The holidays are almost upon us, and that means it's time to run out and buy lots of presents. We've saved you some of the headache with this holiday gift guide for the mobile photography enthusiasts you love.
As your arsenal of mobile devices increases, so do the smudges they bear. The Toddy Smart Cloth is a 100% premium microfiber cleaning cloth designed for smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, and even eyeglasses or camera lenses. Heck, if it's got a screen, the Toddy Smart Cloth can clean it.
One of the benefits of the Toddy Smart Cloth is that it's dual-sided. The plush underside cleans while the silky top layer polishes. An antimicrobial coating on the cloth battles mold and mildew buildup, and there's no need to use liquids or sprays during cleaning -- the Toddy Smart Cloth does all the work.
It comes in a plethora of photography-forward designs, including camera lens art, film strips and even an 1800s field view camera print. The Toddy Smart Cloth comes in a 5 x 7-inch rectangle size or 9 x 9-inch square size and is machine washable.
What we like: It's a premium microfiber smudge buster.
What we don't like: We'd like to see a Dpreview design ...
www.smartouchgloves.com, around $25/£15
Mobile photography is a blast when the weather is warm, but what happens when Old Man Winter freezes everything over? Most traditional gloves enable enough dextertity for operating a DSLR, but touch screens are out of the question. Fortunately, Isotoner has created smarTouch gloves to solve the conundrum.
Isotoner smarTouch gloves feature fingertips and thumbs that are embroidered with a conductive thread, which conveys electrical impulses to capacitive touchscreens. That means the smarTouch gloves are fully capable of swiping, pinching and zooming, and tapping just like a bare hand. Not only are the gloves ideal for smartphones, but they also work on ATM screens and MP3 players for added versatility.
Isotoner offers men's and women's smarTouch gloves in a variety of materials, as well as colors and styles; the smarTouch 2.0 models have conductivity embroidery on additional fingers.
What we like: Year-round mobile photography!
What we don't like: How about a heated model?
One of the most peculiar looking and highly useful items on this list, the Gorillapod GripTight from Joby gives your smartphone seemingly unlimited options for shooting angles. The unique tripod features legs that are constructed from polycarbonate-ABS plastic balls and joints lined with TPE rubber grip pads to eliminate slipping. The tripod can be extended and set on the ground for traditional use, or it can be configured to wrap around objects like branches and fences.
The Joby Gorillapod GripTight measures 3.4 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches (86 x 30 x 173mm), so it's highly compact and extremely lightweight at 2.4 ounces (67 grams). In the past, Joby offered the Gorillapod Mobile, which only suited iPhones, but the Gorillapod GripTight hosts all sorts of smartphones including the Samsung Galaxy S III, Droid RAZR and HTC EVO.
The added versatility comes from the GripTight head, which is has internal steel springs that expand and clamp the unit down snugly on the smartphone. Rubberized panels keep the phone in place while protecting the surface of the phone. Thanks to this universal design, phones with cases can be supported and the GripTight head can be mounted to a standard telescoping leg tripod or any other Gorillapod via the 1/4 20-inch screw.
What we like: Oodles of angles.
What we don't like: Not practical for shoots in the middle of nowhere, mounting smartphone vertically sacrifices height.
There are droves of smartphone lenses on the market, but the Photojojo gang is one of the premiere fleets. Photojojo lenses are made of solid aluminum and outfitted with thick, high-clarity glass. They're also universal, thanks to an adhesive magnetic ring that encircles the lens of the smartphone. Lenses simply snap in place and are ready to shoot within seconds.
Photojojo lenses come in three different flavors, one of which is a 2-in-1. The fisheye lens is an ultra-wide angle glass that makes everything look like it was shot from within a marble. Images retain that rounded look popularized in skateboard videos from the early '90s. Then there's the 2X telephoto lens, which doubles your focal length -- a welcome boost for devices with notoriously negative zoom effects. Lastly, the 0.67X wide angle and macro combination lens is the most versatile. By screwing off the wide angle lens, the macro lens can be accessed for documenting the more meticulous details of life.
Of course, Photojojo offers all three lenses in a kit, which saves $15. In addition to augmenteing rear-mounted smartphone glass, the Photojojo lenses can also alter the perspectives of tablet lenses, including front-facing cameras. Having a video call with a fisheye lens could be a neat experience.
What we like: Four different focal lengths in your pocket.
What we don't like: Adhesive mounts must be mounted properly and are prone to wear, flash will be blocked while lenses are in use.
Smartphones are highly portable, but that means they're very difficult to stabilize compared to something like a 5D Mark III. This is particularly evident in videos, as most amateur smartphone footage is a jittery mess. The Tiffen Steadicam Smoothee aims to quell jitter and slay the effects of rolling shutter. Similar to many digital camera stabilizers, the Steadycam Smoothee features an orbital handle with tubular aluminum frame. Weights are located on the bottom of the frame and in the middle, the latter being adjustable.
On top of the Smoothee is an apparatus that’s similar to a tripod head, offering the ability to shift the unit from side to side and forward and backward via dials for minute adjustment and counterweight compensation. This is where the iPhone clamp attaches snugly in place. The entire design of the Steadicam Smoothee is solid and seamless. Unfortunatley, the Smoothee only accommodates iPhones, so hopefully there will be additional compatibility for other models in the future.
The Tiffen Steadicam Smoothee is designed to make iPhone videos smoother, and it succeeds. I ran a few tests shooting with and without the Steadicam Smoothee and the results were dramatic. That detestable "bounce" created by rolling shutter was gone, and videos appeared significantly less jittery. The Steadicam Smoothee also enabled me to capture better still images, since I was able to angle my iPhone precisely using the Smoothee’s orbital handle.
What we like: A smartphone stabilizer with digital camera DNA.
What we don't like: iPhone exclusive, a bit expensive.
The Owle HD Video Kit for iPhone is the Rolls Royce of mobile video production cases, resembling something out of a James Bond movie. It's the most expensive (some will argue unnecessary) item on our list, but we couldn't leave it out because it's far too unique. If your gift recipient is in the market for an extravagant all-in-one video production rig for his or her iPhone 4/4S, read on.
A couple big things are happening with the Owle HD Video Kit. First off, the Owle branded Bubo iPhone 4/4S case is used to house the phone. The Bubo features a 37mm .45x wide-angle/macro combo lens, in addition to a miniature shotgun Vericorder microphone that plugs into the 3.5mm audio jack. The mount itself is constructed of solid aluminum and a silicone sleeve keeps the phone in place. Owle includes a lens cap for the 37mm glass, which can accept filters and attachments, courtesy of threads.
Atop the Bubo case sits the Rotolight RL48-B HD LED Ringlight, which slots right into the case's accessory shoe. The Rotolight comes with a set of color correction filters, as well as neutral density filters and a diffusion filter for softer skin tones. The kit comes with the Rotolight Belt Pouch, which enables the user to carry everything in one bag that attaches to a belt.
What we like: High quality iPhone video production in a bag.
What we don't like: Only available for iPhone 4/4S, a bit pricey.
iPads are becoming the computer of choice for photographers who are always out in the field because they're highly portable, and the new models feature the captivating Retina display. The main issue most photographers have is keeping all of their files in one place. The official iPad camera connection kit only has USB and SD card slots, which attach separately. The M.I.C Gadget All-in-one Card Reader for iPad aims to solve that conundrum.
The All-in-one Reader hosts MicroSD, CF, SD and USB connections, and offers an optional power input for increased longevity. Only one slot can be used at a time due to software limitations, but all ports are available in one single dongle. JPEG and RAW image files are supported, while H.264, MPEG-4 and Motion JPEG video files are supported.
While the All-in-one Reader is ideal for DSLR photographers out in the field, mobile photographers will benefit greatly from the MicroSD and USB inputs. Quick edits can be made in iPhoto and iMovie, then files can be promptly uploaded to Flickr or YouTube. This is an ideal tool for photojournalists, and great for on-location photographers who want to preview images to clients on the spot.
What we like: Photography-friendly connections all in one spot.
What we don't like: No love for the Lightning-enabled iPad Mini or iPad 4 ... yet.
If the Owle HD Video Kit is too intimidating to your wallet, Manfrotto makes a more budget-friendly option. The Manfrotto Klyp is a polycarbonate iPhone 4/4S case that features modular functionality for attaching different Manfrotto LED lights and 1/4-inch mount Manfrotto tripods. The Klyp comes with the Manfrotto ML240 Mini-24 Continuous LED light, which runs on two AAA batteries and can be rotated forward or backwards to accommodate the front and rear cameras.
The two included snap-on adapters can support any compatible Manfrotto light or tripod, including the included miniature Pocket tripod, shown above. Manfrotto went with continuous LED light due to the iPhone's rolling shutter, which cannot be synched with strobes. The interior of the Klyp case is lined with felt inserts to protect the phone's exterior, and the case can be used independently of the light and tripod mount for everyday use.
Compared to the Owle HD Video kit, the Manfrotto Klyp is definitely not as powerful because it lacks lens and microphone enhancements and is made of plastic rather than solid aluminum. However, the Klyp will provide light and tripod options for iPhone users, and is a fraction of the price.
What we like: Lots of light and stability.
What we don't like: A converter lens or two would have been nice.
While individual lens attachments like those Photojojo lenses are nifty, there are a few drawbacks. First, each lens attachment must be individually mounted and removed. Secondly, those lenses rely on adhesive rings that could lose their bond strength over time. The Holga Filter Case solves those two problems, and adds the versatility of a phone case.
The Holga Filter Case is a plastic iPhone 4/4S case that features a rotary telephone-style filter selector. Just turn the dial and the camera's perspective is altered instantly. The Holga Filter Case offers nine different filters and includes an empty hole for taking native images without any effects.
There are Dual, Triple and Quadruple Image lenses for creating muliple panes of the same image, a 60mm Macro lens for capturing images as close as 60mm, and red, green and yellow filters. In addition, the Holga Filter Case has a yellow filter with clear center, blue filter with clear center and a red filter with a clear heart-shaped center. The Holga Filter Case is not a professional tool, but it's certainly a fun stocking stuffer.
What we like: An arsenal of lens filters and effects without the hassle.
What we don't like: Not for advanced photographers.
Lugging around an unprotected expensive tablet will only add stress to a shoot day. The Golla Gibb Tablet Pocket is a stylish way to prevent screen scratches and nicks.
Made from a 100% cotton exterior and 100% polyester interior, the Golla Gibb is a plush receptacle for any tablet. It measures 215 x 280mm (8.5 x 11.0-inches), which is large enough to host most major tablets like iPads and Galaxy Tabs.
The Golla Gibb has a Velcro holding strap to prevent the tablet from slipping out, as well as a zippered outer pocket for cables and business cards. There's a hand strap on the back of the case, as well as a Velcro headphone flap to hold the wires in place.
What we like: Carry your expensive tablet in style and prevent scratches.
What we don't like: Not much protection from a hard drop.
There are a few macro lenses on the market for the iPhone, and most of them perform quite impressively. I've used the Olloclip macro lens and the magnified detail I was able to capture with an iPhone 4 was fantastic. But what if you took a standard Macro lens like that and gave it about 10 times the power?
The Restoration Hardware 100x Ultra Zoom Lens for the iPhone 4/4S would be the result. It's basically an LED-enhanced microscope built into a rubberized iPhone 4/4S case. Two dials on the top of the lens control focus and the LED light, and we're thinking there's a whole lot of fine-tuning that needs to be done to properly illuminate a dust mite.
The 100x Ultra Zoom Lens comes with three LR1130 watch batteries, which power the LED light, but there's no word on a carrying case or instruction manual. If your loved one is obsessed with life's miniature worlds, then this could be the ticket.
What we like: The largest zoom available for the iPhone.
What we don't like: iPhone only, may take some time to perfect.
Sometimes, a traditional field of view just won't cut it. What happens when the fleeting action happens behind you and by the time you turn around to capture it, you've already missed the shot? The GoPano Micro is an answer, providing 360-degree video capture on an iPhone 4/4S or iPhone 5.
The GoPano Micro comes with a custom-designed iPhone case and Micro Lens attachment. The lens attachement features a specially designed curved mirror that gathers light from all the directions and reflects it into a secondary mirror, which again reflects it back into the iPhone’s camera. This creates the ability to capture 360-degree videos that can be clicked and dragged during playback.
Users have to download the GoPano application before recording videos. Videos can be uploaded to www.gopano.com and hosted for free, allowing users to embed them across the web. Unfortunately, there's no support for still image photography.
What we like: 360-degree panoramic videos made easy.
What we don't like: Does not do still photos.
Instagram Cell Phone Cases
It comes as no surprise that one of the latest smartphone case fads has to do with Instagram. Two of the more prominent case makers are Casetagram and Instacanvas. These companies enable customers to upload images from Instagram and have them printed on a custom phone case. Instacanvas uses high-quality Casemate cases, but only offers these for the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5. Casetagram models fit iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5, iPad 2 and 3, iPod Touch 4 and 5, Samsung Galaxy SII and SIII, and Samsung Galaxy Note and Note II.
Images can be configured in different patterns, filter effects, sizes and more. Casetagram also offers gift certificates: if your loved one hasn't found the perfect case for their phone yet, let them design it themselves.
What we like: Show off your photography every time you talk on the phone.
What we don't like: How about support for additional makes and models?