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Mobile accessory review: iStabilizer tripod mount

11
Using the iStabilizer to mount the Nokia Lumia 920 on a tripod allowed me to capture a better quality image of the Seattle sunset.

Image quality of smartphone cameras gets better with every new device generation. However, despite new sensor technologies and first attempts to implement optical image stabilization, for example on the Nokia Lumia 920, low light capture is still an area where smartphones lack behind dedicated compact cameras.

At higher ISOs the tiny smartphone sensors typically produce more noise than even very basic digicams, which means the results are often less than satisfactory. When shooting with a camera you can significantly improve the quality of your low light and night photograpy by mounting the device on a tripod. This allows you to select lower ISO settings and a slow shutter speed. Of course this doesn't typically work if there are any moving subjects in the scene. That said, by mounting your camera on a tripod and using slow shutter speeds also helps capture motion, for example, light trails created by the headlights of a car or a flowing waterfall or river.

In theory, you could do all these things with your smartphone too (and an app that allows you to use long shutter speeds) but smartphones don't have a tripod mount. There is a variety of tripod brackets and smartphone holders available, but so far we haven't been convinced by any of them -- they tend to be flimsy or simply don't hold the device very well, resulting in shaky images or possibly even dropping your costly device.

The iStabilizer holds the device securely ... 
 ... but doesn't obstruct the screen, allowing for normal operation.

The iStabilizer is a welcome exception. Its spring-loaded bracket holds your phone very tightly but at the same time the small contact points ensure it doesn't cover any part of your screen or interfere with any of your phone's buttons. The contact points are covered with a foam-like material at the bottom and rubber on the moving upper part. Despite partly being made out of plastic, the iStabilizer makes a reasonably solid impression, but we'll have to see how it hold up under sustained heavy use.

The iStabilizer comes in two sizes. The standard version holds devices of up to 7cm width. This includes all iPhones and reasonably dimensioned Android phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus or the Droid Razr MAXX. The larger XL version even holds "phablets" such as the Samsung Galaxy Note. It's also recommended for use with slightly larger phones such as the Google Nexus 4 or the Nokia Lumia 920. However, without a case the latter just fit the standard version, too, as you can see in the pictures above.

Overall the iStabilizer is a worthy investment if you are planning to take night shots or self portraits with your phone. It holds your device tightly without scratching or otherwise damaging it and still gives you full access to all buttons and the screen. It's small enough to always carry in combination with a mini-tripod if you want to be prepared for that special shot at any time.

What we like: Tight grip, small and lightweight, works with a variety of phones

What we don't like: little more expensive than other brackets, needs very strong tightening on some tripod plates

Rating:


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Comments

Total comments: 11
Biowizard
By Biowizard (Feb 4, 2013)

Chinese Junk ... I ordered an iStablizer "Dolly" and an iStablizer "Glass" device, each from one of two different Amazon vendors. This stuff was getting good reviews on the photo forums.

Well, the "dolly" arrived in bits and pieces, showing scuff marks where someone else had clumsily assembled it, played with it, then pulled it to bits and just chucked everything back into the box, and one of the wheels was stiff and didn't want to turn. Sent it back to Amazon on Friday.

Today, I tried using "glass", the suction cup thing. And it turned out that its tripod screw had been badly machined, and would not fit into the standard tripod socket on the mounting device. Sent it back to Amazon today.

Friday was the first time I have EVER returned faulty goods to Amazon, and now I've done a second time in as many working days. Both devices designed in America, and made in China. But unlike the iPhone or the iPad, this was true Chinese Junk.

0 upvotes
iStabilizer
By iStabilizer (Mar 1, 2013)

Hello, it sounds like you received a defective product. Unfortunately, some of the products being sold on Amazon are knockoffs of our products and others might be used or defective. It's possible you received on of those? I'm sorry you had a bad experience with our products. We do offer a full 30 day refund and 1 year warranty on all of our products so if you ever find yourself in need of one of our products be sure to order it directly on our website to ensure the product is of the highest quality. Also, the Glass comes with the Mount already attached to the base so you shouldn't have any problems with it fitting. You may have received an old version? Again, I apologize for the experience and I know that first impressions can't be fixed but please rest assured that we do listen to all feedback and we work to continually improve our products and the customer buying experience.

0 upvotes
kff
By kff (Jan 18, 2013)

N808 is an interesting, but why doesn't it have tripod mount... ?

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Jan 18, 2013)

There aren't exactly many phones with a tripod mount around :-)

1 upvote
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Jan 17, 2013)

Just curious why if you care enough about the shot to pack a tripod, you wouldn't also just bring a "real" camera? Seems to work well, I just usually think of cell phone photography in terms of unplanned convenience vs premeditated to the point of bringing specialized gear.

3 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Jan 17, 2013)

I agree with the point you are making, I mainly used the large tripod in this article for illustrative purposes. In reality I would see most people using this device with a mini-tripod that you can easily carry anywhere you go. That said, at dpreview we use cellphones on tripods all the time for our testing.

4 upvotes
solarsky
By solarsky (Jan 18, 2013)

Abend Lars, hatte irre Schwierigkeiten, ein Exemplar des Nokia HH-23 für mein Nokia 808 zu besorgen (könnte womöglich auch zum Nokia 920 kompatibel sein...); heute erwischte ich das - meinen Recherchen zur Verfügbarkeit nach - LETZTE in Deutschland irgendwo lieferbare Exemplar (in den USA (Amazon.com) ist auch schlechte/keine Lieferbarkeit). Gibt's irgendwas worauf ich bei der Verwendung des Nokia HH-23 in Kombination mit dem Nokia 808 besonders acht geben sollte? Irgendwelche Kurz-Tipps? Danke schonmal ;-)

1 upvote
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Jan 18, 2013)

Hallo und Glueckwunsch, das Teil scheint wirklich ueberall ausverkauft zu sein, auch bei Amazon US. Wir hatten einen bei unserem 808 dabei aber ich kann ehrlich gesagt nix besonderes zu sagen. Schien gut zu funktionieren und haelt die Kamera gut, auf jeden Fall besser als einige der anderen Telefon-Halter, die wir hier schon ausprobiert haben. Auf jeden Fall viel Spass damit, das 808 is bisher das mit Abstand beste camera phone!

1 upvote
Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
By Kendall Helmstetter Gelner (Jan 20, 2013)

I could see using the phone for video while you are using a real camera for shots... so then it's still worth having something you can shoot stable video from.

1 upvote
solarsky
By solarsky (Jan 20, 2013)

@Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
That's especially the case when using a Sigma-camera for the photos ;-)

1 upvote
Biowizard
By Biowizard (Feb 4, 2013)

I wanted (or rather, still want) mounting options for my iPhones, for use with time-lapse and stop-motion applications. These are things that, with the correct apps, iOS devices do better than my DSLR.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 11
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