We all love having great-looking photos. But learning how to get the best out of a DSLR or mirrorless camera and then mastering post processing is more of an acquired taste. Relonch is a US$99-per-month service that will provide you with a connected camera and automatically edit your best shots to be as good at they can using AI.
We first came across Relonch in 2014 when it was touting an iPhone camera case with a large APS-C sensor and a fixed lens. Unfortunately, that product never shipped, but now Relonch is back with a new concept, offering a camera-as-a-service where it promises great-quality images without the need to develop your photography skills, or touch any post-processing software.
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In exchange for a monthly fee of $99, Relonch will supply you with a very simple to use, but high-quality camera. This is currently a device based on a Samsung Galaxy NX which features a large APS-C sensor. However, the Model 291 camera is encased in colorful materials, has no rear monitor, no SD card, and a 30-mm prime lens (45-mm equivalent) is permanently attached.
As you may have guessed, it also works unlike any other camera. There is just one button for taking photos, and the Model 291 is locked in aperture priority mode, making it a true point and shoot, with photographers just in charge of framing the shot. When users hit the shutter button to take a photo, RAW files are sent via LTE wireless to Relonch servers where its "Pictured Technology" AI will make processing adjustments. A selection of the best images will then be available to the user the following morning via a Relonch app, where they can be viewed or downloaded.
Importantly, the processing is applied independently to objects within the frame of the photo, rather than being frame-wide filters. Because the processing is based on the company's edited photo stacks and algorithms, it says the resulting images look more like what you pictured than the RAW image. Looking at sample images, they often feature strong saturation and lots of contrast, giving an aesthetic style which will not appeal to everyone. They also tend to use the data within the RAW images to recover highlights and detail lost in shadows, giving an HDR (high dynamic range) effect.
Unsurprisingly, Relonch is not targeting its offering at hard-core photo enthusiasts who will almost certainly deride the service. Instead it says potential users are more likely to be families who see a value in high-quality photography, but don't want the hassle or time commitment which comes with owning and learning how to get the best out of a high-end camera, like these DSLRs, let alone editing and post processing their images.
It will be interesting to see whether Relonch is able to justify the cost with potential users. This will presumably depend on its ability to educate them on why a dedicated camera with a big sensor is going to produce better quality images than a smartphone, along with an understanding of the importance of good post processing in creating high-quality images.
The service is currently being trialled in Palo Alto, California, where users can take a Relonch Model 291 camera for a three-day test drive. Users can also register now for the full service which is due to launch in 2018 and will likely use updated hardware.
You can check out a promo video for Relonch below.
Editor's note: The Relonch website is advertising the service as $1 per photo, but we've gotten confirmation from a company representative that it is, in fact, $99 per month.
Product page: Relonch