Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What is an Indispensable Smartphone Accessory?

Smartphone photography is here to stay so what would be the next accessory to indulge your sense with? A lens adaptor? Flash? WiFi Storage? If you answered yes to all of the listed items then you'd be wrong. First, all lens adaptor are never perfect and if they claim to be so, they are notorious for under performing in the imaging department. Flash add ons like the iBlazr Flash for both Android and iPhone are nice to have around but flash rarely solves low light problems unless you are taking a mugshot, it won't equal the power and reach of a conventional flash of a compact camera. Wifi Storage too is nice to have but heck, if you did your workflow right, you won't need it.

The next gadget you should be getting on your smartphone is a Joby GripTight, and you won't believe how useful it has been once you have that around with you.

What's the GripTight About?

The GorrilaPod got its name from the way you could curl the arms into shape and let that hold your device steady, I had one for my MFT Olympus Pen and Lumix G, it took the place of my travel tripod on most of my trips. Handy and  compact, it takes less place in your luggage than any foldable tripod.

Joby introduced a smaller version for Smartphones called the GripTight and there is even one with a video pan head, that is equally diminutive in size.  The GripTight Gorilla Pod Stand is so light, you never notice you'd have that in your small tote bag.

To my surprise, the GripTight comes with a quick release head just like its bigger tripodal cousins. You can snap it on and off in a hurry if need be so you never get to fumble around during an opportune moment. The only caveat? GripTight only holds devices of between 54–72mm (2.1–2.8 in.)!

So if you owned anything larger than a Galaxy S3, it won't do.

As Good as the App Gets

This is where it confuses people. Many, for some social reason, refuse to acknowledge that smartphones are capable of taking low light images provided it is triggered from a low ISO setting. Having resorted to hand holding and flash, the imaging doesn't always come out right, Hand holding is a particularly lazy way to address low light performance issues of a mobile camera. It gets worst after a couple of beers but no photography ever told you that.

This is where the camera app plays a crucial part in setting up a low light shot. Apple's own iOS 7 camera app is a big let down when it comes to controlling your shutter. Android on the other hand offers better control. You can preset your shutter to capture at ISO100 for Android devices using the right app. The Samsung Camera app on Galaxy devices is nothing short of superb if you want manual control but it still lacks bracketing capture and slow shutter controls. iOS camera on the other hand, makes it easier to shoot with but doesn't give you any manual control over the exposure.

iOS 7 Caveat: For those of you who have upgraded, the first thing you have to know is that Apple has removed the need for long exposure controls. The maximum exposure capable for a iOS7 camera app now is limited to just 1 second. This applies across the board for all apps that uses the iPhone camera.

This is by no means an exhaustive table of apps capable of long exposure controls but rather on those which I have tested. Joby has released an app to accompany the GripTight but that only works on iOS for the moment. 

For those of you who are still skeptical about the possibilities, let me define what the Joby Griptight can do for you. 

1. Low ISO Capture

With the right app, I was able to shoot with a low ISO of between ISO32 to ISO64 in low light. 

2. Exposure Stacking for better Dynamic Range

Low ISO capture coupled with multiple exposure will give you a low noise, higher dynamic range image. 

3. Time Lapse Capture

Time Lapse video is plenty fun but it is impossible to hold a device for long periods unless you're a trained mime act who specializes in being motionless for long periods of time. All other mortals will need a GripTight stand for this.

In the next Installment, we will examine these capabilities in greater detail. Until then, stay tuned.


  1. With the smartphones screens are big it is now possible to enjoy watching movies on your smartphones and this tool is a must have thing for the purpose.

    Prasant Saxsena

    Software Development Company