Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snapzoom for Telephoto Moblie Photography

Got any old binoculars that you haven't used in a while? Why not turn that into a telephoto zoom lens for your iPhone or Samsung device?

Yes, I'm afraid so, the idea of a binoculars attachment isn't new and neither is the concept. Binoculars adaptors have been around for ages and a wise photog from a newspaper even shot the Olympics with one.

The Low Down on Phone Scoping

Snapzoom is probably the most innovative of the lot. There has been many such inventions in the past and they are dedicated to one particular phone type. Snapzoom on the other hand will fit just about any phone camera and scope you can imagine, including those used for astronomy and the science lab.

The question now is does it live up to expectations? Just take a look at the sample pictures posted on Kickstarter and you'll get what I mean.

Not all binoculars are made the same, some have eyecups, while others are not made for wearing glasses. The best fit for the Snapzoom is a binoculars made for high eyepoint viewing with between 6x to 10x zoom— if you are using it hand held. Any more than 10x will require a tripod as the minute shakes of your hand gets amplified into a 9.0 Richter Scale earthquake.

Snapzoom couples well with quality scopes of any kind and is the tool of choice  for wildlife or sports photography. I have seen anyone shooting motorsports with it as yet but it is capable of doing this with burst mode enabled on your device camera.

in 35mm full frame speak,  a 10x zoom can give you a 300mm telephoto view if you are using it on a mobile phone camera (the smartphone lens are often made in the ballpark of 30mm so 10x will give you 300mm). Remember that a good scope will show its colors while a poor one will give you lots of color fringing.

Image quality is dependent on your scope of binocular of choice. The one size fits all SnapZoom isn’t made to optically accommodate the optical demands of a professional shooter so you have to be a little forgiving. Another problem is that off center, image quality starts to degrade rapidly towards the edge of the frame. No fault of your phone camera of course, it is just that the lenses don’t couple well. Some binoculars coupling may even result in bad vignetting—where the corner edges of the frame are severely darkened.

Vignetting Avain?
The Conlcusion

When it pairs well, then you’re going to get a great telephoto lens without paying for an optional clip on lens which is cheaply made. So far, I have only found telephoto and macro add on lenses to perform within expectations. Wide angle lenses still don't work well for a host of reasons (due to optical coupling) so I would stay away from them as much as possible.

Such an add-on will be a serious requirement for serious mobile photographers. I would get one if I was shooting babes on the beach all day but unlike you, I am a dedicated professional, so that means the beach and babes will have to wait!


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