Holiday 2012: Accessories for Your iPhone Camera

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With each new iPhone release, Apple continues to improve on its camera, always taking its camera phone integration seriously. The standardized size of the phone has also opened up a great market for camera accessories. When you consider the iPhone’s popularity and the innovative features on both the front and rear cameras, it’s no surprise that there are dozens of manufacturers producing all types of iPhone camera accessories. This holiday article examines the camera accessories for both the iPhone 4/4S and the iPhone 5. If you have someone on your holiday shopping list who takes a lot of pictures or video with their iPhone, then this is a must-read guide.

Tripods, Camera Mounts and More

There are dozens of compact tripods available that are compatible with the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5. We’re going to look at a few models, as well as some other tools that hold your iPhone in place for photo/video capture. Joby makes a handful of iPhone camera accessories including the Gorillamobile case/stand for iPhone 4/4S. The Gorillamobile features an iPhone 4/4S case with attachable mini-tripod legs. The tripod legs bend for optimal flexibility when using your iPhone camera. Plus, the case provides protection for your iPhone as well. The 1/4-inch tripod screw also makes the Gorillamobile compatible with many other compact cameras.

Joby also makes the GripTight Mount, which is compatible with several smartphones including all iPhone models. The GripTight Mount works with most tripods as well. It connects to your tripod and the spring-loaded mount securely grips your iPhone—even if it’s still in a protective case. There are many versions of the GripTight system, including the GripTight Micro, which features the GripTight Mount and a compact tabletop tripod with lightweight zinc-alloy legs and rubber feet for added stability.

Another manufacturer that works closely with the iPhone and other smartphones is Tether Tools. Their Look Lock Smartphone Holder is available with either an 11-inch or a 7-inch articulating arm. The Look Lock System features a camera mountable universal smartphone holder that supports any mobile device up to 3-inches (76mm) wide. The holder is attached to an all-metal articulating arm that mounts your iPhone or smartphone above your camera lens or camera body. It attaches to your camera with a specially engineered cold-shoe mount. You can use the Look Lock System for capturing the attention of kids and pets by playing fun images and videos on the iPhone display. It also works as a teleprompter when shooting DSLR video, or you can use it as a monitor for the photographer or subject, so they can see the images as they’re shot. Plus, you can use it to record video from the camera’s point of view at weddings or other events—all while you’re simultaneously shooting stills with your DSLR.

iCandy makes a similar device called the iCandy Universal Smartphone Mount. It connects to your DSLR tripod thread and works with most smartphones including the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5. Once your iPhone or smartphone is mounted directly below the lens on your camera, you can use the iCandy mount to grab a child’s attention or work with a model by showing him/her what their poses look like with each shot. If you have an app that you like to use with your iPhone or smartphone, you can rotate the iCandy mount 180° so it’s facing you (the photographer). Then, you’ll be able to use the app on your iPhone and your DSLR camera seamlessly as if they were one device. The iCandy mount ships with two extenders as well, that compensate for the extra length a battery grip adds to your DSLR.

If you already own a tripod or tabletop tripod, you can use the Gary Fong Tripod Adapter for iPhone 4/4S. The adapter slides right onto your iPhone 4/4S and mounts to a standard 1/4"-20 tripod screw. You can also use the adapter with the Gary Fong Flip Cage to create a convenient tabletop stand for your iPhone 4/4S. Another convenient alternative for creating a tabletop stand for your iPhone is the Magnetic Keychain Stand for iPhone 4/4S from tiltpod. This small portable stand attaches to your keychain so you can always carry it with you. That way, whenever you need a tabletop stand for shooting hands-free photos or video with your iPhone, you can pull out your keys and place your iPhone in the magnetized slot that’s built right into the stand. The articulating stand is adjustable and even features a quick-connect magnetic ball pivot for shooting at a variety of angles. The base of the stand is designed to grip most flat surfaces securely.

Lenses and Filters

Photographers who use a DSLR often have a variety of lenses for different shooting conditions and to achieve different results. So, it makes sense that photographers and hobbyists would desire the same flexibility when shooting with their iPhone. To meet this growing demand, several manufacturers have released auxiliary lenses that are designed specifically for the iPhone.

The first lens we’ll examine is the ōlloclip 3-in-1 Lens System, which is available for the iPhone 4/4S or the iPhone 5. You can choose between red or black for each model as well. The ōlloclip is a quick-connecting and clever lens solution for the iPhone. It provides three lenses in one compact unit. The unique design allows you to slide it right over the corner of your iPhone 4/4S or iPhone 5. This means you can attach and detach the lenses in seconds. It also means that you’ll have access to a fisheye lens, a wide-angle lens and a macro lens. The lenses work with most photo apps as well. Plus, it includes a microfiber carrying case that doubles as a lens cleaner. The fisheye lens covers about a 180° of field of view, while the macro lens adds a 10x multiplier so you can focus on a subject from as little as 0.47-0.59-inches (12-15mm) away. The wide-angle lens just about doubles the normal field of view of your iPhone camera lens.

For filters, B+W makes the Smart-Pro circular polarizing filter for iPhone, iPad, smartphones and tablets. The Smart-Pro filter features an adhesive magnet ring that allows it to attach to all iPhone and iPad models. It also works with many other smartphones and tablets as long as the camera lens has a 8mm maximum diameter. The Smart-Pro filter reduces reflections and intensifies colors. It improves contrast ratio as well.

For another filter option, check out the Holga Lens Filter and Case Kit for iPhone 4/4S. The protective case is available in black, red, blue, silver or white. Each case features an integrated filter wheel with multiple filter types and lens options. There are five different filters including a red filter, a green filter, a yellow filter with a clear center, a blue filter with a clear center and a red filter with a clear heart-shaped center. There are also four lens options including a 60mm macro lens, a quadruple-image lens, a triple-image lens and a dual-image lens. There is even an empty hole on the wheel for capturing images with no effects.

Another tool that will help you create professional and interesting photos or video with your iPhone is the Kogeto Dot. The Dot features a unique iCONIC lens built into a snap-on case that attaches to your iPhone 4/4S. The lens features an AR-coated catadioptric optical system and it allows you to record 360° video with your iPhone 4/4S. It works with the free downloadable Looker App from Kogeto. Once you’ve recorded your full 360° video in one seamless shot, you can use the app to view the 360° panoramic video right on your iPhone’s LCD touch screen. You can swipe the screen to spin the video angle around the full 360° field of view. The Looker App also makes it easy to share your immersive 360° video clips with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter or the Kogeto website. For added personalization, the Dot is available in a handful of colors including black, red, pink and green. Another alternative for shooting 360° video with your iPhone 4/4S is the EyeSee360° GoPano Micro, which features 360° video capture, a wide 90° vertical field of view and a free downloadable app for sharing your videos.

Alm is another manufacturer that makes dozens of photo and video packages for iPhone photographers and videographers. Their most popular model is the mCAM for iPhone 4/4S. The mCAM is essentially an aluminum housing for your iPhone 4/4S that provides a sturdy double-handed grip like the type you would find on a DSLR camera. There is also a full-size, wide-angle/macro 37mm lens integrated into the aluminum housing. To use the mCAM, you place your iPhone 4/4S inside the included silicone case, which then fits into the aluminum housing. Your iPhone camera lens lines up with the mCAM’s integrated lens and you’re ready to shoot. Other features include an external microphone for audio capture, a cold-shoe mount and four tripod-mounting points placed around the mCAM exterior.

Alm also makes the smaller mCAMLITE for both the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5. It features the same wide-angle/macro 37mm lens, cold-shoe mount, silicone interior and four tripod-mounting points. The main difference is the size of the aluminum housing. The mCAMLITE features a more compact camera design, rather than the double-grip DSLR design of the original mCAM. There is also an mCAM Plus Pack for the iPhone 4/4S. It’s available with either the DSLR double-grip housing or the compact mCAMLITE camera housing. Besides the aluminum housing and integrated lens, the mCAM Plus Pack includes a Rotolight LED ringlight as well, which makes it possible to shoot photos and video in normal and low-light conditions.

For enhancing audio recording while using your iPhone, Alm also makes the MoJo Pro Pack for iPhone 4/4S. It includes the compact mCAMLITE aluminum housing, a Røde M3 microphone and an XLR adapter that connects to your iPhone mic input. If you already have an mCAM housing, but want to improve audio recording, check out the Alm External Mounted 180° Rotational Microphone. You can use it with either your iPhone 4/4S or iPhone 5. It works with other smartphones as well. The mic can rotate 180° and it also features a gold-plated 1/8-inch (3.5mm) stereo mini-plug.

If you’re looking for the same versatility of the Alm systems, but in a more compact form factor, the iPro Lens System for iPhone 4/4S is the ideal choice. The iPro system features a more traditional iPhone case, as well as a fisheye lens and a wide-angle lens. It also includes a unique dual-purpose handle / lens case that provides steady shooting and storage for the system’s lenses when not in use. The iPhone 4/4S case uses a bayonet mount to attach the lenses, and there are handle attachment points on both sides of the case. The wide-angle lens provides a 35% wider field of view, while the fisheye lens features an impressive 165-degree field of view. The case is equipped with a tripod mount adapter as well. This entire system is small enough to fit into your pocket or purse.

Another truly unique option is the Aeronautic Pictures indie iPhone 4/4S Camera Case. It features a durable case made from aircraft-grade aluminum that houses your iPhone 4/4S and features a sliding door to securely lock your iPhone using magnetic attraction. Once installed inside the indie case, your iPhone is centered and mounted so that the camera lens is situated “On Center” or in the middle of the case. Then, you can use the 37mm accessory lens mount to add a compatible lens to your iPhone 4/4S. Other unique features include channel slots for standard 15mm rail/rod systems and a cold-shoe mount. There are also eight strategically placed 1/4"-20 tripod threads placed all over the case. Plus, the case doesn’t sacrifice access to any of your iPhone ports. The indie is available with a matching aluminum handle as well.

If you’re looking for a simpler alternative to bulky cases and cumbersome multi-lens systems, then the Digital King Magnet Mount Conversion Lenses are the answer. These lenses are compatible with the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5. There is a fisheye lens option and a wide-angle/macro lens option. Both lenses attach to your iPhone using magnetic force. The magnet will not damage any interior parts of the iPhone, either. The lightweight aluminum lenses feature high-quality optical glass, and they include convenient carrying pouches to keep them safe while in transport. Once you see a shot you like, you take out either the fisheye or wide-angle lens and the magnetic connector quickly snaps the lens into place. The wide-angle/macro lens features 0.5x magnification and the fisheye lens features 0.2x magnification. These lenses are easy to use and very portable. They make perfect stocking stuffers.

Phocus is another manufacturer customizing gear because of the popularity of iPhone photography. Their Phocus for iPhone 4/4S system is available in a two-lens bundle and a three-lens bundle. The system features a front panel into which your iPhone slides. Once attached, it affords one- or two-hand shooting, and the lens system case supports tripod mounting as well. The two-lens bundle includes a wide-angle lens and a telephoto lens. The three-lens bundle includes an additional macro lens.

Accessories for Video Capture

Zacuto is known for providing high-quality DSLR and video camera rigs for creative professionals and hobbyists. For iPhone videographers, they offer several handgrip and cradle systems that promote smooth shooting and steady video stabilization. One customer favorite is the compact and lightweight Zacuto iPhone Point 'n' Shoot Handgrip System. It’s an ideal choice for shooting steady, smooth video with your iPhone 3G/3GS or iPhone 4/4S. This particular system includes the Point 'n' Shoot Pro handgrip and the iPhone Cradle. Once you’ve snapped your iPhone into the cradle and attached it to the handgrip, you’re ready to record professional-quality video. If you require a more compact rig for certain applications, you can use the iPhone cradle by itself as a smaller stabilization system. The handgrip even features a tripod thread for mounting your iPhone on a tripod. Since the system affords handheld, cradle and tripod stabilization, you’ll have a truly flexible tool that prevents shaky video no matter where or how you’re filming.

Another manufacturer of high-quality DSLR and pro video camera rigging equipment is Manfrotto. One of their iPhone video accessories is the unique KLYP Case for iPhone 4/4S. It’s available as a case only, or you can purchase it with a removable ML120 LED Light or ML240 LED Light. The KLYP Case with ML120 or ML240 LED Light is also sold in another kit that includes the Manfrotto POCKET Tripod. The polycarbonate KLYP Case protects your iPhone from bumps, while a felt-lined interior resists scratches. The case features a standard 1/4"-20 tripod mount. It also supports Manfrotto’s four-point rail system. The ML120 LED features 12 LEDs for continuous lighting, while the ML240 LED light provides 24 LEDs for continuous lighting. The last accessory that’s included on certain KLYP Case models is the POCKET Tripod, which screws into the case’s tripod mount and provides portable stability for shooting with your iPhone 4/4S, no matter where you are.

Some of the other alternatives to the Zacuto or Manfrotto iPhone video cases and rigs include the iVideoStick, which is available in a 24-inch unit with a single handle or a 36-inch unit with two handles. The idea behind the iVideoStick is that it stabilizes your iPhone video recordings and softens camera bounce while you walk and shoot. It even features an adjustable mobile device holder, which makes it compatible with any other mobile video device less than 4-inches wide. The iVideoStick even includes a safety leash so you don’t lose your camera if you let go. It can be mounted directly on a tripod for added stability. The 36-inch model has a 36-inch diameter curve and two handles, while the 24-inch model has a 24-inch diameter curve and a single handle.

The Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone 4/4S is another affordable option. Its patented dual-bar design matches the physics of several professional rig and rail systems for DSLRs and professional video cameras. The Smoothee features a grip handle, double-rail counterweight and removable iPhone 4/4S cradle mount. They work together to create a stabilization system that allows you to float your camera smoothly in the air. This ensures steady recording while you run, walk, go up and down staircases, etc. The removable cradle mount also doubles as a tabletop stand for your iPhone 4/4S. You can attach it to a 1/4"-20 tripod head as well.

Woxom makes the Slingshot Smartphone Video Stabilizer. This system works with most smartphones including the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5—even if they’re still in a protective case. The Slingshot facilitates one-handed control for shooting video or stills, so your other hand remains free to steady yourself and prevent camera shake. Like the Steadicam Smoothee, the Slingshot features a removable cradle that can mount to a standard tripod. The hand grip is equipped with convenient pop-out legs that create an instant tabletop tripod.

The last stabilizing product we’ll look at is the compact NOVOFLEX Phone Kit. It features a high-quality mini-tripod with an adjustable ball head that easily rotates to help you achieve the perfect angle for each shot. The Phone Kit includes a dedicated iPhone 4/4S mount. However, for added compatibility, the kit includes a universal smartphone mount as well. With this level of flexibility, you can use the Phone Kit for several applications other than typical tabletop tripod recording. In fact, NOVOFLEX’s adjustable ball head features a suction cup attachment as well, which opens up dozens of video-recording possibilities. For instance, you could use the included suction cup to mount the Phone Kit to a car dashboard for filming high-speed driving sequences with your iPhone 4/4S or virtually any other smartphone. It’s also lightweight and ultra portable.

Audio, Lighting and Extra Power

There are also a few ways to improve your iPhone’s audio recording, so that the audio matches the high-quality Full HD video. The Tascam iM2 Stereo Microphone for Apple iOS devices attaches right to the 30-pin dock connector on your iPhone 4/4S. It’s also compatible with the iPad 2 and the iPod touch (4th generation). The iM2 is powered through the iPhone docking port and there’s even a USB port on the device which will charge your iPhone even when the iM2 is connected to your iPhone’s docking port. The iM2 has a maximum sound pressure level of 125 dB, which means that you can use it to record almost anything, including loud live music. Now, when you film your favorite band with your iPhone, you’ll also have high-quality audio to go with the high-def video. The iM2’s stereo condenser microphones are adjustable 180°, and a microphone preamp ensures low-noise recording. It also has adjustable input level control and a switchable limiter that attenuates high-level signals to prevent recording overload. The iM2 works with most recording apps as well, including the built-in video camera on your iPhone.

Good lighting is another way to improve your iPhone’s ability to capture quality photos and video. The Bescor LED-21 Smart Phone Light will increase your iPhone’s flash capabilities by adding 21 LEDs with a 5600K temperature. It mounts on any standard 1/8-inch (3.5mm) headphone jack and provides about six times more power than the small LED flash built into your iPhone.  It charges via USB and affords an hour of light per 90-minute charge.

The Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation Duo is another vital accessory to have if you shoot a lot of photos or video with your iPhone. It will keep you from running out of power in the middle of a shoot. The Powerstation Duo is a 6000 mAh backup battery that’s compatible with all iPhones. It can also power most USB-powered mobile devices including other smartphones and tablets. It’s equipped with dual USB charging ports that support a 2.1 amp charge, which is powerful enough to quickly charge most mobile devices. There’s a four-light “invisible” LED indicator as well. The Powerstation Duo allows you to completely recharge your iPhone quickly—even if you’re out in the field, miles from the nearest outlet. Plus, the device features a soft-touch finish with an attractive brushed-aluminum band that perfectly matches the iPhone aesthetic.

Other Unique Accessories

For iPhone owners who also shoot a lot of photography and video with a DSLR camera, the PocketDemo Flash Dock is another useful accessory that utilizes your iPhone as a photography tool. The Flash Dock is a hot-shoe adapter for smartphones including the iPhone. It mounts to the hot-shoe socket on your DSLR and allows you to use your smartphone or iPhone for geo-tagging and sharing pictures instantly. You can also use the LED flash on your iPhone for aiding the autofocus process on DSLR cameras like the Canon 5D Mark II. It works well because it offers a softer flash than traditional cobra flashes. You can download apps that will aid your photography as well. For instance, a bubble-level app combined with the Flash Dock is one way to make sure you’re shooting straight. Plus, the Flash Dock features a standard 1/4-inch tripod thread if you want to use your iPhone camera with a tripod.

Once you’ve shot all your photos or video for the day, you might want to share your work with friends and family while you’re still out in the field or on the road. Instead of having everyone crowd around your small iPhone display, why not project your photos and video clips on the nearest wall with the MiLi Pico Power Projector II? Its 30-pin docking port is compatible with the iPhone 3G/3GS and the iPhone 4/4S. It’s also compatible with iPods and iPads that have a 30-pin docking connector. The Power Projector II has several functions. First, it projects up to a 70-inch (1.8m) image using VGA 640 x 480 resolution. By connecting your iPhone via the docking port, you’ll be able to share your photos and videos with multiple people simultaneously. You can also use it to watch movies and other Web content from your iPhone. The projector even has an integrated stand, so you can just sit back and enjoy the show.

The Pico Power Projector II features a LCOS LED micro projection system that has a 20,000 hour LED lamp life. An important function of the projector is the built-in power pack that doubles your iPhone’s battery life. Even if you’re not projecting anything, you can still use the Pico Power Projector II as an external 2800 mAh power bank for charging your iPhone. For added convenience, the device is equipped with four LED power indicators so you know exactly how much power you have left and how much you’ve used. Once you’re finished sharing your photos and videos, you can undock your iPhone, put the Pico Power Projector II back in your pocket or bag and continue shooting. It’s that small!

I was thinking of putting this last iPhone photo/video accessory in with the other lens systems in this article, but I decided that it was too unique and needed its own category. The Watershot Underwater Camera Housing for iPhone 4/4S is designed for water-sports enthusiasts, families on vacation and hobbyist iPhone photographers looking to ply their craft underwater. The durable yellow housing is compatible with the iPhone 4/4S and waterproof down to a depth of 130 feet (40 m). It’s equipped with a full suspension system as well, which means that your iPhone literally “floats” inside the case. This affords maximum protection from bumps and impacts against rocks, reefs, surfboards, etc. The sealed housing also protects against sand, salt and pressure.

The housing’s integrated glass lens provides optical image clarity, which can be a problem if you’re shooting photos and video underwater with a rounded lens. A lens baffle eliminates backscatter light and halo effects. The housing also features a threaded lens bezel so you can screw on a variety of lenses and filters. Watershot is in the process of manufacturing a fisheye lens, a macro lens and several colored filters that should be available sometime in early 2013. Other features of the waterproof housing include a free downloadable app and a universal tripod mount that works with any standard 1/4"-20 tripod screw. The tripod mount also affords connection to the optional Watershot Pro Mount, which allows you to use the waterproof housing and your iPhone with all the available GoPro Mounts—essentially turning your iPhone into a waterproof action sports camera. An optional Watershot Buoyant Lanyard is available, which attaches securely to the housing and prevents it and your iPhone from sinking. The Aryca Floating Lanyard Wrist Strap is another optional lanyard that will keep your underwater housing and iPhone afloat even in rough water and waves.

For a complete list of all the available photo and video accessories for the iPhone, be sure to check out the B&H website. You’ll also find detailed descriptions for most products as well. Feel free to leave any comments about which products you like when using your iPhone for photography and movie-making.

If you have more questions about the iPhone, please contact one of our Sales Professionals via live chat, over the phone at 1-800-606-6969, or visit the B&H SuperStore in midtown Manhattan.