Conran reimagines the camera
If you could redesign any object, what would it be – and what would you change?
That’s the question Jared Mankelow, Senior Product Designer for Conran and Partners, was asked by BBC Future recently.
Jared chose the camera, and set about reimagining every aspect, from the form factor to the technology inside.
What strikes you first is what isn’t there – the Conran camera has a hole in the middle.
Cameras are large masses that you hold up to your face. However good the viewfinder is, the reality is that the camera tends to block your view.
The ultimate goal is to take a photo of what you see. What we’ve done is punch a big aperture through the camera’s centre, to connect the photographer with what’s in front of them.
Another notable omission is the screen – a feature of virtually every digital camera these days. Jared argues that, in a world where most of us carry smartphones, the pokey camera screen has had its day.
Everybody has got a smartphone, tablet or PC nowadays – all featuring a very high-resolution screen. Why have a poor-quality substitute sapping battery life from your camera?
The Conran camera transmits images via Bluetooth with the touch of a button – or you can recapture the delight of a film camera by not looking.
We love the idea of not viewing your images right away. It brings back some of the excitement of taking your film to the lab, and having to wait to find out what’s on it.
From a control perspective, the Conran camera combines instant-on, automatic shooting with a full set of manual controls. Instead of being buried in fiddly, screen-based menus, all of the controls are physical: grooves, knurls and ridges allow the user to change settings without looking.
Image quality was another important focus.The camera sensors surround the central aperture in an array, allowing the camera to resolve images with incredible clarity – and a ring flash allows even lighting of close up subjects.
Our current crop of digital cameras are technical marvels, says Jared, but their form hasn’t kept pace with their function. And because of that, we’ve lost the joy of image-making.
What we’ve really tried to do is boil it down to the essence of what a digital camera should be.