Friday, March 12, 2010

An idea... for a camera manufacturer somewhere

Okay so I had an idea the other day while reading some stuff on the web about cameras and how people use technology.

Now this idea has a lot to do with photo nuts or people a little frustrated with the quality of photos coming out of  mobile phones.  The appeal of camera phones is how we already are carrying them around with us ALL the time.  People buy dedicate cameras because the images coming out of them look better.  I own a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera because it takes even better pictures and I can choose what lens to put on it.

So essentially the idea that struck me is this.  Why doesn't someone make a really cool relatively compact "micro four thirds" digital camera and slap a phone with GPS in it?  As long as there was an integral body cap or it shipped with a really small pancake style lens, I think there must be people clever enough to make it small enough that it would slip into a jeans pocket and yet still be able to swap lenses from the micro-4/3rds system.

For instance, the current Olympus PEN E-PL1 micro 4/3rds camera is 115 x 72 x 42mm  (excluding protrusions) .  In way of comparaison, my Nokia E71 mobile phone is 114 x 57 x 10 mm  So without a lens that particular camera is still a little thick for a jeans pocket and that's without a lens on it.  So maybe it can't be done, I realize that physics plays a part in this.  But consider this, if someone made this with a decent pancake lens on it, and was able to get it small enough to fit into a pocket, that's one device you could do everything with.  I would be willing to bet that if it just had an integral sliding body cap for when you don't have a lens on it that it could be popular.
Perfect for taking trips, your connection to the outside world, your map and navigation, your music player, and your camera all in one device.  Obviously, you wouldn't want to lose it...  but for someone like me and many other photo enthusiasts, if I could go walking and be able to take great photos with a device I'm already carrying and maybe one or two more lenses, both of which would likely fit in the space a large water bottle would take?  I would think you'd sell 5 or 6 of them.

There's all kinds of things you could do help people manage the content on a device like this too.  You could have two memory card slots, one for the phone half and one for the camera half.  With the SDHC memory cards you can currently get 32GB per card, and in time the SDXC format will bring up to 2TB of storage.
You could go with a touch screen kind of thing (ala iPhone) or hardware buttons, or maybe even both.  I think interchangeable batteries would be a must.

Four thirds cameras seem to be getting some traction worldwide, and being a relatively open platform you could easily get all kinds of accessories and lenses for such a system.  I can think of all kinds of cool software hacks that you could do with a device like this.  Think remote time lapse where the phone emails pictures as it takes them.

Anyways, I think that if someone just sat down and started to think it all through there could be some really neat things that came from a camera with a phone in it.

Just an idea though... thanks for even reading it.  If they ever make one, you'll know I thought of it first.

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