And why I can no longer review their cameras …
So here’s a project close to my heart. This is not the first post about the Pixii camera on this blog and it won’t be the last.
The young company has decided that modernity can mean different things to different people. And, while most of the market has hopped onto a purely quantitative race to more more more (pixels, frames per second, ISO, you name it) that has already claimed the lives of very loveable companies, the team at Pixii feel modernity should also rhyme with joy of use, quality, sustainability and personal expression.
Rather than build yet another powerhouse camera to which you delegate all decisions, letting it do the work for you, they decided to design one that puts the user in the driver’s seat and provides the most help to stimulate flow, creates wonferful colours and superb tonality, and make the shooting experience as rewarding as possible. They understand the distinction between results and reward : we think we want the former, when in fact we need the latter!
Given that their body won the prestigious Red Dot Award for design, and that purist photographers all over the world have gone gaga about the image quality proposed by this little beast, it’s fair to say they are succeeding.
The Pixii was inspired by film cameras, and I feel that shows up in its use and in the look of the images produced.
The design team goes for beautiful over neutral. For tactile over gimmicky. And for deliberate over hasty. They want us to become better at what we do, not simply achieve great results through technology’s undeniable boosting of our shooting envelope. I wholeheartedly agree, being in this hobby for the pure joy of creating beautiful visual objects, rather than for collecting snaps. And, judging by the huge resurgence of film photography, many, many others think alike.
All this to explain why I like this camera so much, but also why I can no longer talk about that 😉 From this point on, no subjective assessments from me, it will only be news and facts. Here’s why.
Pixii has asked me to help with its communications, for the launches of new features that will happen during the second half of this year, starting towards the end of June. I’ll be working alongside a cool youtuber (who will soon announce this himself on his channel).
The collaboration makes sense, given that marketing and photography make up so much of my passion and expertise. But, still, thanks for the vote of confidence, guys.
Anyway, now, I’m involed in the project, so it wouldn’t be ethical for me to rave about the camera or the team, and I will only state facts and inform you of news and features in future posts.
It bugs me not to be able to say more, right now. As I hinted to before, the projects and timeline are refreshingly different. But it won’t be long before fun news this way comes, by the clicking of their
So, for now, let’s stick to an exposition of Pixii’s founding principles and positioning. This can also serve as a refresher for those who do not yet know what the Pixii camera is.
Think software inside a traditional rangefinder camera, and that’s a good start. And, by traditional, I mean film. So, yeah, no rear screen, for example. That might might seem like heresy, today, and Leica was poked with cruel intensity for daring to do something similar, a few years ago. But go and take a stroll on Fleabay avenue, to look at the price of used (and often unrepairable in case of failure) film rangefinder cameras. Shock, right? 4 grand for a (brilliant, brilliant, brilliant) Mamiya 7 and lens, for example. You’ll see that style of shooting is well alive (and for a reason).
Even single-lens film cameras will set you back three large, these days. Such is the desire for creative self-expression, to reclaim the decision process and understand the fundamentals of photography. Their owners want to win some and to lose some, rather than sift through hundred of automated candidates in search of … of what? They want to feel pride of camera ownership and pride of image crasftmanship. It’s one thing to bring back great photos from a great camera, but it’s a whole other degree of satisfaction to know you did it on purpose and can do it at will. Such is the reason for owning a niche camera like the Pixii. It brings image-crafting back to the fore, keeps you in the right state of mind, and rewards you with fantastic tone and colours.
That trad body uses M-mount. So, it is designed for Leica-M lenses, and the wealth of droolworthy alternatives from Voigtlander, Jupiter and more. Really designed: its filter stack is less than 1mm thick, meaning those lenses will actually work well, even in the corners. Below that stack is a Sony APS-C 26Mp sensor, that natively feels at home between 160 and 12800 ISO, and can be pushed outside this comfort zone if you have very veeeeeery special needs (in the film world, ISO 800 is the usual max. 3200 if you’re nuts). In the Pixii, this sensor scored 90 on DxO, if such things matter to you. Apparently, that’s the most any APS-C camera has ever scored, and it puts it quite close to the top of all cameras tested, medium format included. This, to say all this qualitative love doesn’t come at the expense of shooting envelope or mastery of modern stats (DR, ISO …), should you actually need those one day.
The modernity part of the Pixii promise comes in many ways.
Foremost among them is upgradability. In 2020, Philippe and I tested an early version with 11 mp, and very slow electronics. Since then, the sensor – on that same camera – is a state of the art Sony, and the electronics and software have received a heathy speed and capacity boost. So, in essence, you buy a body today, and it will get upgraded in the future. New sensors, new processors, new firmware … No more selling your expensive body at 35% its original cost after 2 years to finance the new one. Also, no more piles of hard to recycle litter, either. In this age, this matters.
Another form of modernity is coupling with a supercomputer. I mean something 1000 times more powerful than Cray-2 supercomputers: your smartphone.
The camera can be coupled to your phone via BlueTooth (slow, good for jpegs), WiFi (much faster, where possible) or via a tethering cable (fastest, good for full-size RAWs). The dedicated app lets you visualise your shots on a much nicer screen than any camera offers today, at any price, and can send your photos to editing tools of your preference. It can also be used to set all parameters on your cameras, to keep it’s body free from the horrific button/menu systems we’ve been inflicted by the usual suspects 😉
There’s more: the rangefinder displays information overlays, in a sort of heads-up windscreen display, images are stored in an internal flash memory (over 3000 pics of memory in their heaviest format) … It’s just different and fresh. It’s for you, or it isn’t (battery life isn’t incredible, for instance, nor is internal processing speed, yet, though both are ample for the target audience), but it delights the people it was created for. So, I’ll leave it at this and will simply report on future news, as they come along. In the mean time, you can check all of this out here.
Just a few days ago, marketing guru in chief Seth Godin wrote this on his daily blog : “Marketing is … a chance to create products and services that lead to change.” Well, that’s our joint mission with Pixii. And judging by the incredible photography already on show on their user groups on Facebook and Instagram, it’s well on its way!
Stay tuned 🙂
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