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Catalyses the two-electron reduction of biliverdin IXalpha. Can use [2Fe-2S] ferredoxins from a number of sources as acceptor but not the [4Fe-4S] ferredoxin from Clostridium pasteurianum. The isomerization of (3Z)-phytochromobilin to (3E)-phytochromobilin is thought to occur prior to covalent attachment to apophytochrome in the plant cell cytoplasm. Flavodoxins can be used instead of ferredoxin.