What if Steve Jobs was the CEO of a Camera Company?

Suppose Apple hadn’t abandoned its digital camera business. What effect would Steve Jobs and his team have had on the cameras we use today? Photo enthusiast Karim Ghantous thought about this recently, and came up with the following list of things he thinks Jobs might have pushed for.

  • Filter threads would have died out 20 years ago
  • There would be no under-performing lenses and all would have neutral or pleasant bokeh.
  • DSLRs would not have an LCD on the top panel.
  • Professional DSLRs would have fewer features (e.g. no ‘art’ filters etc.). They would allow third-party software ‘applets’ for such things but the applets would never be allowed to move, delete or modify captured images, nor would they be allowed to interfere with the camera’s controls.
  • Pro bodies would have always had dual SD card slots.
  • Lenses would allow manual focus and zoom but would not have aperture rings (as is the case now)
  • Materials used for construction would be chosen on the basis of best suitability. Plastic would not be shunned by default but not used for the sake of cost-cutting; transparent ceramics might be used as well.
  • No more 3:2 aspect ratio. All sensors would be 4:3 with optional 16:9 mode.

What do you think a Jobs-led camera manufacturer would promote?

Image credit: Steve Jobs by marcopako  and Quicktake by Redjar

  • Patti B

    Cameras would have one button, and no controls at all.

    You would only be able to take photos of things that Apple allowed you to shoot.  You couldn’t take pictures of nudity, sex, or anything Apple found offensive.

    Apple would take a 30% commission on any photo that you sold.

  • Anonymous

    How about who gives a _____?

    Honestly I already get more than my fill of Apple This, Apple That on literally every other blog on the planet.  I’d rather not see random how-can-we-get-an-apple-perspective-on-this-total-non-apple-subject trend on Petapixel as well.

  • Anonymous

    I think some of the points have legs, but I think the last one (4:3 ratio) baseless.  4:3 is a very boxy, very uninteresting frame.  2:3 is much more pleasing, 16:9 is even better, and for those who want to go crazy, letterbox is the bomb.  

    Not sure Apple could really cut it in the camera business, at least not on the pro/DSLR side.  It’s a huge, long-term commitment – likely one which even Apple isn’t capable of.

  • Roger

    There would be two levels of cameras (pro and consumer) and two choices for each level.

  • deegolden on twitter

    By now the camera would be producing 3D holographic images!

  • Calgary Photographer

    It would look like something Dieter Rams designed in the 60s.


    Apple never abandoned their plans to make digital camera. They are making them today. its call the iPHONE. hehehe

  • Brett Gaddy

    cmon. have some standards petapixel. this article doesn’t make any sense. writing about apple just to get more readers just makes your current readers feel like idiots for reading your site. at least i feel like an idiot…

  • F32foto

    this is the most honest and realistic answer anyone could have given.

  • JP Cubish

    They would be twice the price, with half the lifespan.

  • Anonymous

    And cameras would cost 150% of what a comparable non-Jobs camera costs.

  • Mjcrane

    The author of this article forgets that Steve Jobs did run a camera company. Many of his products (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, etc.) have a camera. The iPhone is one of the most used cameras on flickr and Facebook. Don’t forget about instagram as well. If those metrics don’t make Apple a camera company, I don’t know what would.

  • bob cooley

    In total agreement.  

    do we really need more fan-boi / anti-fan-boi articles on any subject? 

    If you don’t like Apple products, don’t buy them…  If you don’t like Canon, don’t buy one… Don’t like Nikon, pass ‘em by…

    Mr. Ghantous’ attempt at witticism here just lame – why is PetaPixel wasting their time with this?

  • Avaviel

    I’m starting to realize that this blog isn’t really that great, it’s just attempts to push buttons to get arguments going about cameras or copyright. It isn’t news, it’s just opinions of the blog that aren’t well thought out.

  • bob cooley

    That doesn’t make it a camera company, it makes it a consumer electronics company.

    Camera companies create optics, develop sensors, etc. Apple purchases those items and integrates them into their products.   For example, Micron makes the CCD sensor, Largan Precision makes the lens, etc.

    Nikon, Leica and Canon design and make their own optics, bodies, most of their sensors (though they do contract Sony to make some to their specifications). 

  • Is this really a question?

    -it would be a touch screen
    -it would be very compact
    -it would have a TON of ways to be used differently (apps)
    -it would cater to the biggest audience possible (simple, no pro line)
    -it would appeal to the networking masses
    -it would have low technical specs so that it could be “upgraded” every year to get people to want to buy it over and over

    It’s called an iPhone.

  • Railfan1975

    They wouldn’t use flash! ;)

  • Anthony Burokas

    If they made a camera… it’d have a non-user changeable battery. Internal memory that you specified (& paid for when ordering the camera) and that was it… it’d tout interoperability but that really meant interoperability with Apple products. And while today’s camera let you spit out a memory card to dump images… the iCam would eschew that for the “speed” and “convenience” of a wired connection for all synching. Oh, and if you wanted to dump one image to quickly e-mail it… the software would insist on backing up the entire camera first.

  • Scott Z

    Ha, what?!

    1. Apple would have made their own style of filter thread, patent it, and then sue everyone who used it.
    2. There wouldn’t be an underperforming lens because there would only be one lens. It would be called the iLens, and they’d convince everyone that it’s the only lens they would ever need.
    3. LCDs on the top are so terrible? Since when?
    4. Running apps on a camera means having an entire Operating System to run the apps with. No one wants to wait 45 seconds for their camera to turn on.
    5. Why would pro bodies always have Dual SD slots? They do not even allow for memory card use with their current devices.
    6. Materials used for construction would be whatever the hell they can get made for cheap in China.
    7. 4:3 is a shitty aspect ratio. Remove 3:2? What nonsense. We are already overrun with Hipster kids.

    If Steve Jobs was allowed to make ultimate decisions like the ones listed, the entire world would be one gigantic indie rock show.

  • Dave D

    5 second shutter lag would mean the end of sports photography.

  • Frank

    Whatever you think of Apple, to think they’re not capable of a huge, long-term commitment… remember that this is the world’s most valuable company. By definition, if any company could enter the pro/D-SLR camera business with a long-term commitment, it would be Apple, with $75 billion in cash. Honestly, at this point, Apple has the money to enter any business they wish.

    That said, it’s very difficult for me to imagine Apple doing this — so difficult it’s just not worth discussing. The pro/D-SLR market is too niche for them. They want to build devices they can sell in the millions, or better yet, in the tens of millions. Personally, my bet would be that at some point we’re going to have some fundamental advances in elecro-optics and related technologies that will get us D-SLR levels of performance in smartphone-sized packaging. It wouldn’t surprise me if Apple had a few engineers investigating this sort of thing.

  • wickerprints

    The only thing this blog post, and the subsequent comments show, is that very few people actually understand what is important to Steve Jobs, and even fewer people can anticipate or emulate his approach to product design.

  • ANON

    This Post Sucks!

  • Anybody


  • Anonymous

    I’m not talking about their capability in terms of resources — after all, anyone in business for themselves knows that money and power do not a market leader make.  I don’t think the pro/DSLR demo is one that Apple is terribly interested in, largely for the reasons you point out.  In essence, I think we agree, and for many of the same reasons.

  • Thomas Hollænder

    They would announce a white version – but it would never be ready for sale…

    Only full auto – iManual mode would be an optional app…

    Only Apple branded lenses…

    To get the images of the camera, you had to use iTunes…

    If you sold the images, Apple would take a 30% cut…

  • Ameenapiit

    It’ll be magical , revolutionary and the best thing apple has ever done. It will be post DSLR era.

    It would be well designed and thin.
    It would come in 16,32,64 gigaabyte variants some with 3G.
    It would have a long lasting fixed battery.
    It would support thunderbolt
    It needs itunes to sync your photos to icloud.
    It would run IOS.
    It would be expensive as a leica.
    It would change the way you take photos.
    Ohh i forgot, it will be called icam.

  • Anonymous


  • Richard Ford

    Mate – 4:3 is the standard or official pro aspect ratio.  You’ve never shot much apart from 135 have you?

  • Anonymous

    Here we go.  

    I have shot 6×4.5, 6×6, 6×7, 4×5, (6×4.5, 6×6, and 4×5 in both film and digital), for over 17 years.  I’ve also used my fair share of 35mm b/w, color slide, and print stocks in various speeds, configurations, processing styles.  

    And you’re actually incorrect: 4:3 is NOT the official pro aspect ratio, nor has it ever been.  I highly doubt it ever will be, either.  Square, 3:2, 4x,5, or wider is what we’ll continue to see as the pro aspect ratios.  

    5:4 used to be the common print ratio (8x10s and such), but then again wedding photographers used to also only take 35 shots for the entire wedding.  Are we really going to stick to a deprecated history with such rigid devotion?

  • Nate Parker

    no, 3:2 ratio IS the future, now wheres the damn 3:2 ratio printer paper! AAARG i loathe that i have to hand cut rolls to get that size!

  • Anonymous

    That’s quite an axe your grinding there.

  • Cyvteuzufwcca

    It would have a APS-C sized sensor but when polled, 40% of owners would say they had a full frame camera.

  • Flgraphics

    well this is a useless blog post

    what if Unicorns existed and everyone farted rainbows?

  • Elta_hk

    It wouldn’t be compatible with Adobe’s software.

  • Peteris Nuksa

    Apple would NOT allow you to mess with their Hardware, which means there would be no dual SD card slots on their cameras.

    P.S. iPhone is #1 Camera on Flickr…

  • Chris

    I don’t get the Apple fanboyism.  This is basically a wishlist of digital camera stuff and an assumption, based on absolutely no evidence, that Apple would give you what _you_ think would make a great camera.  

    Please understand, I’m not an Apple hater.  I’m writing this on one of four Macs I own plus two iPods (but my phone is an Android).  But you have to understand that Apple has always been about design simplicity and intentional incompatibility, at the expense of flexibility.  

    If Apple made a camera they would absolutely do away with filter threads.  Very few people use filters these days and it complicates the design.  This means they wouldn’t support polarizers or grad nd filters at all, but that’s okay nobody uses those anyway (Okay, a few specialists use them all the time, but they should go get a different camera,  the iCamera wasn’t designed for them).

    They would also do away entirely with SD cards.  I don’t have any clue where you get the idea that Apple would have dual SD card slots in cameras when they have never put a card slot in an iPad or iPhone despite them having been in phones for a decade and every other smart phone now having them.  Lets face the facts.  Hardly anybody ever switches out the card in either their phone or their camera and allowing you to put one in there complicates the interface and adds one more third party product they depend on.  Their camera would have internal memory only, just like their phones do.

    Their camera would have a fantastic lens, but the idea that you would be able to switch it out is insane.  How many consumers switch out lenses?  How many of those would still switch out lenses if they had a decent 18-200?  You think Apple is going to have a gap in the front where dust can get in _and_ allow third party vendors to try to reverse engineer their proprietary mount and have their techs at the Genius bar try to figure out why the iCamera can’t focus with a Tamron lens when they could just fix a single lens?  

    Other items:  the battery would be internal and non-removable.  I’m not saying this just because of the iPhone, either.  My latest laptop has a non-removable battery, too.  Apple clearly realizes that most people don’t need more than a single battery worth of battery life and that most people upgrade by the time they wear the battery out, thus the design complications of removable batteries aren’t worth it.

    There would be far fewer buttons.  My D90 has (thinking without having it on me) around 25 buttons and 4 dials.  A usability study would probably find that most people only use the shutter button, but at most you’re going to have 4 commonly used buttons.  Everything else should be in the touchscreen.  I say this having bought the D90 when I already had the D50 primarily to get a meter mode button and a DOF preview.

    Again, understand that I’m not bad mounting Apple.  Apple has always based their designs on fantastic usability studies, better than probably anyone else in any business.  But they’re catering to mass market and the mass market camera user doesn’t keep their camera on M (or even P).  That’s why the Mac went decades with only single button mice.  Most computer users never used another button anyway.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think Jobs would have changed a single physical thing. 

    He would have completely democratized the world of photography and make everyone think they were all capable photographers.

    He would have relied on great design to enhance people’s relationship with visual mediums and simplified how we all take pictures.

    He would have created an Apple software ecosystem centered around the camera and made it accessible to everyone mac or pc.

    He would have convinced people that the only option was the pro option and that the only way to get the job done, was with Apple.

  • Anonymous

    Whatever the nasty comments, Steve Jobs has the vision and the delivery of what people want. Just look at Nikon, they are going down like Nokia, because they don’t have a CEO with focus and the right ideas. When you think they took 4 years to come up with the J1/ V1, it is an insult….

  • Richard

    This post is stupid comment bait. Keep it up and you’ll lose your following.

  • Anonymous

    Lol… iTroll

  • Anonymous

    I don’t care, I would NEVER buy it anyways. iCrap

  • Sebastián Soto

    What if Microsoft was a camera maker company?
    Everything hardware-wise would work excellent, but software-wise it wouldn’t.
    You’d have to wait a minute to start using your cameras after you turn it on.
    Sometimes you wouldn’t take a photo because of an unexpected error (represented by a blue screen message).

  • MiB

    Apple is a large camera manufacturer with a huge share of thé market with a single model called the IPhone. Most pictures taken thèse days are with thé IPhone and as some pointer out, there only one button and almost no control… but a lot of people like it.