Photography

Alice Camera marries MFT sensor, AI smarts and smartphone control

Alice Camera marries MFT senso...
The smartphone mounted to the back of the Alice Camera module serves as a real-time viewfinder and settings control
The smartphone mounted to the back of the Alice Camera module serves as a real-time viewfinder and settings control
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Micro Four Thirds lenses can be mounted directly to Alice's body module, while other lenses can be attached via an adapter
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Micro Four Thirds lenses can be mounted directly to Alice's body module, while other lenses can be attached via an adapter
The smartphone mounted to the back of the Alice Camera module serves as a real-time viewfinder and settings control
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The smartphone mounted to the back of the Alice Camera module serves as a real-time viewfinder and settings control
Content can be stored on the camera module's microSD card, or sent wirelessly to the connected smartphone for post processing or sharing online
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Content can be stored on the camera module's microSD card, or sent wirelessly to the connected smartphone for post processing or sharing online
A render showing what the Alice Camera app might look like
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A render showing what the Alice Camera app might look like
The Alice Camera boasts a compact aluminum body that's home to a Micro Four Thirds sensor and dedicated AI processing chip
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The Alice Camera boasts a compact aluminum body that's home to a Micro Four Thirds sensor and dedicated AI processing chip
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About seven years ago, Sony officially revealed its QX series of lens-style cameras, which mounted a combined optics/camera unit on a user's smartphone. Now a London startup is developing an interchangeable lens camera unit rocking a Micro Four Thirds sensor that's controlled using a clamped-on smartphone.

Currently at the prototype stage and being prepped for launch on Indiegogo early next year, the Alice Camera is being developed by Vishal Kumar, Liam Donovan and Vik Kumar as a compact Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera that uses a smartphone app as a live viewfinder and to adjust settings.

A user's smartphone is clamped to the back of the camera module and wirelessly connects over 5-GHz Wi-Fi, and MFT lenses (or other lenses via an adapter) can be mounted to the front. Inside the aluminum body of the compact camera-shaped module is an 11-megapixel four-thirds image sensor that's reported capable of recording 4K video at 30 frames per second, or Full HD at 60 fps. A pixel size of 4.63µm combined with a Quad Bayer structure are claimed to offer improved low noise and dynamic range performance.

The Alice Camera boasts a compact aluminum body that's home to a Micro Four Thirds sensor and dedicated AI processing chip
The Alice Camera boasts a compact aluminum body that's home to a Micro Four Thirds sensor and dedicated AI processing chip

Artificial intelligence via a dedicated chip controls the autofocus, autoexposure and color, there's electronic image stabilization, and content can be recorded to microSD. Stills and video footage can also be sent to the smartphone for editing or sharing on social media, and open-source software will allow for deep dives into tools and processes necessary for content creation.

As there's no cabled connection between smartphone and camera module, you can separate them and plonk the camera at one end of the room and control the show from the other. And if the smartphone is mounted with the screen facing towards the camera module, part of the phone's display juts out at one side to serve as a selfie or vlogging screen.

The Photogram team intends to launch the Alice Camera on Indiegogo in February 2021, but the device is also shown as currently up for pre-order for a limited number of early models. A deposit of £50 (about US$60) will put you in line for one of the first 100, with the total cost pegged at £450 (US$570). Indiegogo backers will be offered pledge levels starting from £550 (US$700), while the estimated retail price for mid-2021 launch is £750 (US$950). The video below has more.

Introducing Alice Camera — Photogram AI

Source: Photogram via DPReview

View gallery - 5 images
3 comments
guzmanchinky
That does seem very cool. But I got to say, the new camera on my iPhone Pro is so good, I've ditched just about everything else unless I need a powerful flash for action sunset work.
paul314
You could buy an actual mirrorless micro 4/3 camera with a control app for about the same. So unless putting your camera together out of components is a draw...
Trylon
I've used an Olympus Air A01 for quite a few years. It uses MFT lenses and can connect to either my iPhone or iPad. I like the big screen on the latter when I want to see more detail while framing a shot. Separate parts are great when I want to do something like hold the camera overhead in one hand while looking at the "viewfinder" image at a comfortable level in front of me. Likewise putting the Air on a monopod and holding it far over a ledge or railing while looking at the phone close up. Panasonic MFT lenses have OIS, so I don't need this camera for stabilization. The only thing I'm missing is the AI, and I'm not convinced that's necessary. Also cost me a hell of a lot less than $950.