No screen, no flash, no settings, no SD card: Relonch, a $99-per-month APS-C fixed lens camera and photo editing service currently in beta, sounds like a whole lot of nope right off the bat. But its creators think they’ve found a way to bring better photography to the masses.
If Relonch sounds familiar, you might be remembering the prototype iPhone case that held an APS-C image sensor that the company unveiled at Photokina 2014. What became a photo editing app fed into the latest concept, a ‘camera as a service.’
That camera is the Relonch 291, a 20MP APS-C camera ‘based on Samsung Galaxy NX technology’ with a fixed prime lens. It offers just one shooting mode, and button: the shutter release. There’s no way to save photos directly from the camera – what Relonch does offer is a 4G connection to automatically transfer captured images to its server and uses AI to select what it deems to be the best images and processes them. Edited images are transferred back to the user via a mobile app the next day.
The company hopes to make Relonch available globally in 2018. Until then, the service is in beta testing as its processing algorithms are refined. In the meantime, if you’re in Palo Alto you can visit their showroom to try one out for three days. If you like what you see, you can ‘reserve’ Relonch now for $99 (fully refundable), but you’ll be looking at a wait until at least mid 2018.
Fast Company’s Emily Price took one for a spin and found some aspects of the experience appealing, but was ultimately disappointed when photos didn’t meet Relonch’s AI’s quality standards. There’s also an argument to be made about cost – over the course of a year Relonch will cost its user $1200. For that kind of money, you can be the proud owner of a really nice APS-C camera. But that may be beside the point for Relonch’s target audience.
Is this something you would consider recommending to your friends and family who find ‘professional’ cameras too intimidating? Let us know what you think.