The Leica i9 Concept – VERY interesting indeed!

So last night I start getting e-mails flooding my inbox about this Leica i9 concept camera that has been posted online by Black Design Associates. I took a look and it appears there has been quite a bit of thought put into this thing! The i9 would combine your Iphone 4 with a fixed Leica lens rangefinder system.

Just sliding the phone in to the back of this camera body would activate it and you would be ready to rock with dedicated aperture dials, a light meter, and a flash. The camera back opens like a film door and is interchangeable, so when a new Iphone is released, a new back would be as well. Interesting idea with a target price of $1200, but again, this is all fantasy and concept. Fun to see someone putting some work into this though. Besides, this could be the future of cameras! Who would buy one of these if it were available? I have to admit, it looks gorgeous!

Be sure to read all about it HERE.


  1. How about giving this concept a chance? One thing’s for sure, what Leica is to cameras, Apple is to computers, so this could be a match made in heaven. I just hope if this project comes to fruition that Leica does not dumb down the build quality and materials like they have with many of their recent cameras. Other than that, the only critique I can say about this prototype is that the viewfinder is too small. Maybe Leica can borrow a page from the X100’s viewfinder.

  2. Any technology that relies on another company’s technology is, in my opinion, a very bad idea. Apple changes their design and you’re locked into the ‘old’ iPhone??? And, as reported this morning with the white iPhone being a ‘little’ thicker than the published specs!!!
    Hmmm, I’m not a fan of the aesthetics of this effort but should Apple decide to buy Leica…..

  3. I’m in !!!!!! What a concept. Love the iPhone and love the Leica. But what would this concept camera do to the new and used Leica market. By bringing in more consumers prices go up and Leica gear becomes even harder to get. Having a hard enough time getting lenses as it is and still cannot land a 50 Lux due to backorders.

    With a trickle down effect of buying an M9 with several lenses then an M7 myself, would this open Leica up to larger consumer demand for Leica gear. My passion led me from digital to film. So each new i9 owner could concievably buy an i9 and maybe a M9 or film Leica and a lens or two. Demand could go through the roof. Even with the M9 for a few months people allways ask about the camera and then OHHHHH thats why your photos look so different. Its not you its the camera. Difficult explaining that its both so the answer is usually “Yes it is the camera”. With out fail the next comment is allways where can I get one. Then the balk occurs when you start mentioning price. But a few still consider the investment.

    There is allways concern about the life span of film. Maybe such a concept seen to production could help film last even longer. This is only an amateurs opinion but I would by one in a heart beat. Would take care of my desire to get to an all in one device, not that I would not still tote around the M9 or M7 and a lens or two but WOW.

  4. The designers, it seems, are using their creativity to conceive a new kind of convergence device. I can imagine an implementation in which the “camera body” contains the optics, controls and sensor. Meanwhile, the iPhone handles the processing, storage and display. It would seem, too, that the phone and camera body could be separated from one another at any given time.

    For those of us who don’t like being without a camera, this may be an interesting concept. I think it’s an intriguing idea.

  5. Sorry, but it does absolutely nothing for me. Actually, I think it looks quite hideous.

  6. Dont care too much about the literal concept, however I think camera makers should take cues from Apples interface design (i.e. simple touch screen menus with icons for easy navigation) and try to incorporate the same into their products. This is one area where I feel that there is a lot of room for camera makers to innovate, and where, frankly, a fresh approach is urgently required.

  7. There is an “Ugliest Camera” thread on rangefinderforum that this thing is begging to join.

    • I agree, not to mention that most iPhone users would never buy this as everybody knows iPhones/instragram duet take better pictures than any camera, including phase ones

  8. Looks cool, futuristic and posh. To sum up, it will not sell as it’s not making anything easier, its pretty much a cheaper, lower quality M9 with a removable screen, imagine how annoying it would be to be getting SMS, calls while trying to shoot some photos.

  9. I think this is a great concept. Very innovative and useful for photographers who want to upload high quality photos to social networking sites or blogs. The retro design is beautiful and stays true to Leica style. I applaud the designer/team that created this concept. It is clear that a lot of work and detail were involved. The i9 is visually stimulating and definitely something I would be interested in.

  10. I don’t understand why this is attractive to anyone. It was obviously designed by someone who doesn’t know anything about the M9 besides that it looks pretty.

    1. Why does it have a film rewind knob? There is absolutely no reason a point and shoot camera would need this. It wouldn’t be a stretch to have a film ADVANCE lever on a digital M because you could use it to cock the shutter, but this doesn’t leave room for an actual shutter, and there is nothing to rewind. It is a useless vestigial part, which is not good efficient design.
    2. What is that second window? A flash? It surely isn’t a rangefinder light window as there is no third window for the focusing patch. It couldn’t be the patch itself as it is much too large (bigger than the viewfinder itself).
    3. Even if it was a rangefinder, you can’t have a focusing tab or aperture dial on a telescoping lens. Maybe you could, and some clever designer could figure it out, but presenting that clever design that seems feasible would actually be interesting instead of saying “look, here are two devices you love COMBINED for some reason.”
    4. If made the dials and settings all touch based, congratulations, you have turned the most recognized manual setting digital camera into a Sony point and shoot for some reason.
    5. This does nothing a wifi equipped SD card can’t do. You take the picture, it beams to your phone, you edit it and post it to a plethora of social networks. It does it in a different way, but doesn’t have ability to do something especially well.
    6. The space between the phone and lens leaves room for only a tiny sensor. The device would have to be much thicker or suffer from flat uninteresting images with poor high iso performance.


    • .
      Tyson: your point number 1: “Why does it have a film rewind knob?” ..You’ve got it in one! Here’s the 6 megapixel APS-sensor Cosina-built Epson R-D1 (Rangefinder-Digital 1 camera)..

      [img] features.jpg[/img]

  11. if someone could just upgrade those dmrs to m9 sensors? always thought the r9 + upgradable back was a fantastic concept. so do leaf etc!

  12. To each there own… But this does nothing for me and seems like something only a materialistic person would purchase.

    I see no connection between a “Leica” camera controlled by an iphone and anything that has come out of Leica in their history….

    What could this $1200 camera do that something for much less money not do?

    • Nick, there is absolutely nothing that camera can do that most couldn’t do better, but its just interesting to see people try new and innovative things even if its just for the fun of it.

      I think its the price tag that throws a person. It makes it seem like it would actually go into production at some point, which most likely its won’t. Its just a design team furthering their portfolio and helping them to get clients that want innovative ideas, thats all.

      • I understand the need for a design team to produce innovative products and improve their portfolio, but I just don’t think attaching a iPOD to something makes it innovative, creative, or automatically better than current products.

        Its a touch screen point and shoot camera… There are plenty of those on the market. Worst of all, the length of the iPOD makes this thing look like a brick, and in conjunction with a lens, its no longer pocketable as a camera or phone.

        I mean whats next a iPOD controlled toaster? Taking two name brands with strong name brand recognition and plastering them together in a product is not innovative, creative, or attractive.

        Thats of course is just my opinion. I’m not sure why I care so much to even respond, but I guess I just think this “design” is really silly.

        • Haha your right it definitely does not mean two great things together will extrapolate into something awe-inspiring but that toaster you mentioned is probably already in the works!

  13. haha…brilliant….

    just been toying with my much under-used 135mm tele-elmar v1….god it’s good…same signature/quality as my 90mm elmarit 2.8

    cost me £90….

  14. Leica with a zoom lens and zooming viewfinder. Done. Here’s my dosh ..oh, wait: it’s a 5 megapixel smartphone with a clip-on Leica-brand zoom lens costing $1200 (for the zoom and pretty trim).

    Ah, no.. it’s a 12.1 megapixel zooming compact Leica, which transfers its pics directly to the iPhone 4. Like an X1, but with a zooming lens. Just, in fact, what the X1 should have been it plays your music and you can instantly send your photos by phone.. Yup; here’s my dosh; send it round by DHL, please..

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