ALPA 12 TC camera by Estragon


Swiss studio Estragon have designed a camera for Swiss camera manufacturer ALPA.

Called ALPA 12 TC, the compact square design operates as a 6x9 roll-film or 60 MP digital camera.

Accessories can be attached to all sides of the block, including a rosewood or pear handle.

Here's some more information from the designers:

We just finished a project for ALPA Cameras. A small but very fine camera producer in Switzerland. The cameras of Alpa are professional tools used by photographers such as Walter Niedermayr or Andreas Gursky.

A camera from Alpa puts nothing in between the creativity of the photographer and his picture. The focus remains entirely on feeling for the moment and the skill of the user. The reduction to the bare essential renders the the objectives of the photographer visible.

"Such a uncompromising object like the ALPA 12TC is, this camera will become one with the user. Only when the photographer will forget the camera in his hands he will be able to absolutely focus on his activity: The Photography."

Hold it in your hands and you will understand. We wanted the people not only to see, but also feel this mechanical object. To understand it with all your senses. This aim was our guide for ALPA throughout the whole design process at estragon.

See also:


Rubikon Pinhole Rebel by Jaroslav Juřica More design
More photography

Posted on Friday May 28th 2010 at 10:19 am by Catherine Warmann. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Rich – Newcastle UK

    Amazing!! I want one – any chance I can have one as its my 20th Birthday today??

  • Fantastic creation.. charm of old good times

  • Raph

    Just WAHOUH!

  • Raspberry

    Amazing!!! i love the design and the technical aspects! what a camera ##

  • This is just sooooo wild! I want one sooo much! x

  • j

    i want this so badly it hurts

  • peh


  • Tom Ford

    Incredible old school quality – must weigh a ton. The brand font is incredibly similar to this old Czech ointment brand:

  • Willy

    very arousing…..

  • Great… the vintage stylish look… I would love to try it out.

  • artmaker

    Great to see an elegant design that emphasises practical function.
    I’m curious about the design of the viewfinder scope on top.
    It emphasizes the “shooting” aspect of making a photograph.
    No “through the lens” viewing though?
    what if you miss the shot?!
    I guess it will become a camera to learn and then love.

  • artmaker

    What I was getting at, but neglected to say clearly,
    in my previous post, is how do you focus the lens?

  • T

    wow! how much is it!
    looks more like a rifle than camera.

  • jason

    real practical. sreams look at me, i am artsy.

  • Fizz

    If a camera were designed to fit the ethos of Diesel Punk, would this be it? Not quite ‘steam driven’ admittedly but has that surreal-retro, antique fantasy quality.

  • BRian


    I really. REALLY want one, but I am sure that it costs my yearly paycheck!



  • nobody you know

    It looks a bit hideous…..

    But did I read that right? 60MP?

  • James

    “Such a uncompromising object like the ALPA 12TC is, this camera will become one with the user. Only when the photographer will forget the camera in his hands he will be able to absolutely focus on his activity: The Photography.”

    This camera is actually full of compromises.
    -Because it has no reflex mirror to look through the lens, framing is done using the top viewfinder, which shows only the approximate borders of the image and is subject to parallax error as you focus on close objects.
    – Focus is manual and can be one of three ways: 1. guesstimating the distance and setting the focus to the marks on the focusing scale, 2. focus, take a picture, look at it on the lcd, refocus, take another picture, and so on 3. take the $40,000 digital back off the camera and clip on a ground glass and magnifier. Don’t get any dust on the sensor or drop it in the dirt. And if handholding and guesstimating the focus, you probably just lost 50% of the potential resolution of the digital back and might as well use a Canon rebel ti.
    – Ergonomics: the shutter release is the brass thing located on the side of the shutter (this is a mechanical “between the lens” shutter is typically found on lenses for large format cameras and design to be triggered by a shutter release cable). Look how far it is from the grip. Great to have to stretch your index finger over for that gentle squeeze of the shutter release. Look where the release is located relative to the grip on most cameras to get an idea of where it should be.
    – These type of technical cameras with wide angle lenses would typically be used by architectural photographers. Yet the lens of this camera is fixed relative to the sensor, whereas in architectural photography the lens is often shifted parallel to the sensor to avoid converging vertical lines in the photo. So at best this camera is a secondary tool for professionals or an expensive toy for the rich.

    As nicely made as it is, you’d be unlikely to forget you have it in your hands as you fiddle around trying to make a good photo…

  • Andy

    Opinions and "reviews" of people who have never ever touched a machine should always be read with caution ;) It is like the modern and digital enabled version of the Hasselblad SWC and nobody was complaining there about a missing mirror, viewfinder and other things like a fix mounted lens (which is in contrast completely interchangeable here). Photographers were just using it to produce remarkable pictures as with this baby. Plus it is just one part of a complete system where you find machines with rise, fall and shifts for architecture too…

  • ALPA of Switzerland

    Sorry, your headline is wrong. Only the wooden hand grip was designed together with Estragon. Nothing more. The ALPA 12 TC exists since 2005 and neither the viewfinder nor the lens and accessories was ever touched by Estragon!