We’ve seen lots of different lens systems in recent years that promise to turn your smartphone into a better camera. Now one company is taking that further with a system that transforms your average smartphone into a professional-looking camera that can supposedly work with smartphones of all shapes and sizes.
Unlike add-ons we’ve seen such as the DxO One and Kodak’s Smart Lens, IndieVice is an entire camera system. That means you’re not just strapping another lens onto the front of your smartphone; it's more like you're sliding your phone inside a "real" camera. Your smartphone provides its camera sensor, battery, processing power and display – while the kit handles the rest.
A viewfinder on the back of the device uses a special dioptric adjustable lens to adapt to your eyesight while you look through it, and there's also a wireless zoom-in/zoom-out and start/stop button, so you can control basic photography functions without touching the phone's screen (and you can also move the location where those buttons stay).
Three 1/4-inch brass threads (two on top and one on the bottom) allow you to attach other things to the rig as well. The top two connectors can be used for lighting and audio accessories or a second viewfinder, while the mount of the bottom makes it possible to attach the setup to a tripod, monopod or a slider.
The company says its rig can handle any 52 mm and 37 mm lenses you already own. IndieVice will also be offering its own line of optional lenses, including a fish-eye and line of ultra-wide-angle lenses. An optional GoPro adapter allows you to mount your GoPro to the IndieVice and shoot videos in 4k. And if you already own one of Sony’s QX lenses, you can attach that to the camera as well. A Bluetooth remote allows you to control the camera from afar, for group photos and videos.
The company says its kit will have a "universal smartphone adapter," to fit everything from iPhones to Androids and even Blackberry. Tablets and mini-tablets, though, are not supported – which makes us question whether 6-inch behemoths like the Nexus 6 (which is a mini-tablet in everything but name) are fair game.
While accessories like this can enhance your phone's photography skills and give you the feeling of using a "real" camera, the phone's rear camera sensor is still sitting at its core, so you're not going to get full frame-like results, and you'll naturally get better shots if you use something like a Galaxy S6, LG G4 or iPhone 6 than you will using a lower-grade smartphone shooter.
... and of course it remains to be seen how the resulting images will measure up next to those taken using a regular smartphone camera setup.
IndieVice is currently raising money on Kickstarter to make its first run of the system. A US$125 pledge will get you one of the first IndieVice Pro Models (the company estimates a March 2016 ship date). For additional money you can also pick up some additional lenses and adapters, with the entire kit ringing up for $444.
IndieVice's odds of getting funded are looking good, as it's already raised 82 percent of its $40,583 goal, with 26 days to go.