Most camera makers have added Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to their models over the last few years, allowing for wireless image transfer and smartphone-based remote operation. A new digital rangefinder from France's Pixii SAS cements that joining of technologies even more by doing away with the rear panel and gives the job of image display and storage to a paired smartphone.
"The digital camera hasn't changed much since the 90s," said Pixii's creator David Barth. "But now a new generation is learning photography with a smartphone. Who understands why a camera still needs to bother with a screen or an SD card?"
The Pixii makes use of a Leica M mount and sports a see-through-the-body rangefinder viewfinder to allow snappers to line up a shot by matching two shifted images in a scene and hitting the shutter release. The settings are controlled on the camera itself but once the shutter is pressed, the captured image is sent to a smartphone running a companion mobile app, which takes care of image processing, display and storage. Photographers can then edit or share the photo on the smartphone.
The 138 x 79 x 33 mm (5.4 x 3.1 x 1.29 in), 460 g (16.2 oz) camera boasts both Bluetooth 4.2 and 802.11b/g/n, and rocks a machined aluminum body with an accessory mount to the top. Also to the top is an OLED settings display. Light sensitivity isn't going to grab any headlines, maxing out at 100 to 6,400, but there's an electronic two-stage shutter, 12-bit sampling and high dynamic range.
Rounding out the given specs is a 1,000 mAh Li-ion battery and either 8 GB or 32 GB of internal storage (presumably for local image storage as a backup, though you'd still need a smartphone to access them).
An app-based approach means that new features and capabilities can be added all the time, without needing to undertake regular hardware refreshes. Mobile photographers benefit from a bigger sensor than can be found on smartphone cameras, though Pixii hasn't revealed the resolution or CMOS sensor size yet, and there's the option to use different lenses from Leica and Zeiss for different scenes.
But this does mean that you'll need to carry around yet another gadget (and optics) in your pocket when many would be satisfied with just whipping out an always-with-you phone to take a quick snap. And there's no mention of video recording capabilities, so you may need to break out a GoPro or similar, or use your smartphone for moving pictures, further limiting the Pixii's usefulness when out and about.
The Pixii debuted at Photokina last month, pricing and availability are expected to be revealed in the next few weeks.
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