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Cambits: A Reconfigurable Camera System

Cambit pieces

Cambit pieces can be assembled to create a dozen different imaging systems.

Credit: Alexander Berg

The cameras in our phones and tablets have turned us all into avid photographers, regularly using them to capture special moments and document our lives. One notable feature of camera phones is they are compact and fully automatic, enabling us to point and shoot without having to adjust any settings. However, when we need to capture photos of high aesthetic quality, we resort to more sophisticated DSLR cameras in which a variety of lenses and flashes can be used interchangeably. This flexibility is important for spanning the entire range of real-world imaging scenarios, while enabling us to be more creative.

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Many developers have sought to make these cameras even more flexible through both hardware and software. For example, Ricoh's GXR camera has interchangeable lens units, each with a different type of sensor.12 Some manufacturers make their cameras more flexible through application program interfaces (APIs) developers then use to control various camera parameters and create new image-processing tools. For example, Olympus's Open Platform Camera, released in 2015, can be controlled via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.8 And at the high-performance end of the camera market, RED offers a modular camera with interchangeable parts, including lenses, battery packs, and broadcast modules.10 Although they provide some level of flexibility, such cameras are limited in the types and quality of images they are actually able to produce.


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