Photo: DPReview

Now that the optics and sensors in smartphones produce images on par with what you’d get from an affordable point and shoot camera, Canon has decided to just go with the flow and build a tiny barebones shooter that looks about as small as a USB flash drive that it’s decided to bring to life via crowdfunding.

Now that smartphones cost well north of $1,000, there’s a good reason to be more protective of our mobile devices. Think of how often you hesitate before handing your phone to a friend to snap a photo. They say the best camera is the one you actually have with you, but what good is it if you miss a photo because you’re worried about your expensive device getting wet, or dropped, or even scratched. That’s where Canon’s IVY REC could be a fantastic alternative.

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When a flash drive and a carabiner love each other very much, their offspring would probably be a dead ringer for the IVY REC, which features a plastic housing, neon colors, and a small bump on the frame which serves as the shutter button. Canon promises it’s shockproof and waterproof (to a depth of just a couple feet, however, it’s not for divers) and its 13 megapixel 1/3-inch CMOS sensor can also record hi-def video at 60 frames per second.

Photo: DPReview

There’s even a standard-sized tripod mount on the underside, and a dial on the back for switching between the IVY REC’s limited modes, but what you won’t find is an LCD display anywhere on it. When framing shots users can either use the square hole on the clip end of the camera as a crude viewfinder, or they can reach for their smartphone as wireless connectivity is included and it allows a free accompanying Canon app to provide a live view from the camera’s sensor. There’s no mention if a USB port will be included for downloading shots from the IVY REC, but photos can be wirelessly offloaded to a smartphone for easy sharing.

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Photo: Indiegogo

Full details are unfortunately very light at this point, including what the IVY REC will cost, how long its battery will last, or if it will use microSD cards instead of built-in storage. In a time when consumers aren’t as interested in spending hundreds of dollars on a capable but bulky DSLR because their smartphones snap photos that are good enough, Canon is still apparently hesitant about fully embracing the casual photography market. For the IVY REC, the company is going to test the waters using an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign which it’s still just teasing at this point; it hasn’t actually launched yet.

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But if you like the idea of keeping a cheap tiny camera clipped to your belt, always at the ready, while your smartphone stays safely tucked away in your pocket, Canon promises that early supporters can snag one for up to 30 percent off whatever the retail price ends up being—assuming enough people get on board to make the campaign a success.