The smartphone-connected Alice Camera is now live on Indiegogo. The 10.7MP Micro Four Thirds camera module will offer 4K30p video with automatic or manual operation, 32GB internal storage with MicroSD card slot, fast WiFi connection with the smartphone, and more. Available from £550.
Back in October 2020, we informed you about a new smartphone-connected camera module concept called Alice Camera. Manufactured in the UK, the Alice Camera was planned to launch on Indiegogo in February 2021. The campaign has been launched and already successfully funded. It runs until March 12, 2021, so there is still time to pledge and get the Alice Camera. Let’s take a quick look at its features and specs.
Alice Camera & artificial intelligence
According to the Alice creators, the sensor in the camera is the Sony IMX294 which is the same Quad-Bayer structure image sensor with dual native ISO found in the Panasonic GH5S, BGH1, and in the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. The sensor size is 4/3″ and the resolution is 10.7MP. From the filmmakers’ perspective, I think it was a good choice to include this sensor as it prioritizes dynamic range and better high-ISO performance while having enough resolution for 4K. I can imagine, however, that photographers would like to see a higher resolution sensor in the camera.
Apart from the obvious 10.7MP stills, the camera promises to capture 4K 30fps or 1080p 60fps video with H.264 or H.265 compression. Thanks to the included Google’s Edge TPU chip, Alice creators claim that the camera will be able to acquire better autofocus, auto-exposure, automatic white balance, and object tracking via deep-learning with time. There is an onboard gyroscope and processing to provide electronic stabilization. Users will get full control over its strength and the amount of cropping.
Alice will support autofocus, aperture adjustments, and lens stabilization on all standards-compliant MFT lenses. As I wrote in my previous article, the Micro Four Thirds lens mount offers high flexibility. Aside from many native MFT lenses, hundreds of other lenses can be adapted to it thanks to a short flange distance. Finally, there are also optical focal reducers that better take advantage of lenses designed for larger sensors.
Smartphone Compatibility and App
When it comes to phone compatibility, Alice will work with any iOS or Android phone. The phone-grip mechanism on the camera’s back can accommodate smartphones that are as small as the iPhone 12 Mini (6.42 cm / 2.53 inch wide) until as large as the iPhone 12 Pro Max (7.81 cm / 3.07 inch wide). The smartphone (or tablet) does not need to be in the camera’s phone grip. It can act as a remote control device of the camera module.
The Alice Camera smartphone app (for both Android and iOS devices) connects to and controls Alice with a touchscreen interface. It will be able to instantly live stream and post to Twitch, Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook.
The smartphone app will have two modes. Quick Mode will apply all of the settings in auto, allowing users to just focus on composition. Pro Mode will allow them to manually override the settings and provide maximum control. The camera system and firmware will improve with future software updates through the app.
Body Design and Connectivity
In terms of connectivity, the Alice camera offers a 3.5mm jack for microphone input, Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless headphones and microphones, and the IEEE 802.11ac 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi with speeds up to 500Mbps for low-latency streaming to a connected smartphone.
Inside the CNC-machined aluminum body, Alice has a non-removable 5,200 mAh lithium-ion battery with fast USB-C charging, and 32GB eMMC internal storage which is expandable with a MicroSD card slot. The USB-C port also serves for fast data transfer.
On the body, there is a physical two-level shutter button with a rotating adjustment wheel, standard cold-shoe, 1/4″ tripod thread, and strap mounting points. There is also a front-facing recording tally LED light. The weight of the camera will be 350-375g (0.77-0.83lbs) and the body dimensions will be 107x80x35mm (4.2×3.1×1.4″).
Price and Availability
The price for the Alice camera module starts at £550 with the Super Early Bird offer. There is also an option to purchase two pieces for £1000 (£500 each). Please mind that the shipping fees and taxes are not included in the price. The shipping is estimated to start in October 2021. The planned full retail price will be £750.
What do you think about the Alice camera module? Do you think the concept of pairing large sensor module with a smartphone is the future of photography and video? Let us know in the comments section underneath the article.