6 iPhone Accessories for Almost-Professional Photos/Videos

January 25th, 2012 | Shonali Burke | 49 Comments

I saw a post from Chris Brogan a while back, talking about how it’s ok to not be an expert and, in fact, we shouldn’t wait until we’re experts at something to do it.

Sounds about right to me. After all, I never trained in public relations (fuhgeddabout social media), and my background is in Economics (probably why I like numbers so much) and drama, but I think I’m doing ok.

To me, non-experts doing things very well is one of the beauties not just of our profession, but a gift that the social Web has given to us.

After all, you don’t have to be an “expert” to blog well, to excel at online marketing, to take great photos and/or videos… right?

I don’t know about you, but I’m drawn more to the “non-expert” versions of these things (and so much more), because they have a “realness” (I don’t know if that’s a word, and if it wasn’t, it is now, and it is so much easier to say than verisimilitude) to them that a lot of “expert” content doesn’t.

So.

Being a non-expert at much of this stuff, I recently got a bee in my bonnet about finding a way to build my own, iPhone-ready DIY photo/video studio, that would let me take/create not great, but good enough visual/multimedia content (Project 366 is proving to be great testing ground for this).

After a month or so of trial and error, finally all the pieces have fallen into place. And I did this on less than $200 (excluding taxes and shipping). Here’s how you can too, with six terrific iPhone accessories that will give you a mobile [sic], “good enough” photo/video studio.

1. Olloclip 3-in-1 lens ($69.99)

This little gizmo is very cool. It’s a fisheye, wide and macro lens all in one. It clips onto your iPhone and gives you the ability to take some really neat photos.

For example, this is a photo taken during yesterday’s personal training session (I got Grant Hill to be my guinea pig, heh!) using the regular iPhone camera/lens:

photo from a regular iPhone camera

This is the same photo taken with the Olloclip’s wide-angle lens:

Olloclip's wide angle lens in action

See how it’s pulling extending the visual to the sides, not to mention top, and maybe bottom?

And this is a photo using the fisheye lens:

Olloclip's fisheye lens

This is a photo using the macro lens (not from the training session, since it’s of a really fab wine glass – with its own sock! – that Rachael Seda gave me), but it’s terrific for really, really close photos:

TGIF

By the way, the Olloclip is also available via Apple.com, but I had an Amazon gift card that was crying out to be used, so that’s where I bought it from.

There is also a cheaper version of this, i.e. the same three lenses that come with magnetic rings that you can stick onto the back of your iPhone, but when I tested it, they kept falling off. Not good.

Downsides:

  • It won’t fit over a fancy iPhone case, if you have one
  • The iPhone’s inbuilt flash and the Olloclip don’t play nice together… but I have a solution for that! Read on…

2. iFlash ($12.99)

So now you’re all excited about the 3-in-1 lens solution, but what happens if you want to use these when you need a flash?

iFlash to the rescue. This is lovely; it fits to the “30 pin” on your iPhone (i.e. where you plug your charger in), and it works great.

It will not fit if you have a fancy iPhone case. Yes, again.

3. Joby GorillaPod ($29.95)

Joby's GorillapodOk, so now you have your lenses and your iFlash. What if you tend to, er, shimmer when holding your phone/camera, and need something to hold it steady?

Enter the GorillaPod Video tripod. Now, I originally bought this for my Flip camera, but I found a way to repurpose it for my iPhone.

Before I get to that, though, what is so neat about all Joby’s Gorilla products is the way the legs bend, which means you can attach them to shelves, branches, doorknobs… just about anywhere you need to, even if you don’t have a flat surface to stand them on.

And they also have magnetized “feet,” so if you’re near a surface that will work, you can literally just stick it on there.

It’s a plastic yoga studio!

Joby has a ton of products, including a tripod specifically for the iPhone, but I don’t like that, and I’ll tell you why…

4. Glif ($20.00)

The problem with using Joby’s iPhone tripod is that you have to use the case that comes with it, in order for the tripod to hold your iPhone securely (it fits on other cases as well, but the point is, it won’t fit on just the iPhone).

So if you want to take, say, photos/videos while using your 3-in-1 lens, or iFlash, and still need the steadying influence of a tripod, you’re SOL.

This is where the Glif iPhone stand and tripod mount (I bought mine on Photojojo) comes in. It’s a small piece of plastic – when mine arrived, I kept peering into the envelop to see what was missing – but it fits beautifully onto your phone (without a case), and has this hole thingy into which the Joby Gorilla Pod screws beautifully.

I’m sure I will regret leaving that last phrase unedited. But whatevs.

Also, Photojojo has a killer website which is pure fun to go through, and just wait until you get their order confirmations/packages… I got a teeny weeny dinosaur with mine!

5. Audio-Technica ATR3350 Lavalier Mic ($22.34)

ATR 3350This is just a lovely little lavalier mic (not wireless), that you can use, with an adapter, to enhance your audio. So, say you want to do video interviews, or recordings, from your iPhone, it’s terrific.

But wait! It won’t work on your iPhone unless you buy the…

6. KV Connection 1/8″ iPhone microphone adapter ($23.06)

You have to get this along with your lavalier mic, else it won’t work. Trust me on this one. Better yet, trust Jeff Geerling, whose site I found this from.

I can’t tell you how excited I was when I found, and then ordered, these last two. And I was shattered – absolutely shattered! – when they didn’t work.

Turns out the KVC adapter was faulty, as Jeff suggested when I wrote to him. So KVC sent me a new one at no cost, and everything worked perfectly. I can’t give their customer service a big enough shout out.

Let’s recap, shall we?

  • Olloclip 3-in-1 lens: $69.99
  • iFlash: $12.99
  • Tripod/stand: $29.95
  • Glif: $20.00
  • ATR 3350 mic: $22.34
  • KV Connection adapter for mic: $23.06

Less taxes (if applicable) and shipping, that comes to $178.33.

So for less that $200, you can:

  • Take photos (and videos) that don’t shake
  • Take photos (and videos) from weird, crazy, funky angles, should you be so inclined [sic]
  • Give new depth, and angles, to your multimedia
  • Get extremely decent audio for videos/interviews
  • Produce fun, possibly funky photos/videos for your clients/organizations
  • Avoid gnashing your teeth when you want to record something on the fly, since you have your studio-in-a-bag
  • Make sure the pros you do hire do a really good job (I mean, they’ve got to top you, right?)

Add in $0.99 for Camera+, $1.99 for Photosync and $4.99 for iMovie – all great apps for the iPhone for effects, cropping and whatnot – and you got yourself a cryin’, talkin’, sleepin’, walkin’, livin’ doll of a mobile studio… still for less than $200.

And I think that’s pretty cool.

How about you? Have you tested great accessories that will let you take “good enough” photos/videos on the fly? Do share, I’d love to know… and maybe upgrade my own mobile studio!

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Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

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41 comments
JohnJia
JohnJia

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mobilebooth

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thank you

mdurwin
mdurwin

Did you know I'm filming a movie on iPhone 4s? I've recently done a couple of client projects on a Canon HDV and iPhone. I ended up using the iPhone footage. So, I'm making a movie! You might be interested in following along as I document all of the equipment with test photos and videos: http://www.mdurwin.com/topics/movie/

Keep in mind that I've been doing video for national and international brands for years. You may have seen a commercial or broadcast graphic of mine. But, other than a good eye for composition and subject, everything I'm shooting is using an iPhone4s, which I'm also using to stylize and edit. No outside equipment other than iPhone accessories like those above (I have the GorillaPod, but opted for different audio and lens solutions). I'm not using AfterEffects, Final Cut, my iMac or Mac Air.

Today I received my iPhone steadicam. I'll shoot some unboxing images tonight, and shoot some footage tomorrow morning. Hopefully this will help content creators and wannabe filmmakers.

amsettle
amsettle

These are great gadgets! Also, thanks so much for linking to Chris' post on being a non-expert... I totally agree. Great post and reminder.

rachaelseda
rachaelseda

If you give Shonali an iphone, she's going to need a cool lense and if you give her a cool lense...haha I remember when you told me about all your new gadgets and it reminded me of the book 'If You Give a Mouse a Cookie' and I LOVE it. But really could you have written this post BEFORE Christmas so I could've put all of this on my list for Santa? Next time I see you you'll have to bring all your cool gadgets, I want to play!!

P.S. Thanks for doing all the legwork on this. While I want to test yours out first (hehe) I'm sure I will soon want my own iphone multimedia studio ;)

P.P.S. All these different products should get together and sell all this cool stuff as one big kit..that would be fab!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

Hmmm....maybe just get a camera? 8)

I have been using my Droid for photos a lot but brought back my camera into use takes so much better photos. Especially when I do scenery. Does the IPhone now have a flash or it still does not?

Great run down though Shonali I am very impressed you have gone Gizmodo here!

KenMueller
KenMueller

I can't comment too much on the iPhone app side of this because I'm not an iPhone user. But...I agree wholeheartedly with the DIY/non-expert side of it. You can do some really cool stuff that looks "real" and human. I love that we're at the point where we tilt our heads at things that seem a bit too polished and overproduced. Even TV shows are doing more of this for effect. Love it.

KDillabough
KDillabough

Great job Shonali, for putting together and sharing such an awesome list of items, PLUS identify their benefits. You are full of "realness"! Cheers! Kaarina

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@mdurwin That is very cool, thank you for sharing! I tried my hand at editing directly in iMovie on the iPhone and it works pretty well, though it's easier for me, as a neophyte, to transfer to my Mac and edit there. What are the audio/lens solutions you're using?

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@rachaelseda You make me sound like a never-ending spiral... but the question is, is it upwards or downwards? :p

I should have written this before Christmas! But I didn't get all the bits and bobs in until just a couple of days ago. The lens was the most frustrating, because the cheaper version worked great, it was just that the magnetic rings kept falling off (you remember how I was looking for a magnetized case as an alternative... well, the one I ordered didn't work. Fortunately I didn't spend a lot on it!).

One big kit would be uber-cool, wouldn't it?

mdurwin
mdurwin

@HowieG Yes, I phone has a Flash, though for $29 I bought an external one I could control better. iPhone 4s also has an 8 mega pixel camera that does full 1080p video:

http://youtu.be/G60nKy5kfro

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@HowieG LOL! True (re: camera). But the thing is, we had a ton of cameras that ended up not being used - I think we donated 3 to Goodwill last year. When we went on vacation to Jamaica, for example, we had no camera except for the one in my iPhone, and I don't think the quality was perceptibly different. For me, it's one less hassle and "thing" to carry around, though I know people who are much more into photography will still do that, and good for them.

Yes, the iPhone has a flash! Did it not before? And that's the first time anyone's compared me to Gizmodo. That just made my day. :p

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@KenMueller If you have clients who do use iPhones, though, it might be useful to them? And yay on the realness... the videos that are NOT hugely polished make much more of an impact on me. This is not to discount the great work that pros do at all, e.g. @greenbuzzagency does terrific work (disclosure, they did a marvelous video of/for me last year that I use on this blog as well as my site), as do so many others. But when regular people like you and I can be empowered to create appealing content, it's huge.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@KDillabough Thanks, Kaarina! I have to admit this was one set of "research" that was a ton of fun!

shonali
shonali

@kellyecrane Yes indeed! I was just thinking it's been a while since we chatted...

rachaelseda
rachaelseda

@Shonali@HowieG When asked what's the next big thing or best digital camera you should get (on I believe the Today Show) famous photographer Annie Leibovitz herself said...she thinks the iphone has everything you need and that's where we're all headed. One piece of technology that does what we need (photo, phone, video etc) well. Although she admitted she's still trying to figure out how to work her iphone...which I loved.

I too am an iphone sans camera convert!

brasonja
brasonja

@shonali Well, multitasking pure currently but a good day ... wish you a great one :)

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