“Alice” is an odd Micro Four Thirds camera that (literally) hooks up to your phone

Sep 23, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

“Alice” is an odd Micro Four Thirds camera that (literally) hooks up to your phone

Sep 23, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Hooking a sensor up to your phone isn’t an entirely new concept. Sony tried something similar a while ago and then gave up. Chinese manufacturer Yongnuo has also had a go at this idea although that one never seems to have actually been released. Now, it’s the turn of British company photogram.ai with the Alice Camera – a Micro Four Thirds sensor and mount that you slot your phone into.

It’s billed as an “AI-acceleraated computational camera” built from scratch specifically for content creators. It has a Micro Four Thirds lens mount with a quad-bayer sensor capable of producing 11-megapixel AI-enhanced images, and your smartphone essentially becomes the user interface. At least, that’s the theory. Right now it’s still in the concept/prototype stage.

YouTube video

It’s an interesting looking contraption, although looking at the video above and the information on the website, it appears that it’s iPhone only (at least right now). But they have posted the intended specifications for once it reaches its final design.

Body ConstructionAluminium
Video4K @ 30fps, 1080p @ 60fps
MountMicro Four Thirds
SensorSony 11MP 4/3 Quad-Bayer HDR
Pixel size4.63µm
ColourDeep learning colour science
StabilisationElectronic Image Stabilisation
ExposureAI-Driven Auto Exposure
FocusAI-Driven Auto Focus
StoragemicroSD card
ChargingType-C USB
Audio3.5mm microphone jack
WiFi5Ghz WiFi

Their website says that it features electronic stabilisation, which essentially means there’s no IBIS. That’s fine, plenty of cameras still don’t offer IBIS (although it’s rare in a new model these days). But there’s no mention of whether or not it supports lenses that have built-in image stabilisation. Two of my Micro Four Thirds lenses have stabilisation built-in that doesn’t depend on the body having IBIS. Will those work? No idea.

The quad-Bayer sensor is a great idea, though, potentially offering capabilities that other Micro Four Thirds cameras currently on the market cannot easily offer. In theory, it should offer all of the features that quad-Bayer sensors provide in smartphones, like HDR and reduced noise in the final image. But at only 11-megapixels output, you can tell it’s destined more for online creators, and not those who wish to print big.

The Alice Camera will use its own app and essentially become the camera’s user interface. As such, there’s very little by way of interaction with the main part of the camera itself. On top of the Alice Camera, it looks like you’ve basically got a power button, a dial and a shutter button. It looks like that might be the 3.5mm microphone jack on the other side of the top plate, but that’s pretty much it.

Right now, all of the photos and concepts seem to show an iPhone. There’s no mention of iOS or Android on the website itself, but also no clues as to whether or not Android compatibility will be coming, too.

It’s expected to launch on Indiegogo sometime during Autumn 2020… Or in February 2021. I’m not exactly sure which as both dates are mentioned on their website. A £50 pre-order deposit right now secures a £450 bid once the campaign goes live. This pre-order option is only available to the first 100 customers. If you don’t pre-order, it’ll be a £550 starting price when the campaign commences, and the final retail price for the camera will be £750. They’re expecting to ship out to IGG backers in Summer 2021.

I think I’ll pass on this one myself. Even at £500 (£50 deposit + £450 when the campaign starts), it’s a bit much for what it offers compared to the Micro Four Thirds cameras I already own. Cameras that are cheaper and offer things like IBIS. Although, I am still curious to see how well the concept takes off this time. Sony’s might not have really hit the mainstream, and Yongnuo’s didn’t even seem to hit retailers, but maybe this time it’ll be different.

If you want to find out more about Alice Camera, check out their website.

What do you think?

[via 43Rumors]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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11 responses to ““Alice” is an odd Micro Four Thirds camera that (literally) hooks up to your phone”

  1. Melvis Avatar
    Melvis

    £750 for… a body with a wildly sub-par sensor and no processor? https://media1.giphy.com/media/dC9DTdqPmRnlS/giphy-downsized-medium.gif

  2. wern0122 Avatar
    wern0122

    I haven’t heard any reason why I’d want this over any other small old MFT camera that’s just as portable, has more features, has dials, and costs $300 (eg Oly PEN E-p whatever or a Panasonic GX-something-old).

    1. fang Avatar
      fang

      Or the Olympus Air….

  3. Tea-Cha Cullen Avatar
    Tea-Cha Cullen

    I predicted this would happen a few years ago

    1. Melvis Avatar
      Melvis

      It already did happen, about six years ago. Sony and Olympus both made interchangeable-lens units that attach to phones. Both had much better sensors than this. Both were smaller than this. Both were cheaper than this. Both were superior in probably every way to this.

      Both are dead now.

      Given that a couple of the biggest names in photography couldn’t make such a camera successful, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t invest in a little startup company that’s put out something like this, lol.

      1. fang Avatar
        fang

        Reviewers thought that Olympus’ version was superior and that people would love it. Sony rushed theirs to market because they thought it would be a hit.

        Nowadays, Sony’s QX1 and the Olympus Air usually go for more than their original retail on EBay.

      2. fang Avatar
        fang

        Both are superior to this thing, and are still cheaper.

  4. samagon Avatar
    samagon

    whoever can figure out that the solution is to create a BT connection to the phone and send over a JPG of every shot you take in real time, that’s going to be the thing that makes a DSLR, or MILC relevant to ‘the youth’.

    1. Evel79 Avatar
      Evel79

      Fuji will be pleased since they have had this option for quite some time using their remote app.

      1. fang Avatar
        fang

        Every mirrorless camera, actually. This thing is pointless.

  5. Lavinia Giarre Avatar
    Lavinia Giarre

    We’re launching our campaign on Indiegogo in February!
    You can pre-order your camera directly on our website
    https://alice.camera/