“Cyber-shot” T series designers and engineers have for some time focused on two ideals—packing advanced features into a compact body, and creating slim, stylish devices. This commitment has given us one unprecedented camera after another and led to innovative answers to the question of what the ultimate in unconventional cameras should be like. See how the designers arrived at two new models that set the tone for T series styling.
Yamada:Concentrating cutting-edge functions into a limited space and seeking streamlined styling have been guiding concepts in the T series, and we have always introduced something new to appreciate about these cameras. Another key T series design concept has been to avoid a "cameralike" appearance dominated by the lens in favor of uncameralike styling. You'll notice two facets to their appearance, which varies depending on whether they're in use or not—if they are, the lens peeks out at you, and if not, the surfaces look pristine.
This particular project began by pursuing a question to its logical conclusion: What would the ultimate in uncameralike design be like? What we arrived at, through this process, were the ultimate in slimness in the TX55 and a new, wireless user experience in the TX300V.
T series body dimensions depend to some extent on the lens size, so our story began with the development of a compact lens. If we were content with offering the world's slimmest camera, we would have ended up with a plain, card-like device. How could we bring this petite canvas to life and leave it with a stylish signature? I invited Noriaki to explore this question of design while the lens was being developed.
Takagi:Flat surfaces have dominated the T series to date, but the TX55 is graced by gentle curves. With the concept of surface tension in mind, we created a pleasant sense of tension through the taut-looking curved surfaces and the edges, which make the 12.2 mm body look even slimmer.
As you can see, the lens cover is flush with the body when closed, and when you're ready to shoot, you slide the cover open over the body. Having a lens cover slide over a rounded body is tricky, but Kenzo and our engineers worked very hard to make it happen.
It's relatively easy to create the sleek, solid shapes you see in audio players or mobile phones. I must admit, though, it's harder than it seems to incorporate a sliding mechanism over gently curved surfaces. I'm thrilled that our uncompromising attention to design was recognized with a world-renowned iF Gold Award.
A key point in styling was the contrast between the curvy surfaces and sharp-looking edges. Although the gently curved surfaces may seem easy to design, they required careful control over the curved inner surface of the lens cover, so that the cover slides open and shut smoothly.
Our repeated trial and error here involved grinding the stamped aluminum, testing it, grinding it again, and so on. We were striving for a precision on the level of 0.05 mm, and we found ourselves going back and forth with our engineers. It was truly like threading a needle. When we had finally perfected the curvature, it consisted of spline curves that could never have been defined mathematically. It took quite a few prototypes just to design the front.
The TX55 is constructed of a single piece of aluminum for rigidity, without an internal frame, which enabled us to make it that much slimmer. This structure itself was also developed to make the TX55 extremely slim.
We were as careful in camera details as we were in our repeated attempts to slim down the body. The zoom lever is machined aluminum, and the front Cyber-shot logo is subtly tinted. Attention to these details makes the TX55 an even more polished camera.
Watanabe:We chose deep, nuanced body colors, in pursuit of coloring that enhances the alluring contrast between gentle surfaces and crisp edges created by the elegant shapes.
Initially we considered revealing a different color or glossiness on other parts when you open the cover, but we decided that presenting the natural beauty of this bar of metal directly would, with the beautiful contours, convey a luxuriousness and elegance that complements women who hold the TX55 . Working with Yui Yamaoka, who also contributed in color and material design for this project, I imagined in detail the kind of women's character the camera would bring out, and how to express these traits in a range of color options.
After this, we used abrasive blasting for the surfaces, which not only helps create the right coloring but also the desired texture and matte finish. During fabrication, we adjust the aluminum finish by soaking the pieces in a chemical solution. Changing the soaking time ever so slightly radically alters the color and texture, so our rather lavish production process requires strict control over this time and selection of only those pieces that are closest to the ideal image. I think we succeeded in choosing the perfect colors for this model by considering the pure interplay of shapes and colors.
Yokozeki:Interchangeability is generally important in accessories, but I recommended making a camera case especially for the TX55 to accentuate its slimness. A highlight of the T series is that in an instant, you're ready to shoot with style. This led me to think along the lines of a case that wraps around it, much like a cover wraps around a notepad. Slip the elastic band off, and you're immediately ready to shoot, holding the case as you would a camera grip.
Some camera cases can be used to hold cameras while shooting, but after I considered simplifying this kind of case by eliminating all of the mechanisms you have to deal with before shooting, I decided that the structure of a notepad cover would be easier to use. The case looks stylish whether you're pulling it out of a bag or just carrying the camera around in it, just like some chic stationery accessory.