact that it requires a separate photo printer (which sort of defeats the purpose of an "instant" camera), but maybe Jardee just needs to hook up with the Impossible Project
people and integrate their hacked film into his design.
Aerial Capture by Matthew Clark
You don't need to charter a helicopter to get your own overhead photographs. This adorably retro-looking camera by Matthew Clark
is attached to a helium balloon, which lifts the camera aloft for amateur aerial photography. The shutter is connected to a manual trigger on a spool of wire attached to the balloon/camera rig. While the design itself looks straight out of the '60s, it boasts USB connectivity, so that you're not limited in your aerial exploits. Though there's no flash attached, we think that's probably for the best; shooting in the dark, and overhead, with no remote viewfinder leaves too many variables with which to negotiate. You'll have to be content spying on your neighbors during the day.
HAND.DI Camera by Zo Woo Geun
The camera-as-gun trope has been well played out (e.g., Susan Sontag dissecting the metaphor of "shooting" a subject in 'On Photography'), and people have even made cameras shaped like real guns
. But, nevertheless, we still like Zo Woo Geun's HAND.DI camera
, which looks like a cross between a Wiimote and a 'Star Trek' phaser. The Red Dot Design Award-winning camera is always at the ready for single-handed use, and can even be worn around the wrist for instant availability. A detachable remote is integrated into the body of the design, eliminating the need for both timed shots and handing your precious camera off to a stranger. Pew pew!