We gave a Zeiss ExoLens PRO to an experienced photographer to use. His review features a gallery of samples taken with the ExoLens and an iPhone 6 Plus.
California start-up gambles on $99 a month camera as a service offering
Not since the Pentak K-01, almost five years ago, have I seen anything quite as bizarre as the Relonch 291 camera; a $99 a month camera. But in this day and age being bizarre is not necessarily an indicator of guaranteed failure. As we know only too well from this year, it’s been difficult to predict winners, no matter how bizarre. However, the Pentax K-01 was both bizarre and a failure.
But back to the camera, or should that be the service? If you go for the Relonch 291 you will be, in one way, getting the camera for free. Instead you will be paying $99 per month for the service that the camera is entirely dependent on. That service is called Pictured Technology. It receives all your photos via an LTE (4G) mobile data connection. It then automatically massages them into shape digitally. In theory, you get an online portfolio of perfect photos without going anywhere near image processing software. To manage your account and view your photos you will use a Relonch app.
Pictured Technology image processing is, we’re told, clever enough to convert camera images like that on the left into results like that on the right
Simplicity is the name of the game here. The camera, appears to be a re-purposed Samsung Galaxy NX disguised in a stitched leather jacket. It has only one button; the shutter release, apart from the power switch. There is no rear screen (one of the more striking features of the Galaxy NX which had a massive 4.8 inch LCD). Thankfully, there is an electronic viewfinder and, if our hunch is correct, like the Samsung Galaxy NX, it will be an SVGA 800×600 pixel affair, which isn’t really cutting edge any more. The Galaxy NX also sported a 20 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor which is, presumably, shared with the Relonch 291.
A noticeable aspect of the launch news is the dearth of technical information about the hardware. It may be that Relonch aren’t keen to dwell on a set of specifications that betrays the camera’s three year old bones. That word, ‘bones’, is pretty apt, too, since the Galaxy NX was a commercial failure. Samsung, itself, killed off its camera division two years later. It doesn’t look like you can change lenses, which you could with the NX. In fact without any obvious controls it also appears that the Relonch 291 doesn’t even have a zoom lens.
Clearly, Relonch are gambling on the 291 becoming a must-have style accessory, a high-tech-low-tech fashion icon. The target audience has been identified as those who would like good photos but not have to think about the technical side of making them good. What we have here is a camera that should deliver much better quality photos than a smartphone, with even more simplicity. In many ways it will work like a smartphone camera, sending images to the cloud but your $99 a month pays for the premium photo processing service that Pictured Technology is being portrayed as being. Whether or not the extreme simplicity of the camera itself will be a hindrance or not remains to be seen. But Relonch have really taken ‘point-and-shoot” to its extreme.
Tell us what you think of the Relonch 291 and if it could tempt you to sign up for $99 a month.
Press release issued by Relonch:
Relonch Camera-as-a-Service Lets Members Have Remarkable Photos
World’s first camera-as-a-service model aims to deliver an experience that will make you reconsider how you capture everyday moments
PALO ALTO, CALIF., December 13, 2016 — Today, Relonch unveiled its camera-as-a-service at the company’s showroom located in the heart of Silicon Valley on downtown Palo Alto’s main drag. With the press of a single button, Relonch 291 takes photos that automatically upload to Relonch’s server over LTE for processing and distribution. This simple sequence solves for what Relonch refers to as the “chain of pain” associated with producing professional-looking images. You won’t need to fuss with confusing camera settings, tedious file downloads, manual image sorting and laborious photo editing.
“There’s nothing valuable about owning a camera that collects dust on the shelf or that you don’t know how to use” said Relonch co-founder Yuri Motin. “Our aim is to eliminate the countless complications associated with photography so we chose to create the camera as a service model rather than just hardware or software. Our service gives members the ability to solely focus on the experience, on the moment itself.”
Do you want to try it? Sign up for a three-day test drive by visiting the showroom. If you’re already a believer, register online to become a member. The service will be available globally in 2018 and includes:
- a camera that is preset to take great photos;
- an algorithm-based approach to developing photos called Pictured Technology; and
- a mobile application for receiving and storing your Relonch images.
CEO and co-founder of Relonch Sergey Korzhenevich explains, “Even high-end cameras tend to disappoint most people because pictures rarely capture what they actually saw. Relonch members could be camera savvy but don’t need to be because our preset camera and Pictured Technology takes care of everything.”
Pictured Technology is the Relonch approach to photo processing. Every object within a frame is processed independently based on the company’s professionally edited photo stacks and algorithms. Members will see a great difference between Relonch photos and ones where you apply a single filter to the entire photo. Given that lighting conditions are factored into the algorithms, photos actually look like what you pictured.
“The nuances associated with capturing outstanding photos make it hard for average photo enthusiasts to find true satisfaction. We know that will change if they switch to our camera-as-a-service model,” added co-founder Nikolay Babich. “All you need to do is believe that you can take remarkable photos of your everyday life and find value in the simplicity of our process—one-click, automatic upload, and next-day delivery of photos.”
The Relonch mobile application is where you’ll receive your processed photos. You’ll no longer need to sift through thousands of raw image files to find the best ones. Relonch will select and process your photos for you. Each morning, Relonch will directly deliver your best photos to the Relonch app. In addition, members will be able to select their favorite photo of the day to create a personal collection of your best 365 images, highlighting your life’s best moments over the course of the year.
Founded in New York City, Relonch, Inc. is reinventing the photography experience with the world’s first camera-as-a-service. Relonch has reduced the complexity of professional photography to a single shutter button. See more on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or in person at the company’s showroom.
Here is a gallery of Relonch product images as well as lifestyle and service example images.
Revealed! Image post processing: The development of a photograph from the camera through the post-processing to the final result, stage by stage
If you have ever wondered how an image that caught your eye started out, how the photographer made it the striking image you see through image post processing; this article aims to give you some insight. Do you have some great images you’d like to share with our readers with in the same way? Let us know!
The before and after view above demonstrates my thought when I had finished knocking this image into shape; it was so different to how it started out from the in-camera image I had snapped. It was very simple to do, talk a matter of minutes and didn’t even involve any cropping of the scene. I thought it would be fun to reveal what I did to obtain the effects I achieved. To find out what I did, stage by stage, click on the gallery thumbnails below:
A top tip for this kind of project is – experiment! Try the effects sliders, in both directions, though make a not of where the starting point was just in case. Don’t be afraid to wind back some of the effects later on if, combined with other applied later, they become to severe.
If you have a good example of a dramatic transformation from dull unprocessed camera image to eye-opening masterpiece, let us know and we’ll feature it in an article just like this.
It's a camera grip for your iPhone and it's called Pictar. It's not a new idea; we'll give that prize to Nokia with their camera/battery grip for the Windows Phone Lumia 1020 a couple of years ago, but MyMiggo has taken the idea and really developed it into a sophisticated photographers iPhone accessory.
Sigma has taken the wraps off three impressively large high-end lenses at Photokina and we went along to meet Sigma Imaging UK's product specialist, Paul Reynolds, to get the low down on them.
Have you ever dreamed of autofocusing your manual focus lenses? Well, now you can. All you need is one of a selection of supported Sony Alpha E-mount cameras, a Techart Pro adapter and, depending on the lens you want to use, a Leica M-mount adapter. This is what we discovered on our rounds of Photokina 20
Photokina 2016 was an opportunity for me to have a look at Nissin's new i60A flash unit. This is a high GN (60 ISO 200/200mm) fully-featured bounce/tilt flash unit that is unusually compact and low profile.
It's three years since Olympus launched its flagship OM-D E-M1 Micro Four Thirds camera and today at Photokina the E-M1 Mark II was launched. The new camera will ship before the end of this year. Journalists will get hands-on with evaluation units that are near enough production quality in early November. There are also two new Pro lenses, a super bright 25mm f/1.2 and a 12-100mm f/4 superzoom and a FL-900R flash.