Smartphones continue to improve, allowing people to rely on them more and more for their photography and videography needs. iPhone technology is catching up to that of high-end digital cameras, too, and as camera sensors have improved, so has video capability, which now offers up to 4K resolution.
Whether you’re capturing your family vacation or working on a film project, you don’t want your video to look shaky and unstable. By simply holding your iPhone with your bare hands, you risk having a trembling, difficult-to-watch video. The fix? An iPhone stabilizer.
The iPhone Gimbal Stabilizer
There are all different kinds of stabilizers that can be used to get a broad range of shots. A gimbal is a common type of iPhone stabilizer, giving the operator the freedom of handheld shooting while still preventing camera shake and vibration. Gimbals are powered by brushless motors, keeping the camera level even as the operator moves it. Even if you’re moving quickly, an iPhone gimbal stabilizer will prevent bumpy shots.
Though newer iPhones have better optical stabilization, it still isn’t able to replace the production value of an actual stabilizer, making it a much-needed accessory if you’re going to be moving around (even slightly) while shooting video.
iPhone Stabilizer Options and Considerations
Most people want the highest quality stabilizer available for the lowest price possible. However, experienced videographers may want a slightly more expensive stabilizer because they often have advanced features, while beginner videographers are often happy with simpler stabilizers. Below, we have a selection of professional-quality stabilizers, as well as a few that are specifically for budget shoppers.
Other considerations you want to keep an eye out for include durability and material; weight, compactness and travel capability; battery time; rotating capabilities; and extra features.
Here are five of the best iPhone gimbal stabilizers for mobile videography:
DJI Osmo Mobile
The DJI Osmo Mobile has image stabilization and tracking, regardless of what you’re filming. The three-axis gimbal system can be held in four positions – standard, underslung, portrait and flashlight – allowing you to get any shot you need, even abstract and artistic ones.
The handle has a shutter button and joystick control, and it will connect with your device via Bluetooth. The handle also has controls for ISO, shutter speed and white balance. Additionally, the Osmo Mobile has a motion time-lapse feature, as well as live streaming capability.
Some people have found the DJI GO app to be buggy or to find that bobbling or shuddering occurs.
The Osmo Mobile will provide up to four and a half hours of continuous use.
The FeiyuTech SPG Plus three-axis, handheld gimbal lets you rotate your phone in any direction while keeping it recording in either horizontal or vertical mode. The sliding arm mechanism keeps your iPhone balanced at all times. Features include a dual handle; 100 degree rolling, 320 degree tilting, and unlimited panning with single-tap control; intelligent face tracking; and time-lapse shooting.
Some find this gimbal to be on the heavy side and difficult to travel with, and beginner videographers may find it tricky to calibrate. This gimbal is compatible with the Feiyu ON app, though some users have had responsiveness issues with iOS.
The Ikan Fly-X3-PLUS has a six-axis inertial measurement chip and a three-axis accelerometer that will keep your iPhone steady as you shoot handheld video footage. This is similar to the optical image stabilization technology technology of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. (Note that this device isn’t intended for pan and tilt shooting.) As your hand and arm shake, the FLY-X3-PLUS will correct for even small movements thanks to the gesture control system, keeping your phone steady throughout shooting. There’s also a counterweight that can be used with bigger iPhones, like the 7 and 7 Plus. The FLY-X3-PLUS is easy to setup and use, and its battery life is three hours.
The LanParte HHG-01 Handheld Gimbal comes with two adjustable smartphone clamps, plus two counterweights so that you can get the right fit and balance for your iPhone. The three-axis gimbal doesn’t have a joystick, but it does adjust to stay steady as your wrist moves. Stabilization is available for panning, rolling and tilting.
This gimbal is one of the leading choices for travelers because it’s lightweight and compact. Though it doesn’t weigh much, the housing of the HHG-01 is sturdy and it has a secure, non-slip grip made with silica gel.
The internal, rechargeable lithium-ion battery is removable and will last for approximately three hours. The HHG-01 also comes with a nylon carrying case.
This lightweight, three-axis gimbal can be controlled from afar with the ZY Play app. Note that some users say the app can be tricky to use because it’s lacking in instructions.
The five-way joystick of the Zhiyun Smooth 2 controls 360 degrees of pan, and 320 degrees each of tilt and roll. Additional features include a dedicated shutter button; a rapid-start function; a smart face tracking option; and noise reduction.
The battery life of the Smooth 2 is five hours, and you can also use it to charge your iPhone (a helpful feature, because shooting video can quickly drain your smartphone battery).
If you’re just starting to experiment with shooting iPhone video or you need a second, less expensive stabilizer to take with you when you’re on-the-go, consider these three budget-friendly options.
X-CAM Gimbal Folding 2 Axis Handheld Stabilizer
The X-CAM Gimbal Folding 2 Axis Handheld Stabilizer is convenient to travel with and quickly use or store thanks to its portable, folding design. Since this iPhone stabilizer is pocket-sized, it’s an excellent option if you don’t want to travel with extra camera equipment or bags.
This gimbal has a two-axis stabilization system that spins forward and sideways, ridding the video of fuzziness and jitters. It’s adjustable for up and down angles, and also has Bluetooth capability without requiring an app.
Setting up the X-CAM can be tricky for some users, especially with phones on the heavier side, but once you’ve balanced the gimbal for the first time, using it becomes easier.
The X-CAM comes with a velvet bag to keep the device free of dust when it’s not in use. The X-CAM’s battery time is two to five hours of constant filming; battery time will vary based on the weight of the phone.
The Steadicam Smoothee by Tiffen is popular with sports fans who want to capture action-packed moments. Highly adaptable and designed with sturdy metal, the Smoothee is a great option if you’re going to be shooting in rough locations. It’s also agile, compact and lightweight, making it easy to travel with, and the grip is ergonomic and comfortable.
Videos taken with the Smoothee are incredibly smooth and bounce-free, and the iPhone mount can also be used as a tabletop tripod. Note that even though the Smoothee is on our budget list, it’s still considered a professional-grade gimbal, and the learning curve can be steep.
The Zeadio Ergonomic Swivel Smartphone Handheld Grip Stabilizer is both a tripod and an iPhone stabilizer. The multi-use tripod and full 360 degree rotation gives you the perfect viewing angle every time. It’s ideal for streaming live video for social media platforms.
Some users have said that the structure feels on the light and cheap side, but as far as budget gimbal stabilizers go, the Zeadio does what it’s intended to do. However, since some have found it somewhat flimsy, it may not be a great option for adventure travel videographers or anyone who’s going to be shooting in rough locations.
We recommend the DJI Osmo Mobile and the Zhiyun Smooth 2 stabilizers if you’re not looking for a budget gimbal.
The DJI Osmo Mobile is ideal for videographers who want something they can start to use quickly, as it’s very easy to learn how to use. It’s a reliable, smooth gimbal that allows for high quality videos, and it has great extras that many other gimbals don’t have. With advanced image stabilization and tracking, the gimbal can be held in four different positions to allow for any shot, including artistic ones. The handle has a variety of controls and the gimbal also has advanced features like live streaming and time-lapse.
The lightweight Zhiyun Smooth 2 has a five-way joystick with pan, tilt and roll control. Extra features include rapid-start, face tracking and noise reduction. The battery life of the Zhiyun is a bit longer than that of the DJI Osmo Mobile, and the stabilizer can also be used to charge your smartphone.
For budget shoppers, we recommend the Tiffen Steadicam Smoothee or the Zeadio Ergonomic Swivel Smartphone Handheld Grip Stabilizer.
The Steadicam Smoothee is ideal for sports fans who want to capture fast-paced action, or anyone who will be shooting in a coarse or rugged location. The iPhone mount doubles as a tabletop tripod and the entire stabilizer system is lightweight enough to travel with. We feel that the Smoothee is the most professional-grade gimbal you’ll find at a budget price.
The Zeadio Ergonomic Swivel Smartphone Handheld Grip Stabilizer also acts as both an iPhone stabilizer and a tripod, and users love it for live streaming to their social media feeds. This gimbal isn’t recommended for anyone who will be filming in a rugged location, though, as it’s not as sturdy as the Smoothee.
Tripods have always been an handy piece of photographic equipment. They provide a steady and stable hold on the camera making them essential for shooting long exposure, in low light or situations when you just don’t want the camera to move.
Don’t think though, that the tripod is for sole use with a big DSLR camera, there are a growing number of iPhone tripods and mounts which now make it possible for iPhone photographers to capture light trails, low light conditions or the odd impromptu selfie. When taking a self portrait, an iPhone tripod will let you position the phone farther away from you than you could hold it, and you can also tilt it to the perfect angle. Capturing a shot in low light requires the phone to be kept as still as possible, and a tripod cuts down on camera shake. Tripods are also great for positioning your phone in a hard-to-reach angle or for taking long-exposure photos.
When you’re photographing with an iPhone, you’ll want a portable tripod instead of a more heavy-duty model designed specifically for DSLRs. At the same time, you need a tripod that will keep your iPhone safe – you likely rely on your phone for much more than photography, and you can’t risk it for the sake of a photo opportunity.
With so many iPhone compatible tripods to choose from, and with each tripod option offering something slightly different, it’s difficult to narrow down what is right for you. Here, we have compiled a list of 11 of the best iPhone tripods available and a guide to choosing the right tripod for your iPhone photography.
Simply the Best
What makes a great iPhone tripod? Durability and quality; portability; and custom features, like quick release levers and range of adjustability. We’ve listed several models worthy of your attention. Each has its own set of pros and cons, so check out our run down of 11 of the best iPhone tripods and camera mounts on the market at the moment.
Square Jellyfish Jelly Grip Tripod Mount
The Square Jellyfish Jelly Grip Tripod Mount is small and light enough to stash in your backpack or pocket. This is Square Jellyfish’s third generation tripod mount, and they’ve moved the ball joint from the mount’s base to the center of the phone for improved balance and positioning. The ball joint tension can be adjusted, too.
The main drawback of this product is that the plastic threads can cause reliability problems, which vary between customers and smartphone models. The more frequently you use the mount, the more of a problem it can become. The company has an alternative mount made from metal that some users have better luck with.
The JOBY GripTight ONE Micro Stand can be used on smartphones with or without a case in order to keep your phone upright in any shooting situation. Compact and foldable, the mount is small enough to fit in your pocket or attach to a key ring. The spring-loaded grip makes it easy to get your phone into or out of the mount in seconds.
Though this stand is durable and comes with a warranty, larger phones (like large Android models) may be more stable with bigger tripods, like the Square Jellyfish Jelly Grip Tripod Mount. You can also try removing your phone case if it’s too overpowering for the stand.
The JOBY GripTight ONE can be used with your iPhone whether you have a case on it or not. This universal phone holder system has a variety of mounting options, including the magnetic GorillaPod (a tripod with adjustable legs) and the Micro Stand. The tripod’s rubber foot grips and the mount’s wide jaws make it possible to stabilize your iPhone on practically any surface.
Order the mount only (which can attach to just about any tripod) or get it bundled with other tripod options. JOBY is know for its quality tripod and mounting products, so the only drawback with the ONE system is that you can’t get everything bundled together.
The JOBY GripTight PRO Phone clamping mount and optional tripod will securely hold your smartphone in any shooting situation. The difference between this JOBY product and the others on this list is its higher quality – the premium build is made from ABS plastic, TPE grip pads and stainless steel plates.
Though this tripod and mount system isn’t as small as the others on this list, its slightly larger size is what makes it a bit more reliable and durable. Plus, it can even support some DSLR models if you need a tripod in a hurry (note that frequent use with a DSLR is not suggested).
Lightweight and portable, the legs of the Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod even look sturdy and durable. If you need to move your camera around while shooting, close the legs to use the tripod as a grip. A key feature of this tripod is the rapid push button lock system for head adjustment, which lets you position and lock the ball head in one movement.
Even though the PIXI is undoubtedly a solid tripod for flat surfaces, its main disadvantage is that it’s not adjustable in the same way the GorillaPod is. We love this tripod so much, though, that we’d suggest getting it even if you need a second tripod with wrapping legs.
The Manfrotto Befree Aluminum Travel Tripod is both lightweight and durable, perfect for photographers on-the-go. The tripod can handle up to 4 kilograms of weight, which means you can mount your camera even if you’re using an add-on iPhone lens (and it can support some DSLRs as well).
This tripod has a couple of key features, one of which is the quick folding system for easy setup and break down. The quick release plate allows for immediate setup, and when you’re ready to pack up, the legs perfectly fold around the head. It also comes with a padded shoulder bag for comfortable transportation.
The Pocket Tripod is even smaller than it sounds – it can fit in your wallet, not just your pocket, and is the size of two stacked credit cards. Store it flat, then twist and flip its modules to transform it into a tripod. It can be used whether or not your phone has a case on it, and it will hold your device in either portrait or landscape position.
The website is serious about finding the right fit, and if you can’t seem to make heads or tails of the many options to choose from, request a “fit card” for measuring. Meant for flat surfaces, it may not be a great option for travel or adventure photographers, but it’s possibly the most convenient tripod for traditional use.
Now that you’ve seen what’s out there, let’s take another look at our checklist for narrowing down your options.
JOBY tends to corner the market when it comes to quality tripod products, particularly for smartphones, but if you have a larger phone, like a big Android model, you may want to opt for the Square Jellyfish product instead. However, if you’re going to be using the tripod mount frequently, consider upgrading to the metal version, or purchase either the JOBY GripTight PRO Phone or the Manfrotto Befree Aluminum Travel Tripod.
If you have a small budget to work with, the Square Jellyfish Jelly Grip Tripod Mount and the Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod are both worth considering. Both products are sturdy and allow for great positioning, though they can only be used for regular mounting as they don’t have adjustable legs that wrap around different surfaces. For a few more dollars, you can have the Pocket Tripod, which is also intended for flat surfaces and is the most portable option.
The Manfrotto Befree Aluminum Travel Tripod has the best folding mechanism, which is ideal for photographers who need to get setup for shots quickly and head off to find the next one immediately after. It also comes with its own carrying case, which is useful if you know you won’t have extra room in your luggage. If you tend to shoot from difficult angles, or if you want a second tripod just for flat surfaces, we can’t think of anything more convenient than the tiny, flat Pocket Tripod.
4 iPhone Camera Mounts For Your Tripod
Shoulderpod S1 Professional Smartphone Rig
The Shoulderpod S1 Professional Smartphone Rig has three distinct elements and functions: Tripod Mount, Filmmaker Grip and Traveler Stand. The adjustable pressure screw and wide rubber pads hold just about any smartphone model snugly; the rig can connect to virtually any tripod; and the black matte finish cuts down on glare.
Unlike some of the other tripods on this list, the Shoulderpod S1 is on the bulky side, making it too large to carry in your pocket. It also doesn’t have a quick release mechanism. If space isn’t an issue, though, and you don’t mind taking a little extra time to setup your shot, this rig is one of the best multi-use mounts available.
Best For: Professional, carefully-composed iPhone photography.
The Glif tripod mount for smartphones will hold your phone in either portrait or landscape position, and it can be used with or without a case. The quick release lever lets you quickly load or remove your phone, and when you close the lever, it will automatically tighten around the device to secure it.
Instead of just one tripod mount, it comes with three, letting you either play with phone orientation or attach additional accessories, like an external flash. If you opt for the Full Set from Glif, you’ll get two extra products to make shooting on-the-go easier: a hand grip and a wrist strap.
Best For: On-the-move photography and videography that requires add-on tools.
This universal mount from Manfrotto has silicone rubber pads for a safe, secure grip, plus a self-standing bracket along its back. Any smartphone up to 3.2 inches wide can be used with the clamp.
While the mount can be used with a smartphone case, some customers have trouble with extra-thick cases. It also doesn’t have a quick release mechanism, so you’ll have to manually remove your phone from the clamp.
Best For: Attaching your phone to a tripod for day-long shooting (since removing it from the clamp isn’t as easy as having a quick release), or setting it up as a table base.
The JOBY GripTight ONE Mount is similar to the Manfrotto Mount for Universal Cell Phone in that it’s a simple, straightforward monopod, tripod and selfie stick mount with a standard attachment. The main difference is that the JOBY Mount has easy in-and-out access thanks to the spring-loaded grip.
The JOBY mount is highly portable, its patented design folding flat and attaching to a camera bag or key ring. Like the Manfrotto mount, it can also be used as a sturdy table base if you don’t need to attach it to a tripod.
Best For: GorillaPod owners who want to upgrade to a larger stand (for many customers, the stand that comes with the GorillaPod is too small for larger phones).
Professional photographers aren’t the only ones who can use expert-grade tools. Whether you’re starting to experiment with iPhone photography or you’re ready to go all-out on a major equipment upgrade, we believe these are some of the best iPhone tripods and smartphone camera mounts that will help you find new ways to setup and capture your shots.
*All product prices came from Amazon or the manufacturer and were correct at the time of writing.
It’s often said that gear doesn’t matter in photography. Great artists will produce great work, no matter their equipment. If the legendary landscape photographer, Ansel Adams, were around today, he would probably take captivating photos with his smartphone. But given a choice, he would also equip himself with some add-on iPhone lenses.
As most phones only have a fixed focal length, additional glass can make a huge difference to your mobile photography. Wide-angle lenses allow the photographer to take sweeping vistas and captivating cityscapes. Macro lenses reveal hidden detail in flowers and insects, while fisheye lenses offer a whacky, warped perspective. Meanwhile, sports and wildlife enthusiasts can use telephoto lenses for a closer look.
There are literally hundreds of these lenses to choose from nowadays. To help you choose wisely, we have searched high and low for the best iPhone lenses that money can buy.
When deciding on which smartphone lens to buy, there are several matters to consider.
First of all, not all lenses work with every smartphone. While iPhone owners are well catered for, other mobile photographers may have to select a “universal” lens kit.
Build quality is also very important. Cheap imports have a nasty habit of falling apart under pressure. Worse still, some designs are capable of scratching the lens of your smartphone — the stuff of nightmares, indeed.
Mounts are often just as important as the lenses. Some systems require you to purchase a case, while others come with their own stick-on or snap-on mounts. While the former option often provides better image quality and a sturdier hold, removable mounts make it easier to use your smartphone as a smartphone.
Perhaps the biggest decision, however, is whether to pay for glass optics or opt for plastic lenses and save some money. This roundup is filled with glass for good reason — it produces crisp images that are largely free from unwanted defects.
So, with these key ingredients in mind, let’s take a look at the top contenders.
When quality is the foremost consideration, Moment lenses are difficult to beat. Machined from metal, with multiple glass elements, they feel like tiny DSLR lenses from the “pro” range. The lenses attach to your phone via a protective case. The lineup includes a wide-angle lens, a macro lens, a 2x telephoto lens, and the “Superfish” fisheye lens. Sharpness is excellent, and image defects are virtually non-existent.
With every major phone that is released, the lenses are updated to match the new specifications. This means the glass is calibrated perfectly, but it does restrict the lifespan of each lens. Furthermore, you will need to own an Apple iPhone or Google Pixel device in order to use these lenses at all.
Another option for iPhone owners is the ExoLens range. Developed in partnership with ZEISS, these lenses match those of Moment stride for stride, save for a little lens flare.
There are three lenses in the ExoLens range — wide-angle, telephoto and macro-zoom. All three lenses are resistant to dust and spray. You also have three different mounts to choose from, ranging from the aluminium ExoLens Bracket to the see-through ExoLens case.
Striking the perfect balance between image quality, price and versatility is Olloclip’s 4-in-1 Lens. Available for older iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones, these kits include a mount that covers both the rear– and front-facing cameras on your device.
As the name suggests, there are four lenses in each kit: fisheye, 10x macro, 15x macro, and wide-angle. Image quality is excellent, although the wide-angle lens does suffer from some optical aberration towards the corners. Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that Olloclip’s lenses are relatively small, and remarkably light considering their metal construction.
The Core Lens set offers a very similar setup on the latest iPhones, albeit with the removal of the 10x macro lens.
Although the iPro Lens System has officially been discontinued, the lenses are still available to purchase — and they offer incredible bang for your buck on older iPhones and Samsung Galaxy models.
The range includes a macro lens, two wide-angle options, and a fisheye lens. Each lens is made from aluminium and high-quality Schneider glass. The image quality cannot quite compete with that of more expensive lenses — distortion being the most notable problem. However, the iPro lenses still deliver crisp photos.
You will need to acquire an iPro case to mount your lenses.
Made exclusively for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Inmacus HD Lenses are great for landscape shooters. The 18mm wide-angle lens expands the iPhone’s field of view by 50 per cent, while still retaining remarkable sharpness. As an added bonus, this lens even accepts 30mm screw-in filters. Vignetting is a slight concern, but virtually unavoidable on a lens which is this wide.
Speaking of filters, the Wide-Angle kit includes a circular polarizer for reducing glare and adding colour, along with a close-focusing lens. The lenses screw into the supplied plastic mount.
Strictly speaking, the DxO One is much more than a lens. In fact, this iPhone add-on is more of an add-on camera. The device syncs with your phone via Wi-Fi or a wired Lightning connection, and allows you to use the screen for compositional purposes.
The one-inch, 20MP sensor blows the iPhone camera out of the water. The f/1.8 lens equates to about 32mm, which hits the sweetspot for general shooting. The whole thing is pretty cumbersome and eye-wateringly expensive, but it takes incredible photos.
Four lenses, a mini tripod, two cases, a universal phone mount, a velvet storage bag and a cleaning cloth. Sounds too good to be true, right? The answer is yes and no.
For photographers who will only accept pin-sharp results, these lenses are best avoided. But those who enjoy playing with softness and the toy camera look can embrace CamKix. The pack includes wide-angle, fisheye and macro lenses, along with a monstrous 12x telephoto lens.
Each has its own optical deficiencies, with distortion and chromatic aberration being the recurring themes. But keep your subject in the centre, and these kits offer a fun first foray into the world of smartphone lenses. Plus, they work with numerous phones.
Optically speaking, AUKEY lenses are far from perfect, but they come with two major advantages.
Firstly, the lenses work with most smartphones. Only larger phablets will cause problems. In addition, the AUKEY lenses require no separate mount. Each lens snaps on like a clothes peg, providing a sure if somewhat imprecise footing.
There are several sets to choose from, including 3-in-1 lens kits and standalone wide-angle, macro, telephoto, and fisheye lenses. The image quality won’t impress serious photographers, but the AUKEY lenses are perfectly good for creative snaps.
Having looked at what each iPhone lens offers, the choice seems much clearer than when we started.
Mobile photographers who have the budget to demand perfect optical quality should probably invest in Moment glass, the Exolens Pro by ZEISS or splash out on the DxO One. In the mid-range, Olloclip delivers very good optics and several different looks at a reasonable price. And at the budget end, iPro offers exceptional value for money…while stocks last. In the longer run, AUKEY will fill the void.
Do you own any of these lenses? Is your favourite lens missing from the list? Tell us in the comments!
Perhaps one of the greatest difficulties when it comes to photography, is that our cameras and smartphones are not made for the water. While some more recent models are waterproof, few can dive far beneath the waves.
This is a great shame, because underwater photography can be amazing — even in a swimming pool. Just diffuse sunlight streaming through the air bubbles makes an interesting picture. You may also want to capture family fun, or discover a vibrant world just off shore. As the legendary ocean explorer and scientist, Jacques Cousteau, once wrote: “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder for ever.”
To help you make the most of watery environments — and keep shooting in the rain — we have compiled a list of the best waterproof phone cases known to man.
The Case for Underwater Photography
When it comes to equipment, choosing the right waterproof case is essential. Some are designed to survive white-water rafting, but nothing deeper. Others are made specifically for exploring the ocean floor.
Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to determine what each case can handle. The International Protection Marking code classifies the products by their ability to resist the elements. Along with dust, sand and other intrusions, the code covers waterproofing. When you examine the specifications of any case, look for something like this: IP68.
The “IP” part simply refers to the International Protection code. All the useful information can be found in the digits. The first number relates to physical intrusions; the second tells you how waterproof the product is. So in the example above, the product would rate 6 for dust, and 8 for waterproofing.
Higher numbers are generally better, and the scale goes up to IPX9 for water. Only cases with IPX7 or better can safely be immersed — and even this rating only guarantees water resistance down to one metre. Note, however, that most cases exceed their rating. Consequently, few IPX7 cases will flood when taken a millimetre beyond their range.
In addition to liquid resistance, many waterproof cases offer other forms of protection. A wet smartphone is not easy to grip, so textured surfaces and impact absorption are welcome features.
The other key consideration is image quality. Many cases that protect your phone from water are not specifically designed for photography. While they may not obscure the camera, the plastic might scratch easily or distort your photos. But fear not — we have tried to avoid such products in this roundup.
With these considerations lodged firmly at the front of our minds, it’s time to meet the contenders.
Pelican Marine Case
Available for: iPhone 6, 6s, 7
The folks at Pelican have been making rough, tough cases for military and medical equipment since the 1980s. Nowadays, they also offer protection for regular smartphones. The Marine case is surprisingly slim, given that it allows your iPhone to dive two metres (6.6 feet) beneath the surface. In fact, this IP68 case can shrug off water, snow, dust and dirt.
Inside the rigid polycarbonate shell, impact absorbing elastomer helps to cushion blows. Even the clumsiest iPhone owner would struggle to break their device with this case installed. In spite of all this armour, the Pelican case causes no great degradation of image quality. The only downsides are a slightly stiff headphone port, and the high price.
Available for: iPhone 6/6s, 7, 7 Plus; Samsung Galaxy S6
On paper, Dog and Bone has matched Pelican stride for stride with the Wetsuit Impact case. It offers the same IP68 protection, meaning you can safely dive to two metres (6.6 feet). It also offers military-standard drop protection. Silicone, polycarbonate and rubber are the defensive materials in this instance. Furthermore, the Wetsuit does not inhibit your photography.
What makes this case stand out are the small details. The main bumper is grippy and comfortable to hold. The screen protector is made from 9H flexible glass — the best currently available for impact protection. You even get 12 months’ free insurance against water damage. The only recurring complaint among owners is sound quality during calls.
Despite being rated at IP68, the Catalyst case can comfortably withstand depths of 10 metres (33 feet). This takes you out of the shallows, and into snorkelling range. The case is actually designed specifically to endure the harshness of seawater.
As with its competitors in the same class, the Catalyst can easily withstand snow and dust. The polycarbonate case survives military drop tests, while offering good access for your charging cable. The case is largely clear, apart from the grippy bumper that wraps around the edges of your device.
While the catalyst is relatively pricey, you get what you pay for. In terms of photography and protection, this case gets the job done.
The Vansky costs less than a takeaway pizza and offers no drop protection, but it outperforms all the cases mentioned above when it comes to waterproofing. Made from premium grade TPU, this bag can safely descend to 30 metres (100 feet) beneath the surface. In addition, the Vansky floats, so your phone cannot sink to the ocean floor. Along with water, the IPX8 dry bag can handle snow and dust.
The clear sides of this case are good for photography, and it works with any smartphone with a screen size of 5.7 inches or less. You can easily use the touchscreen and iPhone Touch ID. Meanwhile, the supplied arm band is useful when you need your hands free.
It would be more accurate to describe the Watershot Pro as a photography kit, rather than merely a case. It adds considerable bulk to your iPhone, but the housing is made for serious depth. You can dive to 60m (195 feet) with the Watershot and take beautiful photos through the optical-grade glass window. The ergonomic grip is particularly useful when you’re diving in gloves.
Additionally, Watershot makes several accessories that can be attached to your Pro case. The wide-angle lens lets you capture undersea vistas, while the pistol grip and lighting tray are great for videographers.
In contrast with all this positivity, the Watershot comes with one major downside: the walls are thick enough to prevent normal touchscreen usage. You actually have to download an app and use the integrated buttons to operate your phone. This is a necessary evil for scuba diving, but annoying at shallower depths.
Available for: iPhone 6/6s, 6/6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus; Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, S8+; Google Pixel, Pixel XL
If you could choose only one case for every environment, the Lifeproof Fr? would rank highly amongst the options. The reviews of this well-made case are glowing with praise.
The acclaim cannot be attributed to outstanding specs. The Fr? survives underwater at a depth of two metres (6.6 feet) for one hour. The shock-proof design can handle falls from adult head height, and it keeps out the dirt and snow. Decent all-round protection, then — but nothing that can’t be found elsewhere.
What makes LifeProof special is the build quality of these cases. The Fr? hugs your phone like underarmour, and the anti-reflective optical glass camera window ensures crisp images. As a general use case that can come swimming, the Fr? impresses.
There are two things that will instantly strike anyone who picks up the Hitcase Pro. Firstly, this thing is rugged. It has an anodized aluminum frame that can protect your phone from drops of five metres (16 feet). The case is rated at IP68, but it can withstand 10-metre dives (33 feet).
The other very notable feature is a prominent lens. Rather than merely allowing the light to pass through, this case actively enhances your photographic experience. The case comes with macro and super-wide glass lenses, and you can purchase a regular wide-angle lens separately. Furthermore, this case is compatible with eight different mounts, including a floating rig.
This is just about the maximum protection a case can offer, while leaving your phone’s touchscreen open for use.
In comparison with the other cases on this list, ImpactStrong’s contribution is remarkably inexpensive. The abilities of this case match those of rivals costing twice as much.
For instance, the ImpactStrong case can happily stay submerged at two metres (6.6 feet) for one hour. It also offers 360-degree drop protection from head height. The anti-reflective glass camera window guarantees good photos, while secure ports provide access to the physical controls on your phone. Apart from the inevitable grumbles about slightly muffled sound and incompatibility with third-party cables, this case seems to be a hit with owners. For the occasional pool photographer, you can’t go wrong for $20.
All of the cases mentioned above will provide your phone with some protection from H2O. The choice, therefore, comes down to each mobile photographer’s individual needs.
For shooting in the rain, the ImpactStrong or LifeProof Fr? cases should suffice. The difference in quality doesn’t seem to match the difference in price between these two options, although the LifeProof is universally revered.
Note, however, that the latest iPhone and Samsung Galaxy models come with some water resistance. They should cope with the occasional splash — so these cases are more about protection than waterproofing.
The Dog and Bone Wetsuit Impact and Pelican Marine cases would be wise choices for regular swimmers. They are slim enough for everyday use, and they can happily sink to the bottom of most human-made pools. In open water, you can safely dive deeper with the Catalyst Waterproof case.
If you don’t care about other forms of protection, grabbing the Vansky dry bag is a no-brainer. While your images may suffer from some distortion, this case is around $10 and can dive further than most.
Finally, there are the two specialist options. Scuba divers and watersports enthusiasts would be well advised to invest in the Watershot Pro or Hitcase Pro. The former provides the greatest range; the latter is easier to use, and probably a fraction better for photography.
Do Go Chasing Waterfalls
For too long, photographers have lived in fear of water. By equipping our phones with waterproof cases, we can record every dramatic storm and capture the beauty of crashing ocean waves. For any mobile photographer, they make a wise purchase.
*All product prices came from Amazon or the manufacturer and were correct at the time of writing.
The advent of mobile photography has given many more people the chance to take many more images. Something like 1.8 billion photos are uploaded to social networks and other online sites every day. Countless more are taken and stored on camera rolls. Yet even on the most high-resolution screens, pixels never seem to make the same impact as ink on paper. This is where iPhone photo printers can make all the difference.
Thanks to inkless printing technology, iPhone photo printers are much easier to use than their office counterparts. What you sacrifice in paper size, you gain in portability and connectivity. Instead of having to transfer images to your computer, you can simply beam them straight from your phone. You can even create stickers, ID photos, and collages with ease.
As smartphone photography has grown in popularity, so have these mobile-friendly printers. There are now many to choose from, each offering something slightly different. To help you make sense of it all, we have compiled the ultimate guide to iPhone photo printers.
Simply the Best
What makes a great printer? Quality and economy are probably the two most important considerations. With compact printers, both print size and weight should also feature highly in your calculations. Each printer has its own app to wrangle with, as well.
Instead of creating an arbitrary ranking system for these printers, we have chosen to list nine models worth your attention. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, which are described below.
HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer
HP is a relative latecomer to this printing niche, but the Sprocket is a solid first outing. It weighs just six ounces, and the dimensions are smaller than those of most smartphones. The Sprocket produces wallet-size prints (2 x 3 inches) in around 40 seconds. That’s quite a wait if you are printing a batch, but most battery-powered printers work at a relaxed speed.
On the plus side, the Sprocket is almost silent. It also uses the inkless ZINK system, which means you don’t need to mess about with ink cartridges. The quality is not spectacular, but perfectly decent for fun snaps. Most notably, the HP Sprocket app makes it really easy to prepare your images for printing.
In contrast to HP, Polaroid was one of the first to market. You might expect the former king of instant photography to dominate the portable printer niche. But two years after launch, the ZIP printer is slightly starting to show its age.
It produces 2 x 3-inch prints using the ZINK system, and prints arrive in around 40 seconds. They come out very punchy and vibrant, although this effect is sometimes overly intense. All things considered, the print quality of the ZIP is slightly inferior to that of the HP.
That said, the ZIP is very compact and it comes with NFC connectivity. Along with your smartphone, you can use it with Polaroid’s popular Cube action camera. Just be aware that the ZIP app on iOS has received plenty of criticism.
If you are happy to make a slight compromise on portability, the SP-2 from Fujifilm will reward you with improved image quality. Nostalgia nerds will also love the fact that the Fuji prints slowly reveal their true identity, like instant photos of old.
In fact, prints from the SP-2 even have a traditional white border. This makes them easy to handle, but the actual image measures just 2.4 x 1.8 inches. The prints are remarkably expensive, as well. However, this printer delivers on features. The SHARE app offers a nice selection of filters, and you can even print straight from your social profiles. Best of all, the SP-2 produces prints in 10 seconds flat.
When the SP-2 arrived in late 2016, it looked like the end of the road for the model it replaced. But the SP-1 is still available and still a great printer. It is slightly chubbier than the sleek SP-2 and marginally slower to print, but these Fuji siblings share many good traits.
In fact, the SP-1 uses the same paper and the same app, with very similar results. Prints take around 16 seconds to emerge, and the quality is excellent. It shapes up well with the competition from other manufacturers. However, the newer SP-2 offers significantly higher resolution prints and better colors for a very small price increase.
The compact Prynt case puts a new spin on smartphone photo printing. It actually turns your iPhone into an instant camera, complete with dedicated shutter button. It also offers to “print” video. The companion app grabs a still frame from your footage and puts the image onto paper. You then point your camera at the image to see an on-screen replay of the full video, thanks to the wonders of augmented reality.
It must be said, these innovative features come at the expense of image quality. In addition, you will have to remove the case for regular iPhone use. Still, this printer offers a nice throwback to the instant photography workflow.
If you prefer your prints to be bigger than a credit card, you should check out Canon’s Selphy range. These printers aren’t that portable — a battery pack is only an optional extra — but they produce lab quality 6 x 4-inch prints. In terms of up-front cost, the CP1200 is very competitive.
While you do have to wait 47 seconds for each print to emerge, Canon guarantees your pictures for 100 years. This printer uses dye-sublimation technology, but thankfully the ink cartridge is supplied with the paper.
In addition, the Selphy can connect to your home Wi-Fi network. This means you can print from your iPhone via Apple AirPrint. You can also select from multiple print layouts via the built-in LCD display.
Somewhere between Canon’s professionalism and Polaroid’s party animal lies the Kodak Mini. As with the Canon Selphy, it uses dye sublimation to provide excellent print quality. Like the Polaroid Zip, the compact Mini produces credit card-sized prints.
More precisely, the Kodak prints borderless images onto paper that measures 2.1 x 3.4 inches. In other words, these prints are slightly bigger than those from ZINK systems. Kodak also guarantees your pictures for 10 years, thanks to a special “photo preservation overcoat layer.”
The Mini connects to your phone via Wi-Fi (or NFC on Android devices), and the companion app lets you play with several filters, frames and templates.
If you’re willing to part with a little more money and sacrifice some portability, the Kodak Dock printer is a worthwhile upgrade. Using the same dye printing and preservation system, it churns out beautiful 6 x 4-inch prints. In most cases, this little printer will outdo your full-size inkjet.
As the name suggests, this printer doubles as a charging dock for your phone. After the initial setup process, you can place your iPhone on the Kodak and start printing with one tap. The prints are guaranteed for years and the iOS app offers plenty of options. The only issue is that each photo takes about one minute to print.
As an Apple Store exclusive, you would expect the LifePrint to work seamlessly with your iPhone. That it does, producing 2 x 3-inch borderless prints using ZINK technology. In addition, this printer can perform augmented reality tricks with videos, gifs, Snapchat messages, and Apple’s “living photos.”
If you happen to know someone else who owns one of these printers, you can even send them an image to print. It’s like a fax machine for the Instagram generation.
The downsides? The print quality is nothing to shout about, and you have to charge the battery after every 20 prints. In other words, you should buy this printer for its digital trickery, not its printing prowess.
Having seen the options, it’s now time to return to our original checklist.
When it comes to quality, the dye-based printers listed above win every time — that is, the Canon Selphy and the two Kodaks.
The Fujifilm printers are next in line, delivering prints that will please all but the most discerning eyes. All the other printers listed here are based on ZINK technology, which is visibly inferior. It’s fine for party snaps, but expect overblown contrast and saturation, with a few colour casts.
In terms of economy, the Canon Selphy offers by far the best value for money at $0.26 per print. If you are happy to buy paper in bulk, the Kodak Dock ($0.33) and LifePrint ($0.45) fill the other podium places. For smaller quantities, these printers become more expensive to use than the Polaroid ($0.50).
At the top end, the Kodak Mini ($0.60) and Fujifilm ($0.80) papers start to look painfully expensive. But then, you may choose to take that hit in the name of print quality. Note that these calculations are based on the lowest prices we could find at reputable retailers at the time of writing.
The choice then comes down to your own priorities. For instance, the Fujifilm SP-2 is speedy at 10 seconds per page, but the ZINK paper has a peel-off sticky back. Meanwhile, the Prynt and LifePrint offer those augmented reality circus tricks.
You could be attracted by the quality and economy of the Canon and the Kodak Dock. However, these printers fall behind on portability. For printing on the move, you should look at the Polaroid, the Kodak Mini, the Prynt, the Fujifilms, or the LifePrint.
The printing process turns digital files into treasured possessions. Like a soldier carrying a picture of his sweetheart, you can hold and share the memories that these printers reproduce. Whether you want to decorate your home or fill your wallet with photos, we hope this little guide will help you get started.
The iPhone accessory market has been rapidly growing over the past couple of years. As a result of this explosion in iPhone photography accessories the mobile photographer is now able to push the boundaries of their creativity a lot further. One area of the accessory market that is growing are the number of lens options available from manufacturers like Olloclip, Moment and iPro Lens system.
Recently I have been testing out a newcomer to the lens market from Inmacus who earlier this year launched a range of iPhone lens and filter kits. After some field testing of the Inmacus lens system I’m of the opinion this product is likely to give the competition a run for their money.
Inmacus has over 25 years of experience in the camera industry and they have applied this experience and knowledge into developing a flexible and high quality lens system for mobile photographers.
There are two lens kits in the Inmacus range. The wide angle kit which features a wide angle lens, a polarising lens filter and HD macro lens. Meanwhile the HD Macro Filter Kit includes three lenses, a +5, +8 and +10 macro lens.
The Rapid Grip Lens Mount
The lens and filters attach onto the iPhone using the rapid grip mount. By pressing two buttons on either side of the mount it allows the unit to easily be placed in position over the iPhone camera lens. Releasing these buttons sees the rapid grip mount firmly clamps onto the phone. Once clamped into position it offers a pretty solid grip onto the phone with no unwanted movement.
The rapid grip mount itself is made of a tough plastic material with a protruding metal screw mount into which the lenses screws into.
A couple of downsides to the lens system are that I found the grip mount unit wouldn’t fit onto my iPhone 6 with my trusty Ollocase fitted. I also found changing the lenses when out in the field a little fiddly.
18mm HD Wide Angle Lens Kit
Out of the two lens kits my favourite is the HD Wide Angle Lens Kit which includes an 18mm wide angle lens, a circular polarising (CPL) filter and a macro lens. This combination lens types within one unit, in my opinion, makes this model the most versatile.
All the lenses are housed in a metal body with the lens construction being made of glass rather than plastic. This means the lens provides a much better optical quality which is evident in the picture quality of the photos taken using the lens. Let’s take a look at the different lenses one by one.
18mm HD Wide Lens
First, my favourite, the 18mm HD wide angle lens. The iPhone lens already has a fairly wide angle lens but the Inmacus extends that field of vision much further without the need to move back away from your subject. This is something that is especially useful in landscape photography or large group shot situations.
Below are two examples of the same scene. The first was taken with no lens.
and the second using the 18mm wide angle lens.
One of the main issues I have found when using other lens attachments for the iPhone is that there is a certain amount of lens distortion and blurring towards the edges of the frame. The end result being the centre of a photo is sharp while the outer edges have a slight blurring effect to them.
However, one the first things I noticed about the Inmacus lens was the quality and sharpness of an image taken with the lens. There was no distortion or blurring to the outer edges.
HD Circular Polarizer
The next lens in the wide angle kit is more of a filter than a lens, it is the circular polarizer. In my DSLR days this was anther of my favourite filters to use.
The filter basically reduces glare and reflection by preventing the light from being captured with a certain polarity. With the lens fitted all you have to do is turn the lens until you have achieved the desired look in the scene in front of you. This is perfect when shooting locations that include reflective surfaces such as water, glass, shiny objects or situations when you have blue sky or green grass and want to give it some extra saturation.
Let’s see the lens effects in action. Below are two examples
Without the Polarising filter
With the Polarising filter
HD Closeup +5 Filter
Finally, the wide angle lens kit includes a +5 macro lens. Again, like all the other lenses in the range it screws firmly into the rapid grip mount housing and enables you to focus on objects up to a range of a few centimeters. Again, I found the image quality to be just as sharp as the wide angle lenses but due to the the shorter focal length the lens offered a nice depth of field effect. This basically means that objects outside of the area of focus were slightly blurred out.
HD Macro Filter Kit
For those who are into shooting macro photography then the HD Macro Lens Kit will be the kit for you. This macro system includes three macro lenses which all fit together to give an impressive +23 magnification.
+5 HD Closeup Filter
Firstly, there is the +5 macro lens which is the same as the one found in the wide angle kit.
+8 HD Closeup Filter
The second lens in the macro lens kit is the +8 macro lens. As you would expect this lens offers a slightly higher degree of magnification than the +5 allowing you to get even closer to the subject.
+10 HD Macro Filter
The +10 macro lens allows you to get even closer still. When I say close we are now at about 3cm away from our subject. At this level of magnification, the depth of field is very narrow so it is important to lock your focal point carefully and to have a steady hand. I found it useful to mount my phone onto a tripod to ready ensure a steady shot.
+23 Macro Filter Combination
Finally, all the lenses in the macro kit attach together to offer a macro lens with a +23 magnification. You can now shoot as close as 1.5cm from the subject and the results are breath-taking.
When shooting this close to a subject be aware of any shadows you may be casting onto the subject. If possible, I would certainly consider using a tripod, especially if the subject is moving, as the area of focus is going to be extremely narrow.
The lens quality of the Inmacus lenses is very much evident in the macro lenses. The quality of the images captured is superb and the fine detail and texture that is recorded at such short focal lengths is amazing.
Macro photography isn’t something that has previously interested me but the results offered by the Inmacus macro lens kit has wet my appetite to explore this type of photography further.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of both the Inmacus wide angle and macro lens kits. The construction is solid and it offers a firm grip on the phone body. The lens quality and resulting image quality is pin sharp with no distortions or blurring towards the edges. The kits offer the mobile photographer the option of either capturing ultra wide angle landscape vistas or zooming in close to the micro world insects and fauna. The creative options are certainly there for the taking.
The only downsides to the Inmacus is that I found changing the lenses the field a bit fiddly and it would be nice if there was a phone case which allowed the grip mount to be easily slipped into position.
Overall this is a nice piece of kit and one I highly recommend you check out.
How to buy the Inmacus lens kit
If you are interested in investing in an Inmacus lens kit then visit www.Inmacus.com where the wide angle lens kit retails at $59.90 and the HD Macro lens kit retails at $49.90. Unfortunately, the lens kit is only available for iPhone 6, 6 Plus and the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.