Olympus AIR A01 open source smartphone camera

olympus air a01Smartphone cameras get better every year but they’ll never be the favourite of ‘real’ photographers – just as MP3s won’t ever make the grade for audiophiles. Olympus are following Sony in creating a camera which works with your mobile – the Olympus Air A01 Smartphone Camera.

The Olympus Air A01 has been designed to work in conjunction with your smartphone, the latter serving as the viewfinder and the former bringing its 16 megapixel Live MOS Micro Four Thirds sensor, as well as its own on-board Micro SD card so you’re not eating away at your phone’s storage. You also get eight companion apps for a variety of shooting situations, a fast AF system, and compatibility with a host of lenses.

All this being made available in phone-matching white or black.

This all sounds quite familiar territory if you have read anything about the Sony QX10. Even the price is similar at around £220 for body only and £330 for the kit, which comes with either an electronic or manual Zuiko 14-42mm lens.

Where the Sony QX1 is an Alpha 5000 without the screen, the Air A01 seems to be pretty much a stripped back PEN E-PL7 both having the same sensor and TruePic VII processor. Where Olympus differs to the Sony device is that it is making its SDK available to external developers as part of the OPC Hack & Make Project.

air a01As it stands, there are eight apps that offer some fun and interesting features but nothing that would ever be classed as being groundbreaking:

  • OA.Genius takes six different versions of the same photo in one go (a bit like Canon’s Creative Shot)
  • OA.ArtFilter provides creative filters
  • OA.ColourCreator allows you to adjust colours
  • OA.PhotoStory offers the same functionality as Olympus’ Photo Story app
  • OA.ModeDial, which simulates PSAM modes
  • OA.Clips to record and edit short videos
  • OA.Viewer for photo editing
  • OA.Central for wireless use of the Olympus Air app (Wi-Fi)

With the SDK being made available there is definitely scope for more weird, wonderful and, hopefully, useful apps to make an appearance later.

I guess that the next step would be to go from open sourcing the software, to developing a fully open source camera that could be build to your own personal specifications.

EquinoxIt seems that this is where the people behind the Equinox project (above) sees the future and it looks like the Olympus Air A01 is heading in that direction too. Hopefully, you’ll soon be able to choose your sensor, mount system, viewfinder and design individually.

What do you think? Has the Air A01 and QX10 got a place in the market or are these the first steps to open source cameras?

Let me know below 🙂

Thanks to Roy for giving the heads up on the Olympus Air A01