Photogram has launched a pre-order campaign for the Alice camera — a camera it says will combine the AI and computational photography characteristics of a smartphone camera with the larger sensor and interchangeable lens system of the Micro Four Thirds system.
The concept was announced back in September 2020 and the UK company says it intends to begin shipping the camera in the autumn of this year. Photogram is keen to point out that its Indiegogo campaign is for pre-orders rather than a funding exercise as it already has funding from various UK government agencies and industry bodies, but with the camera still at the working-demo stage there a degree of risk all the same.
The Alice is designed to be coupled with a Wi-Fi connected smartphone that mounts on its rear and which acts as the camera’s screen and control point via a dedicated app. The camera will use a MFT 10.7MP Dual Native ISO Multi-Aspect Ratio sensor that will be able to record C4K/4K 30p video in 17:9, 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios, and which can provide still shooters with DNG RAW and JPEG files. As the camera will be connected to a phone it will also be able to be used to live stream video content directly to social media.
The key difference between Alice and other regular cameras though is that it will use AI learning to adjust images as they are being recorded in the same way that smartphones do, to brighten shadows, to increase saturation in blue skies and to use multi-shot techniques to reduce noise and improve dynamic range. AI will also run exposure, AF and White Balance, while computational photography techniques will optimise noise and dynamic range.
Photogram says the algorithm it will use is being trained to understand what processing adjustments need to be made to an image to make the picture look as though it has already been worked on by the photographer, the algorithm will run on Google’s Edge dedicated AI Tensor Processing Unit machine learning chip.
Users will be able to let the camera work automatically in the Quick Mode or by switching to Pro Mode will be able to take full control of the camera and image settings themselves. A series of slides will also allow users to accept varying degrees of input from the AI algorithms, while open source software will allow them to customise their camera and to write new applications for features that can be shared with other users. Photogram promises constant updates to the camera as the AI algorithms become more advanced and plans to add new features as they are developed.
Via the Indiegogo campaign the Alice camera can be pre-ordered for an early-bird price of £550 (approx. $760) with a projected shipping date of October 2021. For more information see the Alice camera Indiegogo campaign page.
DPReview has spoken to the team behind Alice to find out a bit more about how the camera will work and what it will be capable of — expect an article with more detail soon.
Disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project. DPReview does its best to share only the projects that look legitimate and come from reliable creators, but as with any crowdfunded campaign, there’s always the risk of the product or service never coming to fruition.
The AI Camera content creators have been waiting for is officially available for pre-order
Alice Camera combines the experience of a smartphone with the quality of a DSLR.
February 9th 2021, London, UK: Photogram, the organisation behind the eagerly awaited Alice Camera has today announced that you can pre-order the AI-accelerated computational camera now for a super early bird price via its online pre-order campaign. The Alice Camera is what content creators have been lacking. As content platforms evolve, the camera market needs to adapt – the Alice Camera brings together the experience of a smartphone with the quality of a DSLR camera to shoot, edit and share high-quality 4K content instantly.
In Europe alone, there are 20 million income-generating content creators, which include Photographers, Videographers, YouTubers, Instagrammers, TikTokkers and Twitch streamers to name a few, yet most are working with devices that do not maximise their potential – smartphone sensors are not up to spec, yet DSLR or mirrorless cameras lack computational photography capabilities.
But all that is about to change. The Alice Camera gives total control to the user and works with their smartphone to shoot and share better content in a fraction of the time – simply point, shoot and share or live stream to your audience on social media in high-quality full-width 4K video.
Its sleek design mounts to the back of most smartphones (although it can also work unattached) and its native iOS and Android app will connect to and control the camera via the touchscreen interface, giving users a smooth user experience and a faster production workflow. Fast wireless data transfer between camera and phone gives users a seamless real-time viewfinder on their smartphone screen.
Alice’s unique selling point is that it harnesses the computational photography that you see in the latest smartphones but applies it to professional quality optics. The Alice Camera also offers:
- A 4/3 image sensor, eight times bigger than the ones in smartphones. The sensor’s dual native ISO and quad-bayer structure gives users excellent low-light performance, high dynamic range and exceptionally low noise;
- The ability to attach your favourite Micro Four Thirds lens, the most flexible and compact interchangeable lens system around, with over 50 professional-quality lenses available, or attach an adapter to use lenses with different mounts too;
- A dedicated AI-chip will run the company’s patent-pending end-to-end deep learning pipeline on-device for innovative computational photography features to automate scene capture and enhance image processing.
Being a computational camera, Alice will be regularly updated via software updates, meaning that content creators can stay on top of their game without constantly purchasing new devices – just lenses of their choice. In addition, Alice’s open-source software can be customised like no other camera — others will be free to build add-ons and features that will benefit all Alice Camera users. An open-access environment means creators can deeply customise their creative process, encouraging collaboration and software development.
The Alice Camera will be shipped to pre-order customers in the Autumn when the RRP will be £750 for the body only. However, content creators can order the Alice Camera via the Indiegogo campaign which launched today and benefit from a special pre-order price starting from £550 (26% discount).
Vishal Kumar, CEO and Co-founder of Photogram said, “Today’s announcement comes after 18 months of liaising with over a thousand content creators, taking part in extensive accelerator programmes and building prototype Alice cameras. We are so pleased that we can bring to market a product that has been built from the ground up by creators for creators.”
“Over the next decade, the creator economy driven by the passion economy is set to grow rapidly. Creators are growing at 15% annually and the market for digital photography more broadly will reach $150bn by the end of 2026. Creators need a tool more suitable for our new world of content creation; imagine the future for creators and the industry with the Alice Camera’s features and functionality?”
Photogram was founded in June 2019 when it’s co-founders Vishal Kumar and Dr Liam Donovan met on the Entrepreneur First London 12 cohort. The company secured a £175k innovation grant from Innovate UK, the UK government’s innovation agency, and joined the Micro Four Thirds System standard run by Olympus and Panasonic. The Alice Camera will be manufactured in Britain and is the first device launched by Photogram.
Follow Alice Camera:
YouTube: The Alice Camera
Facebook: The Alice Camera
Vishal Kumar is a cultural data scientist at The Bartlett, UCL and he is one of a handful of people in the world pioneering the application of data science and machine learning for art and culture. A content creator himself, Vishal has over 30,000 followers on social media. He previously worked at Sotheby’s auction house as one of the company’s first Data Scientists.
Dr Liam Donovan is an experienced engineer with particular expertise in building AI-accelerated embedded hardware and software for creatives. After completing his PhD Liam did a year-long fellowship at Royal Academy Engineering looking at building a business around selling computational hardware to the creative industries.