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The Laibox Cam brings swappable lenses to action cameras

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Most action cameras stick with a wide angle, fixed focus lens designed for action but one China-based startup is aiming to stir up the category by launching a modular action camera. The Laibox Cam is a prototype of an action camera that uses both swappable lens and modules for adding a second sensor.

Laibox said it launched on the idea of making action cameras more versatile. To do that, the company is designing a camera that can be altered by swapping different modules on the front. While most proposed add-ons would alter the field of view by adding another lens, the first add-on is an eight-times zoom lens module that adds a second camera sensor. The second sensor works like a dual-lens smartphone adding zoom and, the company claims, capturing more light, details and expanding the depth of field. Ports built into the action camera’s body allows the camera’s software to work with the footage from both views.

The company said it would like to bring more optical zoom and a 360 panorama option as well, but additional add-ons will depend on the support received for the initial product offering. The Indiegogo campaign, however, has already doubled their modest $5,000 goal and backers could also potentially get a 170-degree panoramic lens module along with that first eight-times zoom module with a dual camera.

The camera can shoot 4K video at 30 fps and also builds in an optical stabilization system, though the company hasn’t released full specifications with details like sensor size and lens aperture. The Laibox Cam also uses a tilting  LCD screen that flips around to the front of the camera as a compositional aid for selfies. The screen isn’t touch-enabled, however, and a handful of buttons allow for swapping the camera’s various settings. The camera can also be controlled via an app. A stereo mic is included and the company said placement at the top of the camera is designed to reduce wind noise.

Laibox said the battery lasts more than two hours and that the battery is swappable, so it is possible to have a backup on hand for extended recording.

The Laibox Cam is entering a struggling action camera market as even giant GoPro restructures — but expanding the camera’s possibilities with add-ons could be a fresh take on the small cameras. The Laibox Cam still carries some risk, however, while fully funded, the camera is only in the prototyping stages. The creation of those extra modules will depend on how much financial support the startup sees.

The Laibox Cam Indiegogo campaign ends on January 27. Pledges that include a camera start at $139, while the camera’s expected retail price is $279.

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