Today, cameras aren’t just tools. They are computers with software, updates, and long menus. While this has benefits, many of the features get in the way of taking photos. Analog cameras encouraged a more intentional and focused way of photography, which was lost in the transition to digital.
Equipment for analog photography is getting increasingly rare, which makes it inaccessible for many non-professionals.
This concept aims to combine the benefits of digital tools with the focus of analog cameras.
The device is minimalistic. Buttons and controls are kept to a minimum, while still preserving the traditional characteristics of a camera. On the front, there is a black-and-white screen, a dial, and a viewfinder. The screen displays important metrics, while the viewfinder is used for composition. Once a picture is taken, it can’t be viewed on the device. It can only be reviewed on a computer using the USB-C port on the camera.
On the top, left to the aperture dial and shutter button, the camera has pins to attach a flash. The typical flash mount is easily damaged and collects dirt when it’s not in use. For most people, that’s the majority of the time. The mount on CM-01 takes a different approach: The flash is mounted with magnets, which allows it to quickly be attached when needed.
On the front, the camera houses a standard lens mount and a power switch.
The case of the device could be manufactured in a variety of colors, but I focused on light and dark variants for the visualizations. I like the simplicity of the white unit, but many people prefer dark devices. The color accents on the camera add a bit of fun to the device.
While not visible in these renders, the device should feature screws for great repairability. A camera should last a long time, and designing a device to be thrown away after just a few years is wasteful and irresponsible.
There are a lot of features CM-01 doesn’t have: Video recording or Bluetooth, for example. The goal of this project was to create a very focused device that’s an inspiring tool. When technology gets in the way, photography becomes less fun and the photographer isn’t creating art anymore. They are operating a computer.
That’s also why there are no firmware updates or even dedicated apps for transferring photos. It doesn’t need to connect to the internet to be fully functional. All of this ensures great longevity for the device.
For decades, we’ve been building devices that break due to external factors, can’t be repaired, and are meant to be “consumed” & replaced within a couple of years. I strongly believe that this is not the right approach to product design and CM-01 is an example of how a different kind of electronic device can be built.
If you liked this exploration of a completely different take on digital photography, consider sharing this project or letting me know on Twitter. If you know anyone who would be interested in turning this into a real product, I’d love to hear from them.