Digital photography fans should be no stranger to Leica, manufacturer of high-performance, albeit expensive cameras. While optics are the bread-and-butter of any camera, there’s no denying the role that digital processing has come to take. An intriguing concept design, the Leica i9, attempts to reexamine that boundary between the two sides, using Leica camera components alongside an Apple iPhone 4.
The iPhone, with its Retina Display, is an obvious choice for a smartphone whose screen is born to display photographs. Combined with its processing power and the availability of so many image-manipulation apps in the App Store, it’s all but demanding to be part of this project.
Leica’s cameras are known for their reliability year-after-year, but smartphones have a far shorter lifespan. The designers who came up with the i9 had this in mind, because the camera’s rear dock is itself replaceable, ensuring compatibility with future iPhone releases.
Even though it’s a fully-functional camera, the i9 is still an iPhone case of sorts, and would give you all the same access to the phone’s controls as cheap a silicon sleeve. Speaking of price, though giving the digital camera a consumer-supplied smartphone “brain” keeps costs down, a Leica is a Leica, and if this concept ever made it to market, it could fetch from $900 to $1200.