When we mentioned that we were looking for an appropriate tripod mount for the iPhone, a few readers pointed us to a couple of possibilities. Of all the suggestions, the unit from ThoughtOut appeared to be the best one for our application. The major pieces (grip, stem, arm) are made of metal, the tips are rubber-coated, and the design does not interfere with the macro lens protruding from the iPhone.
Assembly of the PED3 mount was quick and simple: insert arm into stem; thread mount onto tripod; slide in phone; adjust grip. We should note that it is a good idea to make sure the phone is secured in the cradle before moving the mount or the tripod. If there is any play, just bend the appropriate arm to tighten the grip.
There are many reasons (design, quality, cost) why one would chose the PED3. The main reason we LIKE the PED3 is that it is not custom-made for just one version of iPhone. We are really becoming annoyed that every time we upgrade a piece of gear, we also have to upgrade all of the accessories (case, batteries, etc…). ThePED3’s finger grips, unlike a custom case, should work the next gen iPhones as long as the dimensions are similar. Just this feature alone is worth it.
With the PED3 assembled, we paired it up with a TrekTech T’Pod, and took it outside for a quick test. The T’Pod’s wide stance makes it rock-steady…perfect for the iPhone microscope application. We first reviewed the T’Pod back in 2007. We have many portable tripods around the office, but the T’Pod is the one we grab more often than not. It has proven itself to be an amazingly versatile portable tripod. The T’Pod is stiff, lightweight, and highly configurable. Unlike other portables, the T’Pod is made of aluminum and can handle the weight of a full-size DSLR.
The PED3/T’Pod combo worked great. The PED3 mount made it much easier to angle the iPhone without shaking. We would still want to be able to use voice-activation for triggering the shot, but the PED3 mount made it possible to activate the camera i.e., (tap on the screen) without disturbing the focus. If you want to use the iPhone to take macro photos, the PED3 mount is a must-have accessory. Check out the gallery of images we took both free-standing and handheld. Just click on the image for a larger version.
We have only scratched the surface of using the iPhone4 as a photographic tool. We are excited by this trend. In its current form, the iPhone camera is less flexible in many ways than a point-n-shoot and is clearly much less capable than a DSLR. However, camera phones have a few qualities (wireless upload, apps, etc…) which will not be matched by digital cameras anytime soon. With improvement in resolution and functionalities of camera phones, we expect to see significant market share erosion for mid to lower end point-n-shoot cameras and camcorders (why do you think Cisco killed the Flip?) in the next few years. Higher end units such as the Nikon P7000 will still find a place with more experience photographers, but the writing is also on the wall for them. Don’t say we didn’t give you a heads up.