Pimp Your iPhone for Photography Zen
The iPhone makes taking photos nearly effortless. It’s a camera in your pocket or purse wherever you go, and the massive number of apps and accessories make shooting photos with the device an art and culture of its own, which in many circles is known as iPhoneography.
Some of the following gadgets and accessories are part of my iPhone camera arsenal, and others are recommendations that I find useful. All are designed to make shooting with an iPhone an even better experience.
Your iPhone fitted in a snuggly case, makes for a good grip when shooting photos, but you might to check out Photojojo’s iPhone Shutter Grip ($40.00), which makes your iPhone feel a little more like a traditional point-and-shoot camera, with the shutter button at the top.
The iPhone comes with its own useful photo taking accessories, and that is the earphones. If you don’t it know yet, the volume up button on Apple’s earphones, and some third-party earphones, can be used to activate the shutter for the iPhone camera app, and other third-party camera apps.
This is a useful accessory for when you’re tying to shoot macro shots, when you’re shooting with the phone on a tripod or when you’re shooting in low light. It can also be useful for shooting self-portraits.
If you want to shoot great photos, at some point you need to invest in a tripod and tripod mount. I purchased the tripod mount pictured below a few years ago, but I am now unable to find the makers of the gadget. There are other alternatives, though, like the popular for the iPhone 5.
For those of you on a tight budget, you can also make yourself a DIY tripod mount using Tina’s guide (though you’ll still need to buy the tripod).
Another useful original Kickstarter gadget I use on occasion is the Woxom SlingShot ($19.99), which can be used as a tabletop tripod, a phone holder for stabilizing video shots, or a tripod mount. The rubber epistatic holder allows you to mount your camera even with a case on it.
If you really want smooth video you can pay top-whack for a Steadicam Smoothee from Tiffen, a company that specialize in making high-end stabilization systems for professionals. The Smoothee can be had for around $169, though if you start looking the Internet is full of DIY versions you can make too.
If you want to explore underwater photography, or if you find yourself trying to shoot in conditions in which your iPhone gets exposed to water, a waterproof case might be one of the smartest investments you can make. I own a Lifeproof case ($79.99), which I’ve only tested so far in my bathroom sink.
I didn’t see any leaks in my waterproof test, but the case has received mixed reviews, so be sure to test the case before you buy it for any substantial or long-term underwater use.
I haven’t purchased an external lens for my iPhone, but this Olloclip 3-in-One Lens System ($69.95) for the iPhone 5 has received mostly favorable reviews on Amazon. This is a macro, fisheye, and wide-angle lens that can be useful for more creative shots.
The Sanoxy 12x Telephoto lenses for the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5 are affordable telephoto lenses, that provide some reach you can’t get with the default camera lens. Photojojo also sells a pack of keychain size Jelly Camera Phone ($15.00) Filters that can add add kaleidoscopic, wide angle, and starbursts to your photographic repertoire.
If you find that your photos often have a purple lens flare, you might want to check camHoodie Lens Hood Case for the iPhone 5, which reduces that type of colorization.
For more tips about shooting with a clip-on lens, check out Tim’s article about smartphone photography and external lenses . Cult Of Mac also has a guide for makeshift DIY iPhone camera filters and lenses using common objects like sunglasses, mirrors, binoculars, and even vaseline for a dreamy soft focus effect.
Anytime you take your phone out on an extended photo shoot, the battery will inevitably drain quickly and one way of getting round this is to bring a backup. I like the Jockery battery ($39.95) which comes in smaller sizes than the one below. I stick the charger in my back pocket or hip bag with the phone attached to an extended USB cord.
The Mophie Juice Pack ($72.00), available for the iPhone 4/4S and 5, and the Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation ($79.95), also get good reviews from iPhone photographers. We’ve also previously rounded up the five best battery cases for the iPhone 5 , complete with comparisons for each.
If you do get stuck, be sure to check out these ideas for charging your iPhone while out on a shoot.
We have reviewed many iPhone camera apps, so you definitely want to have a folder of photo apps that extend the reach and capabilities of the iPhone camera. My top recommendations include ProCamera or Camera+ for control and Fast Camera or SnappyCam for high speed photography. The Instagram and Hipstamatic ($1.99) apps are useful for enhancing and applying filters to images, as well as Nancy Messieh’s recommendation, VSCO Cam app (Free), reviewed in this article .
The above are my personal recommendations for iPhone apps and accessories. What are yours? Let us know in the comment section below. And if you’re new to iPhone photography, be sure to read my beginner and advanced guide to the subject, as well as my free MUO Essential Guide to Digital Photography .
Image credit: iPhone on miniSkates via Flickr
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