Focus group: the snappy minis redefining a new camera culture

Light L16 black camera
Despite our increasing reliance on the capable cameras on our phones, new and improved shooting technology in photo-specific devices is blooming
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Although humanity takes something like a trillion photographs every year, the overwhelming majority of these are snapped on our smartphones; only professionals and enthusiasts keep the ‘real’ camera market alive. Digital photography gets ever sophisticated, yet the best point and shoot is still no substitute for the camera in your pocket.

The industry’s next step is to mine the niches. Retro-styled premium cameras have been all the rage for a few years, but new specialisations are emerging.

The Light L16 might look like a trypophobic’s nightmare, but that curious design brings together 16 camera sensors, packed horizontally into the slim body to give a mobile-like form-factor with DSLR power. Powerful algorithms stitch the various images together, giving you massive control over your image, as well as depth of field and focus correction in post-production. The L16 is being crowd-funded now, as is the proposed TinyMOS, a compact camera designed for astrophotography, but other products are already out there.

The DxO ONE plugs in to your iPhone giving you a better lens, bigger sensor and bespoke software to transform an already capable device into a brilliant one.

If you want to do something right, perhaps one device can’t do it all.

black Light L16 digital camera

Like here, in the L16, the first multi-aperture computational camera. This super-compact model from Light makes it easy for anyone to take DSLR-quality images

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Light L16 front design

Living up to its namesake, it is small and light enough to fit in your pocket. Light’s new technology combines traditional folded optics with modern, sophisticated imaging algorithms to deliver the highest quality images, without the bulky casing

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miniature TinyMOS camera

The miniature TinyMOS is gem of a device, currently in the prototype stages of production. It will be available for crowdfunding later in the year

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camera lenses

Designed by students from the University of Singapoor, it is aimed to capture pictures like no other, specialising in lunar-photography, available thanks to the camera’s excellent image quality in low-light situations

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Tiny 1 lenses

The Tiny 1 is designed with both portability and powerful imaging in mind, prooving that space exploration doesn’t have to be for astronauts and those with high-powered telescopes

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DXO 1 camera

The DXO 1 approaches things slightly differently, choosing to embrace our reliance on mobile phone cameras, creating a high powered, professional quality iPhone camera attachment

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DXO 1 camera attached to phone

With 20.2 megapixels at your disposal, in a miniature, 33mm package, it is less bulky than lens-style attachment competitors, and just as powerful

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DXO 1 camera selfie

Also, it has its own memory card and battery so it won’t drink up your iPhone’s valuable battery life, or soak up its memory space

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For more information on each of the featured cameras, visit the Light website, the DXO website, and the TinyMOS website

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.