The travel camera is an essential today. The area is robust, with superzooms getting smaller with faster sensors, like the new Canon 510HS 12x zoom in a small body.
It is often said that the best camera is the one in your pocket, and this is fairly pocketable. But is it the right direction? I have been carrying the delightfully small Canon 780 for several years, and while a 3x zoom, it is a marvelously small camera, easily lugged around - and yet I am drawn to the other camera essential, the smartphone.
The iPhone has been a weapon of mass destruction. It is rolling over wireless. Walled Gardens have been opened, Nokia and RIM have been humbled, and markets not in the direct line of sight are stumbling – none more than digital cameras. The vast majority of digital photos put up on the web are from the iPhone, not the little point & shoots. The iPhone 4S has raised the bar to the point it is making little sense to have a P&S around when you have the iPhone. Maybe the photo giants like Canon, Nikon and Sony can retreat into super-zoom travel cameras and DSLRs, but they are then retreating into smaller markets. Is there an alternative?
Artefact Group has re-imagined the camera with the WVIL concept. It has spurred a flurry of comment across the blogosphere. This picture captures the essentials, which I can simplify into:
- an Android base with WiFi (or 3G) to open the camera to apps and connectivity
- a new lens system that uses folded lenses to extend focal length with mirrors to be much more compact
- an ecosystem that is formed around a new camera platform