Relonch: The Disenfranchised or Talent-Unleashing Photographer?

Interesting concept. Relonch. How many buttons, dials and menu functions has your mirrorless or DSLR? The Relonch has one button. One. How many shots you take are waste? Right, storage costs close to nothing, so what the heck. Relonch’s plan? If you want remarkable photos, you should pay for the photos. Not the camera. That’s the Relonch mantra. You pay $1 for a photo, says Relonch CEO Sergey Korzhenevich, that you might have been willing to pay $100 or even $1,000 for.

In fact, you pay $99 per month for their subscription plan. For that you get one button with a super-minimal, leather-wrapped camera (!) and a photo development service (!).

Relonch — unleash your talent!!

The camera — you might recognize the Samsung NX body in there — “has a large sensor and the right lens,” a 30mm F2, and the in-house Pictured Technology “applies the best settings for each object in the photo and takes lighting conditions into account.”

And you’ll end up paying $1,188 a year or $5,940 in five years or $11,880 in ten years for the button with added imaging package. Plain theft? Oh wait, you also get a monthly photo book. And there’s a second button, for power. And you can’t see the LCD screen because there is no LCD screen. Who doesn’t like this minimalism!

And the subscription plan is a kind of time-release photography approach, sort of slow photography:

You carry this camera around with you and snap photos that are instantly sent via 4G network to the Relonch servers, where the best of them are edited automatically and sent back to your smartphone the next morning. That’s the first time you actually get to see the photos you took. Film-days like delay, neat!

Judged from one’s high horse, why is this a deeply disturbing concept? I have nothing against the disenfranchisement of the photographer. Most camera apps we use are disenfranchising us. A camera’s auto settings are disenfranchising. Instagram is all about patronizing the photographer. Digital photography is more and more about pushing one button, algorithms do the rest, whether Relonch or not.

But blatantly telling us how, well, ignorant any photographer is, that’s some brash marketing approach. Relonch’s business model is explained with these sneaky catch phrases:

The high-end camera I bought just sits on the shelf
I take photos every day with my Relonch.

I still haven’t figured out the settings on my DSLR
Relonch has ONE BUTTON.

The camera I bought convinced me that I’m not a photographer
Relonch has unleashed my talent.

My big camera is bulky and unaesthetic
Relonch fits my style.

I sold my camera, because my photos looked lame without hours of adjusting
Relonch photos look the way I pictured them.

I have a massive photo dump that I never look through
Relonch keeps only the shots worth keeping.

Simply join Relonch. Hey there’s a great photographer inside you.

Pretty smart, isn’t it. Sure we have to be up in arms against such statements, as clichéd as they are. It hurts to be told what we all know holds some truth to it.

Relonch — there’s a great photographer in you!!!

The destruction of a photographer’s value goes on. Says Relonch:

You’ll never ever again have to think about choosing and buying the right camera, adjusting your favorite photos, having a powerful computer to store and adjust photos, regularly reviewing your shots to delete the bad ones and pick the good ones, subscribing to Lightroom to catalog and adjust photos, regularly downloading RAW images from an SD card or figuring out camera modes and settings.

No more of all this. Ain’t that neat. All AI-driven. With a — have to admit — cool looking fixed-lens leather cam.

Relonch’s photography style? Pepped up contrast and saturation with the usual vignetting everyone seems to suddenly like.

Sadly, this probably is the future of photography.

Wait, the future will be the one-buttoned jack of all trades selfie cam.

  • Dariano Bisotnik

    unless Relonch can reinvent itself every couple of months with the latest hipster trend, I see it as a non-starter :-/
    What can this camera do that your phone can’t, apart from screaming “look at me”?

  • Well it’s a kind of Leica Instagram…

  • Curious concept, but I think it won’t be that successfull, mostly because of the price.
    I find it curious because basically you are “forced” to keep shooting pictures, since you have (almost) no idea if you nailed the shot (though it has an evf, therefore WYSIWYG).
    A bit sad that someone or something is going to choose the best shots and will edit them randomly. Or at its “taste”.
    I forsee many pictures sent on smartphones that simply will be deleted when received.

    The cover looks nice, but once dirt it will look messy.

    Someone might experience the same feelings of surprise and pleasure in the wait by using a cheap disposable film camera, and having the photos printed and scanned. For a lower price.

  • At this price point it will certainly fail.

    Creative way though trying to get rid of unsold Samsung NX stock.

    Reminds me of Hasselblad’s Lunar stuff.

  • Brian

    Just buy a Polaroid SX70 Sonar and use Impossible film.

  • Those “Hasselblads” were just an attempt to make “easy” money. The result was ugly: I think the Italian design company that thought the new aspect of the cameras actually never used or saw a nice looking camera..

    This is a little bit different, since the cover is there just to prevent the photographer from using other buttons. And it looks nice, at least until it’s clean.

    The price is high, but what I can’t understand is why someone should ruin the experience of shooting in this way. I mean, I take loads of photos because I payed for them, I will receive some of them the day after on my smartphone: what if I want to see something earlier? What if I want to add some “art” or my personal touch to the photos? Where are stored images that flies to the Cloud and then processed?
    If it was an experiment, I would have welcome it.
    If it was something that somehow could bring some form of education, I would have welcome it.
    But it’s probably as you say, a way to get rid of the good old Samsung NX cameras forgotten in some warehouse: a sad destiny, they were not that bad and deserved something better maybe.