“If you are busy thinking, you are not seeing”. This camera is designed to help you quickly switch off your brain, and elevate your senses so you can start seeing. It is simplified down to the minimum, with usability in mind, yet it maintains all aspects of photography.
Small form, full frame, ergonomic, manual operation, simple to operate, and excellent image quality. These are the main properties which drove the design. Note that this is a conceptual design, which means that there might be some technical or financial challenges which do not allow for the conception of such a product.
I am a fan of small powerful cameras. A camera should be small enough to be invisible but yet it has to be ergonomic, easy to use, functional and it should yield good results. This design is inspired by the Leica M series, the Fuji X series, and the Sony RX1. Why Zeiss Ikon? To start with, I wanted to design an M-Mount camera. That left me with 3 options (Leica, Zeiss, and Voigtlander). I set a price range for the camera between the Sony RX1 and the Leica M due to the wide gap. Zeiss was the choice, and since Zeiss does not have an M-Mount digital camera, I decided to make one. Hence the Zeiss Ikon. Note that the Zeiss Ikon is a registered trade mark of Carl Zeiss Group. (disclaimer)
Camera as a Tool:
This camera is designed for the professionals due to its manual control and due to the price range. It cannot have an automatic mode because of the aperture ring on the lens and the lack of communication between the camera and the lens. However, manual control is the way to go if you really want to sculpt your photo the way you envision it. After all the camera is just a tool. It is your eye, your emotions and your life experience which influence you when you take a shot. The process of taking a photo should be as simple as possible to keep the emotions in place, otherwise the shot is gone.
What I mean by manual control is two settings on the camera. The aperture priority mode along with exposure compensation mode, and the shutter speed mode. These are the same mode but with different knobs on the camera!
One thing I decided to improve is to remove the ambiguity of the legacy design. The exposure compensation setting simply changes the shutter speed which is exactly what the shutter speed mode is about. So why have 2 knobs?! This camera has one. Another ambiguity is that on most cameras the exposure compensation in the view finder has a rectangular representation or < > signs, whereas the knob is cylindrical. Therefore this camera has a slider which works in coherence with the view finder. Sliding up will overexpose, and sliding down will underexpose the shot. It has a toggle switch to switch between A and S. In reality it is between A and M, but in this case it is only affecting the single slider which is controlling the shutter speed. If the switch is in S mode, to keep it consistent, the shutter will slow down when the slider moves up (overexpose) and will get faster as you slide down (underexpose). The difference is that when in S mode the slider will set the shutter in full stops (hence wider range). A photographer would operate in S mode when shutter speed has higher priority than aperture. Freezing a motion is one example. In this scenario a precise depth of field is not very important, therefore fine tuning the light in 1/3 stops can be done in the aperture.
One important decision I made was to split the back into 2 zones. The right side is for operation, and the left side is for previewing. I find this interface to be more usable and natural for handheld operation…
Should the photographer require extreme precision and control over the scene. The camera can be put on a tripod, and the dial on the left side can be used to control the shutter speed in 1/3 stops without touching the aperture when in operation mode. Pressing the magnifier during focusing will zoom the focus rectangle to full screen.
B, 15s, 8s, 4s, 2s, 1s, 1/2s, 1/4s, 1/8s, 1/15s, 1/30s, 1/60s, 1/125s, 1/250s, 1/500s, 1/1000s, 1/2000s, 1/4000s
Large diameter central spot meter similar to the 12mm sensor on the Leica M7. The meter is locked once the shutter button is half way pressed (In A Mode). This setup works between a spot meter and center weighted meter.
This camera has a dial to instantly change the ISO setting without removing the camera off your eye. I find the ISO setting to be as important as aperture and shutter speed. This setup will make photographers conscious of it and will use it for fine tuning. The ISO setting ranges from 50 to 6400 usable.
20 MP Full frame CMOS sensor without low-pass filter.
Focus Points And Indicators:
This camera has a single focus point in the center and uses phase detection. Focus confirmation beep is important in case of a use of an optical view finder mounted on the flash shoe. If you know your lens(es) and you have taken enough shots with it, you start to build some sort of visualization of the depth of field of the lens at every aperture. Moving the subject around the focus point should not be a problem. I do like the range finder focusing system and I believe that an electronic simulation of a range finder is possible using a split beam (Fuji has done it but with a bridge camera. There might be a technical issue here due to the flange focal distance). The advantage of a range finder is that it tells you how close you are to perfect focus. This helps in taking photos with soft focus. The focus point is red when out of focus and turns light green when in focus.
Electronic View Finder:
Clean view is essential to photographers. A cluttered view prevents the photographer from connecting with the subject. The view finder sticks to the essentials (battery power, one focus point, rule of third markers, Exposure compensation, number of photos taken/remaining, ISO settings, and finally the shutter speed). Colors should be faithful to the scene with no shifting or over saturation. Along with a good lens on the camera the EVF should produce an inspiring almost 3D feel to the scene. See picture bellow.
This camera is designed to be small and not threatening. However it is small enough to be usable and ergonomic for people with large hands.
Full frame translates to better quality, better ISO, and better Depth of Field. Since this camera is targeted to the Pros, it would not make any sense to have it as a cropped sensor especially since all M-Mount lenses support full frame.
USB connector, PC connection as well as flash shoe mount. The USB can be used for charging too. Battery still can be removed and replaced easily.
Sketches And Quick Manual: (Click on image to enlarge)