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Wednesday, 09 October 2013


I love how they designed the moiré onto the body. Hopefully will mitigate the moiré inside.

Calling this silly meaningless bauble is an insult to the silly meaningless bauble community. You've been too kind.

I don't know how many times I've seen things (articles of clothing, watches, etc.) that were supposedly "special" because they were "designed" by someone who had a reputation as a designer and, aside from the logo/signature, the item was only marginally different in appearance from any other off the shelf similar item. I remember once my boss came to work after Christmas wearing a Dior cardigan that his wife gave him. Aside from the embroidered DIOR on the left breast it was identical to one I had purchased from a discount dept store.

Experienced curmudgeon

I'm in complete agreement but I'd take it even one step further. This "noteworthy" camera has virtually nothing to do with photography. Owning this one (as opposed to a plain Jane version) will have virtually no impact on the actual image. It has everything to do with collectibles/collectors. And that's a universe that has rules I simply do not understand.... shrug.

It's just another lifestyle "prop," like "limited edition" or "signature" sneakers that only differ from the ordinary stuff through use of different colored/exotic materials,low production runs and some form of celebrity endorsement.

This falls squarely in my "I don't care" category, but one thing that jumped at me was how awful those recessed controls in the top appear to be for real-world usage. Not that I think anybody is going to actually use this camera to take photographs, of course.

I'd rather bother you with things like this:

Which I think is rather more to TOP's point than yet another bauble.

Sure is beautiful. Wish all camera manufacturers take note of this "silly meaningless bauble."

Anyway, made me pull out yea olde Leica M6, Fomapan 800 which is now over 20 years old, and the M Winder. Why not? Gorgeous gear needs fondling and use, once in a while...

I get what you're saying about dressing vs. designing, but is that really true in this case? It looks like an M with an integrated 50 mm lens, so there might be at least some actual design involved.

Kind of reminds me of a 1950's Carl Zeiss Werra, but with rounded edges. But I think the Werra is better looking.

Scratch that. I guess it's just a new version of the lens that he designed. So you're probably right.

Fanbois, the lot of them. I regret the covering of this blingfest in otherwise useful, serious photography sites.

Things like this one make me wonder, what is industrial design? It's certainly not what Ive did here. It doesnt look like a serious attempt at improving over the Leica M's design. I know it's a camera designed for a charity auction, and thank god for that. Would someone want to use that instead of a straight Leica M? The thing looks as if my M8 dressed up as a 2004 iPod for Halloween.

I'll keep using Ive's designs in the form of iPhones and MacBooks. But I hope he never gets a job at Leica.

I call it the "silver ghost" but you have to admit it is waste of a good camera. I thought it would be impossible to beat the Leica design and I was right. UGLY.

Quite right: the Pentax MX is still a better designed camera.

UN-designed would be a more apt word, given the anti-ergonomics job done to the shutter speed dial. They might as well have made it a Philips head screw. Still, it will do it's job well... that is, to sit perfectly still, look ever so pretty, and accumulate value.


I'd point the finger at the press etc for the use of the word 'designed', though:
a) I don't think it matters
b) It's for charity (as you do mention) and so let's not be churlish. Charities need to leverage any celebrity link they can in order to make difference: Apple has a long history of supporting Project red
c) An alternative view is always welcome, yet I am a bit surprised just how curmudgeonly this one comes across

I've always thought the most Ive-looking camera is the white Nikon 1.

First thing that comes to my mind on seeing this: White as an Apple!

Another way in which the look of this camera shares in the elevated attributes of a banknote - besides the disconnection of cost from worth - how obstinately hard it is going to be, to reproduce.

That (presumably grippy?) patterning on the main part... really nasty aliasing (grin).

Industrial design students would refer to this for what it is: a styling project. It's interesting to me how much of the photographic world has chimed in to critique this one off piece - many negatively. To me, it is a thought provoking, if not surprising, melding of two aesthetics know for simplicity. There is some tension between the elements that have made Apple and Leica successful products. Still, I want to hold one, if only to know how well that dial works.

This is camera as "art object". It's meant to sit on a shelf not take photographs. It's a conceptual camera.

That would also explain the design of the dials on the top deck (that look less than usable to me) and the laser perforated body (an impossible to clean dirt magnet as anyone with a Macbook Pro knows).

Whilst sitting on the shelf it makes a great test object for moiré.

yes and in fact it seems he's de-designed it if that makes any sense- he's taken out all the tactile feedback the controls give, the difference between the aperture and focus rings, the shutter speed knob, they all are as undifferentiated as the white etherial glow Ive seems to exist in in the Apple videos.

He made it worse.

Can the Jonathan Ive Edition Tesla Model S be far behind?

Thank you for designing this post.

The camera doesn't look like a child's cheap plastic toy as much as Newson's Pentax does, but it's close.

The smooth lens rings and recessed knobs scream "unuseable". I haven't held one, so I could be wrong but since nobody has, my opinion is as valuable as anyone's...

I use Leica's alongside my ZI. I have no interest in this product. Well reported:)

Ironic that Mike can write:

"Jony Ive "designed" a camera. No, he didn't. He just dressed a camera."


"As far as I can tell, huge amounts of resources, time, and attention were wasted creating a silly meaningless bauble."

when a couple of inches away you write:

" I've long been aware that I come to photographs with two hats on. One is my editor's/critic's hat. In that frame of mind you have to be open to all sorts of work, and take creators of art at their work and on their own terms."

Photographers, when it comes to our cameras, have incoherent - if not outright schizophrenic - tastes.

Cameras are dogmatically tools and form must follow function! Unless we are talking about cameras with a retro look, where rectilinear dimensions are preferred, despite the fact that they are more difficult to hold and don't come to hand like the black shapeless hunks of plastic known as DSLR's.

Huge amounts of time wasted on a meaningless bauble! A bauble using the same design aesthetics that engendered millions of words of encomium for the philosophical genius of Steve Jobs, and the sublime satisfaction of sleek simplicity.

Is this not the same website whose author waxed poetic on the delicious aesthetics of a new, substantially more expensive version of a compact camera which came with pre-weathered brass plates?

Could it be that the vituperation we see all over the photo webs for the "dressed up" Hasselblad NEX-7 and now this "dressed up" Leica is more a function of class envy than it is of a coherent philosophy of technology?

I just got the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Micro 4/3 Mirrorless Camera from http://www.ritzcamera.com and its really awesome! It hasn't even been released in the stores yet but this site has a few of them in stock now!

Amen! My fascination with Leica begins and ends with my trusty M2 that's an easy three decades older than myself: Just a hearty little box that does one thing and does it very well.

I'd say Ive and Newson were the camera stylists.

There is an interesting loop closing here, one that I found out about thanks to a post on the Pentax Forums site this morning...

The above-view of the K-01 bears a more-than-passing resemblance to the above-view of the Leica Digilux I.

Here is the URL to the thread:

The post in question is the fifth down on the second page of the thread.

The first camera that really needs an AA filter -- if you want to take a picture of it.

You are right about the word "design" Mike. There is engineering design -- the true use of the word, and there is "industrial design" which is essentially styling the appearance and human interface of an object. Calling styling "design" has always bugged me too.

I agree wholeheartedly with your distinction, Mike.

Frankly, it seems impossible that it took both Ive and Newsom to get this result.

That said: wouldn't it be great to see a Jony Ive designed camera? One where he had free reign over the hardware and software?

It's all a matter of taste, I know, but one could be forgiven to think that, after Marc Newson had penned the Pentax K-01, a restraining order would have been issued so that he kept away from camera design. But no - he's at it again.
The first thing I noticed about this camera was that it had no hotshoe. I instantly figured it was a camera for frivolous people who have more money than sense. Then I saw those recessed control dials, which must be a nightmare to operate, and my impression was confirmed. The people who will buy this camera won't probably use those dials. Actually, they're not even likely to use the camera at all.
The M series cameras are among the most beautiful cameras ever made. It took Leica several decades to fine tune their simple, yet sophisticated looks. And now those guys made it look like an iPhone skin. Blasphemous.
At least it is for a good cause... I suppose.

Any comment at all on a Leica camera will draw ire from those who love the brand and those who loathe it. I bought a second hand Leica X2 earlier this year and, for me, it is the answer to my quest for the perfect simple camera. Small, well built, easy to use....you rarely have to dive into the menu...and the results are very pleasing.

It's good that Jony the Great has broadened his horizon beyond Apple. Maybe he's just what Leica needs as those ostrich gonad leather Ms are getting a little passe.

Maybe Apple could even start focussing on substance in his absence.

I agree with you on this. While I do find it to be very nice looking, it's not much different than Nikon's Coolpix S31 in that both look like idealized icons of what they represent.

It seems to me the lack of protuding knobs and rings would make this less freindly to use.

I not sure I can agree with 'dressed' versus 'designed'. He did make some functional decisions about stuff, like the missing hot-shoe.

On the other hand I don't give a flying one for L cameras so lets just hope someone pays a fortune for it.

Hasselblad lost their mojo and started to dress up Sony cameras. I suppose Leica felt they would be left behind unless they move one step further from the already tried Hermes and lizard skin dress game.

Stylist are the new designers, just like mechanics are the new engineers.

We big up the stuff we almost understand and dismiss the clever back-room nerds, who modestly and quietly do stuff that is beyond our ken and make magic happen every day.

Only one thing is necessary,Mike: accept your fate and curmudge with pride.

Mike, I'm sorry, but you are not correct on this one. Like the 90% of the online community in this case. You are judging K-01 by what some "pundits" and gatekeepers of the "holy digital photography" assumed that makes a successful product.
K-01 was not a product flop. What happened is that demand actually exceeded production plans. It's as simple as that. And because extra was demanded, blue/white model was restarted for the Asian market.
From the beginning of their Pentax acquisition, and well into late 2011, Ricoh was expecting camera market to take a deep plunge. They didn't want same fate to happen to their products like Nikon and Canon allowed — involuntary inventory build-up.
That is partly responsible for the big DSLR sales flop in early 2013, as Nikon was selling more 3-years old models than new models, which were building an extra inventory.
K-01, then the GR, etc. are all just carefully measured up, and then the market is deliberately undersupplied to allow free space for new models. Expect same with K-3 you never mentioned (despite Pentax being an old advertiser here on TOP ;-).

Jony Ive did design a camera—the most popular one in the world, I hear. It was one of the cameras used in your last print sale, n'est-ce pas?

I think the K -01 was actually nice design. It is just that the product itself was flawed. Too chunky for mirror less without any kind of viewfinder. If they had put a good EVF in the same form factor I think it would still be a great camera.

I've studied the photos carefully, and I can't figure out how you would remove the bottom plate to access the battery and memory card. I guess you'd have to send it back to Apple for that...

Thankfully it's only a one-off. I hope it raises a fortune for the charity.

de Silva's special edition Leica housed an antiquated, miserable CCD sensor in a very nice camera body and was thus a compromised, unsatisfactory camera instrument.

Ives' and Newsom's special edition Leica houses a modern, very nice CMOS sensor in a miserable camera body and is thus a compromised, unsatisfactory camera instrument.

Had Leica re-used Walter de Silva's design but delivered it this time in clean black titanium, without that ugly red dot, and with an EVF connector, I might seriously have considered bidding for it.

By the way, I think it would be an interesting exercise to gauge the "wisdom of crowds" by setting up a poll to try to guess the price this latest Leica is going to fetch at the charity auction to be held in late 2013.

There have been many cases where the actual outcome of a future event was pretty accurately predicted by the median of the statistical distribution of a multitude of independent opinions.

Does anyone know of an Internet site where one could easily submit a price estimate for what that Leica will fetch, and at a later date, check the statistical distribution of these estimates and the median ?

I hate cameras without a grip. I hate cameras with the only design element of resembling to a brick (or a rounded brick). I don't like retro.

Wow, they really phoned it in on this one

Step 1: Take Leica
Step 2: Sand off edges
Step 3: Make all buttons and dials harder to use
Step 4: Profit

If I was an extremely talented product designer and a well respected firm known to have a large following of rich collectors came to me with the challenge of "dressing" a camera for the purpose of building a one-off to be auctioned off to raise money for charity and if I had the time to put into a totally different type of project from what I normally work on (even without pay because I was beyond well paid already) I think such a challenge would interest me too.

At Apple design is far more than skin deep as many but apparently not all understand and this project isn't that. But I find the whole exercise interesting and worthy given it's intended purpose. Maybe not much different than a concept car at an auto show that would be auctioned off for charity.

"The people who will buy this camera won't probably use those dials. Actually, they're not even likely to use the camera at all."

I think it bears repeating that there is ONLY ONE of this camera. It's not in any way a production model, it's a one-off created solely to raise money. It's almost certainly never going to be used to take 'real' pictures.

It's a sculpture that only incidentally has the guts of a camera inside it.

This reminds me of the story that - many years ago - that Italian designer Luigi Colani was approached to 'redesign' the Leica M; he refused, saying that it was already perfect.

Yes, but does it have a clickwheel?

" Wish all camera manufacturers take note of this "silly meaningless bauble."

I hope not. I don't want to see an Ostrich Brown Olympus EM-5 "designed" by Dior at the "interesting" price of 3000 €...
Special Editions are what a company puts out consistently when it stops to innovate.

That shutter speed wheel on the top that everybody (rightly) criticizes. It would be cool if it was a pop up. Press it down and it pops up on a spring and can be set, or left up for use, and press it down again and it stays down. If you set it to A you don't really need to adjust it all the time. That would be product design that could actually work better than the original.

The problem with this is that a silver or black MP is so beautiful that it is almost impossible to top its design.

What next, a Jony Ive designed Ferrari?

Back in the day, when Heinrich Janke was responsible for the looks of the Leica M3, he was referred to as the Leitz stylist. A more honest and accurate description of the job than designer. Jony Ive is a stylist and this Leica M has had a makeover in the style of Apple iThings.

A rare instance of putting a pig on lipstick or somesuch, methinks.

Although I agree that this thing is hideous and as you state "dressed" rather than designed...

I believe that Sir Jony Ive does know the difference...

By that I mean to say...

Who designed the iPhone?

Doesn't that have a camera...?

Is it possible to take reasonable pics with said device?

phew! after all the digital ink wasted on that daft sir jonny camera, your rant was a wonderful breath of fresh air. many thanks for that!

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