Thursday, November 29, 2018

Photo toys

I’ve always enjoyed taking photos. At one point I wanted to learn how to develop film and print photos, but along came digital photography and that changed everything. For me, it was definitely for the better as it made experimenting cheap and easy to do, and that’s one of the best ways to learn. Recently I got some new gizmos to use with my cellphone to make my photos better. There are specific reasons for that.

On Monday, I shared a photo I took with the macro lens, something I said was a subject in itself. This is the post I mentioned I’d do.

What I got was the Classic Revolver Lens from Ztylus, “classic” because the design has advanced for newer phones. The new designs aren’t compatible with my phone, and iPhone 6, That isn’t really a problem for me because these are still so much better than what I had, the built-in lens.

The kit includes a new case for the phone, and the lenses are in a revolving turret-like thing that clicks into place so the used can lift out the lens and rotate it into place. The lens kit comes off, and a cap goes in its place. The cover also has a kickstand so I could prop up the phone to watch a video on my phone fullscreen, though I've never done that. Without the lens kit, the phone is only slightly heavier than it was with my old phone cover. The one in the kit is more robust and provides better protection for my phone than the old one did. It still fits in my pocket. But with the lens revolver installed, it’s a bit too bulky and a little too heavy to carry in my pocket.

In my post Monday, I mentioned using the macro lens. There are actually two: The one I used, then pop off the wide-angle lens and it’s possible to get as close as 18mm from the subject (that’s slightly less than a ¾ of an inch). I have no idea what I’ll use that for, but I know that sooner or later I will.

The iPhone’s built in lens is basically a wide-angle lens, but the one on the Revolver Lens kit is better: It’s roughly double the field of view of the iPhone, and there are plenty of times that will come in handy.

Another lens is a circular polariser, and this works similar to polarised sunglasses: It removes glare and reflection from surfaces like water and glass. This, too, will be handy when photographing at the beach, or if I use it through a window.

The final lens is a fisheye lens, which as a 180 degree field of view. At the moment this seems like more of a fun thing that useful, but as I experiment and play with it, I’ll no doubt find some good uses for it.

The other thing we got is the Ztylus “Journalist Kit”, which has a rig to hold the phone, a grip that attaches to it, and a mini-tripod, which can also be used as short—but stable—selfie stick (some selfie sticks aren’t very stable).

The rig ads a handy to grip the phone securely, making it easier and safer to attach other things. For example, there’s a cold shoe on top where I could attach, say, a special microphone for video, or maybe an LED light. Unlike a hot shoe, common on professional and “prosumer” cameras, a cold shoe has no electronics to talk to the device. Sometimes this is now called and accessory shoe.

At the moment, I don’t have any attachments, but if I use the lens kit to make videos, a better mic would be good, though a light is probably more likely at this point. The bottom part of the rig has a universal tripod mount.

Next is the grip, which is made of alloy, is quite heavy for its size. This helps provide a kind of counter-balance weight, since the phone can start to get heavy on one side with all the gear attached. The grip helps lower the centre of gravity.

The grip, too, has a universal tripod mount and connects to the mini tripod. All of that can be used without the revolver lens kit, of course, and it could also me used to record oneself, like for a vlog, though personally I’d choose other camera options I have.

Altogether, the stuff ads more flexibility and options for using my phone to take photos. I always have my phone with me, where my other camera options are bigger, bulkier, and require more planning, like making sure they’re charged and that their memory card is empty. All of which makes it harder to use for impromptu photos. My phone is always available.

When I did my “Nature Photo A Day” series back in 2016, I limited myself to using only my phone (and that was my old phone). I was pleased with that series, overall, but I can do so much more now than I could then. I’m looking forward to exploring that, and sharing the results.

You have been warned.

The products listed and their names are all registered trademarks, and are used here for purposes of description and clarity. No company or entity provided any support or payment for this blog post, and all products were purchased by me at normal retail prices. So, the opinions I expressed are my own genuinely held opinions, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the manufacturers, any retailer, or any known human being, alive or dead, real or corporate. Just so we’re clear.

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