Ladibird Aims to Turn iPhones Into Serious Portrait Cameras


Is the Ladibird an iPhone case, a fully-functioning camera or a cleverly designed smartphone add-on? The answers, in no particular order, are yes, yes and yes. The upcoming device manages the increasingly difficult feat of pioneering a new and potentially useful category by turning an iPhone into a seriously capable portrait camera.

The sleek unit incorporates a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens and a large CMOS sensor into a package that easily slides over any iPhone. With an accompanying app, the iPhone essentially turns into a storage and transmission medium.

Developed by three University of Singapore graduates with a taste for photography and entrepreneurial efforts, the Ladibird is closing up its second round on crowdfunding site Indiegogo and expects to begin mass production in time for July 2014 delivery. For those who didn’t get in on the funding campaign, it will set you back about $300.



Prototypes of the device are being shown at CES this week and attracting plenty of attention. One significant point of obscurity remains, however: just how big is the sensor? Ladibird says it’s prohibited by NDA from disclosing the megapixel count now and the only descriptor offered is that the physical size is 7.5 times the dimension of the iPhone internal image sensor.

By our calculations, that puts it a fair bit south of MFT size, so decide for yourself how that gibes with the promise to produce “DSLR-quality portraits.”

Aside from that possible bit of marketing overreach, it’s hard not to be impressed with the idea, especially when compared with kludgier precursors.

(via The Phoblographer)

  • Matt

    Use a Fevron sensor, and a good sized one, then they will get my attention.

  • Andrew B

    You must mean Foveon. I think it is interesting given how Sony has already begun trying a similar concept a few months ago.

  • Jimmy Fartpants

    This idea gets sh*t on a lot in here, but I like it.

  • Jesse Baynard

    Since the iPhone is 15.4mm sq, times 7.5 is just about the surface area of the 116mm sq size of the Nikon1/Sony one inch sensors… Not bad, but you’ll probably get similar results from the QX100. There are a lot of tradeoffs both ways over price, overall fit/ease, future compatibility, zoom, etc…

  • Bill Putnam

    It’s interesting but why not let me use already existing apps for it, like Hipstamatic?

  • Clayton Finley

    pending final pricing and reviews, I may get one. Though by design its limited to the iphone 5/5s, when there are pretty good rumors that the next iphone will be larger in size. which gives this product an active shelf life of about 3-4 months before coming obsolete. ( out in july, ip6 in oct.-nov. )

  • Mik

    The comparison chart is a disgusting piece of garbage.
    Are they trying to tell me that having only one button is better than having the right amount of dials for quick access to any setting I need?
    Are they trying to tell me that I should be happy to instantly up my photo on instagram instead of shooting raw and being able to put it through lightroom?
    Are they trying to tell me that I should be happy to lose the choice of what lens to use (and I say so even when my nifty fifty is my favourite lens)
    Are they trying to tell me that I should be happy to have a dumbed down toy instead of a camera?

    I’m surprised that the comments I’ve read here, on a photography blog, are positive.
    Surprised and disappointed.

  • eric westpheling

    Won’t this be rendered incompatible with each iphone design change? Why build a product add-on to a device that historically has short product-refresh cycles? Also, isn’t iphone market share on the decline?

    Just stick with your RX100 or GM1 and wifi the pics over to whatever device you want. done.

  • Zos Xavius

    “Mirrorless sensor” Wow. That must solve a lot of problems when you remove the mirror from the sensor!

  • Human

    “The portraits used here belong to 3 Singapore residents – Efa, Kar Hao and Sara. They were all shot along the Singapore River with a 50mm prime lens on a 12 megapixel Nikon D700 by Adam, to expand his photography portfolio in 2009. “

  • l0k

    so that’s roughly a 100mm equivalent lens, I think this is completely useless.

  • Jake

    Well, clearly you, as a serious photographer, are not their target demographic.

  • faloc

    and only for iphones…which is pointless

  • Ĺ˝iga Auer

    Lol marketing, comparing the price of the Ladibird, which doesnt wortk without an iPhone, to a full DSLR Camera. The sad part is that for the price of a new iPhone and Ladibird you can buy a decent starter DSLR along with a 50mm 1.8 or even 1.4 lens, and afterwards still have the flexibility of adding on any lens you want.
    I mean for instagram and facebook photos the iPhones camera is more the good enough, and for serious work this thing is just too inflexible. So dunno, maybe Apples braindead sheep might just love it.

  • YS

    I’m guessing the camera needs its own software and iOS doesn’t allow intermediaries?

  • YS

    I actually like this concept, but the problem is that building it to a specific phone (that gets updated every 1-2 years) might be a bit of a problem, as someone mentioned. Also, sensor size sounds like 1″, so, 135mm equivalent seems a little long.

  • James

    I thought the same thing, must be a 50mm Equivalent, Because honestly if it’s 100mm nobody is going to want to pack it around.

  • anon

    They forgot the price of the phone…. it makes a pretty big difference to the comparison.

  • anon

    Sure, but they’ve still retained many customers, ones that will even put up with the extremely short time between the 4 and 5 and still be churning out it droves. They have a lot of zealots and this product might turn over as fast as the iphones do, which would give this venture repeat customers. Take a look at planned obsolescence some time.

  • anon

    I think they correctly described it as a portrait lens, those will range from about 75 to 150mm. Though… who wants to do serious portraits with this is a mystery. Maybe the iphone flash is strong enough to trigger strobes? It would probably work, but it seems like going through a lot to avoid the obvious solution for shooting portraits. It only really has value at all if you already own the iphone.. but I guess that’s a lot of people.

  • Mik

    “Ladibird Aims to Turn iPhones Into Serious Portrait Cameras”
    But the title implies it’s geared toward serious photography. That I can’t stand.

  • SickOfTheTrolls

    Judgmental cretins are *everywhere* online, none more so than ANY web article with ‘iPhone’ in the title.
    Get a job and you too can afford stuff. Until then, get lost.

  • NA

    No kidding. What is wrong with these people???

  • Andrew Read

    I know this is an old article, but I contacted Ladibird and they told me that they prefer not to say anything at this time, but they are working hard… So… we might see this someday, we might not.