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February 21, 2006

Rolleiflex MiniDigi Digital Camera


The company which developed the famous Rollei 6x6cm Twin Reflex Camera in Germany in the 1920s has finally given in — after a fashion — and caught the wave of digital photography.

They've created their first digital camera, the Rollei MiniDigi, pictured above and below.

It attempts to incorporate as many design elements from the classic as possible while producing digital photos.

That's all well and good, we like throwbacks here.

Now it gets interesting.

Wallpaper* magazine, in its latest (March) issue, created a new class of awards, "Products that failed," to accompany its annual "Best Of" citations.

They awarded one of their new booby prizes to the Rollei MiniDigi.

Wrote Paul B. Brown in Sunday's New York Times: "The magazine... hated the Rolleiflex MiniDigi camera, which has a 'film advance' lever,' [below]


even though there is no film. Form and function passing like ships in the night."


In Rollei's (weak?) defense, the lever does have a real function: according to the website, "A turn of this crank readies the camera for the next shot."

It seems to me that here we're more on philosophical ground than that of design, though both ultimately rest on theories of the world and are, in a sense, simply alternative ways of approaching and embracing that world.

The reality each of us lives in is the fallout of our internal state mixing with those of everyone else to produce the 3–D rendering we make our way through for the time allotted to our individual consciousness.

So the question of whether the Rolleiflex MiniDigi "film advance" lever is absurd or paradoxically visionary (I believe McLuhan and Wittgenstein would have a grand old time with this subject — can you imagine how popular Marshall McLuhan's blog would be?) is, I believe, in the end a word puzzle, as Wittgenstein termed so many philosophical debates.


What is "film?"

In a functional sense, not the classic one.

If used loosely (very), to signify anything that records an image, then our brains are film–based, aren't they?

Something to consider when you play back a memory, whether of a movie or a scene from your life.

Same viewing screen, isn't it?


The Rollie MiniDigi costs $269.95.

In October of 1946 Karl Popper arrived at Cambridge to lecture at a seminar hosted by Ludwig Wittgenstein.

What happened in that room has become the stuff of philosophical legend, culminating in a wonderful book published in 2002 entitled "Wittgenstein's Poker."

Did Wittgenstein, as some witnesses attest, actually get so angry at what Popper was saying that he got up and threatened the great man with a fireplace poker?"

It's possible.

You don't have to know a philosophical hawk from a handsaw to enjoy this hugely entertaining book.


Used copies at Amazon start at $1.40 — that's a lot of bang for the buck+.

February 21, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink


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I wonder - could not using the "advance" lever allow for multi-exposure images, deliberate or not?

Posted by: John Anderson | Feb 22, 2006 10:23:30 PM

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