ALICE CAMERA M4/3: The new Smartphone combining Camera

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ALICE CAMERA
ALICE CAMERA

Combining the connectivity of a smartphone with the image quality of a hybrid, is the challenge taken up by the British startup Photogram with Alice Camera. Already tried by several manufacturers such as DxO, Sony, Olympus, this initiative is more innovative thanks to a layer of artificial intelligence and computational photography.

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The goal: to offer a creative tool that pushes the limits of what today’s cameras are capable of doing. Named Alice, this new kind of Micro 4/3 camera with interchangeable lenses is still in the prototype phase. Photogram announces its release for February 2021.

Video: Introducing Alice Camera — Photogram AI

Alice Camera: the concept

For most of us, the camera that follows us everywhere is a smartphone. Except that when it comes to image quality, there is much better. With an SLR or a hybrid, for example. But they don’t offer the same connectivity. It is therefore based on these observations, that Photogram decided to develop a compact camera connected to a smartphone for a new experience.

The result: a camera with interchangeable lenses equipped with a dedicated IA chip. Equipped with its own sensor, Alice Camera uses the screen and computing capabilities of the smartphone that the user associates with it.

“We’re a team of engineers, data scientists, and content creators and we’ve spent the last ten months building Alice, because we believe there has been a serious lack of 

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significant innovation in cameras over the last ten years,” says Photogram.

Smartphone interface, with a hint of AI

In the 1990s, digital technology has made a huge leap forward for photography. In the 2020s, a similar revolution is taking place. Concretely, what a content creator can expect from the artificial intelligence of his camera, according to Alice Camera, are new capacities to recognize subjects, to manage autofocus, to manage exposure or colorimetry.

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We still don’t know all the details that make this AI a real photo advantage.

4/3 microphone mount and 11 Mpx Bayer quad sensor

On its front panel, the camera is equipped with a 4/3 microphone mount. Used by Panasonic, Olympus, and other photo and video manufacturers, this mount offers a very complete range of interchangeable lenses. In addition, different adapters make it possible to use lenses of different brands, such as the Canon EF mount.

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The sensor of the device is a 4/3 Quad Bayer HDR sensor of 11 Mpx. With photosites of 4.63µm, Photogram advances increased sensitivity, high dynamic range, and better noise management.

Works with a smartphone

On its backside, Alice Camera is equipped with universal support for smartphones. The phone that you pinch becomes the camera’s touch screen, allowing you to use the included image editing applications. By detaching the smartphone from the camera, it becomes a remote monitor, since the camera and phone can communicate via Wi-Fi – but not Bluetooth. Finally, it is via the smartphone that software updates for the camera and its applications are made.

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Video and live streaming

The video is not outdone on this camera, which records in 4K 30p without cropping and Full HD 60p. Alice Camera does not use sensor stabilization but is equipped with an electronic stabilizer. In addition, according to its manufacturer, the software part simplifies the production workflow and makes the controls very intuitive, to share live content on social networks. For example, a selfie mode – by placing your smartphone upside down – allows you to see yourself.

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The device has a MicroSD card slot as well as a USB-C socket, for recharging and a 3.5 mm micro jack socket.

Price and availability of Alice Camera

Alice Camera is currently at the prototype stage, says Photogram. It will be launched through a participatory fundraising campaign on the Indiegogo platform this fall. It is already possible to pre-order one’s camera, by paying a deposit of £50 (~55$) on the Alice Camera website. Unlike a participatory fundraising campaign, it is impossible to know how many people have pre-ordered the camera at this time.

As one of the first 100 to pre-order, the device is at the ultra-preferential price of £450 (~495$). By pre-ordering it in February 2021 during the Indiegogo campaign, you will be able to purchase it at the preferential rate of £550 (~600$).

Finally, Photogram is planning to produce and market Alice Camera for the summer of 2021, at the price of £750 (~820$).

Our first opinion on Alice Camera

Alice Camera is still at the prototype stage, so don’t rush to pre-order this product that still needs to prove itself with a working prototype. Photogram, a great unknown in the field of photography, seems committed to reinventing the way we use our smartphones to “enhance” their photo capabilities.

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Otherwise you can see where this has led DxO with the DxO One, a model with a 1-inch sensor that was attractive, but failed to break into the tough smartphone market, that is putting more and more compact cameras on the back burner. So we will follow this project closely.

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