Smartphones like the iPhone are capable of shooting high-quality photos and videos (have you seen those "Shot on iPhone" commercials and advertisements?), but what if you could take it a step further and turn it into a professional camera? That's the idea behind the IndieVice. Its creators describe it as "a completely revolutionary approach to shooting professional videos and photographs with your smartphone." It's currently running a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the product.
We recently featured the product in our " Awesome Tech You Can't Buy Yet" column, but here's a closer look at the product. Fully loaded, the IndieVice resembles a professional video camera rig, but the main unit consists of a body that resembles a lens barrel. Made from "high impact, ultra light" plastic, the body is described as having an ergonomic form and fit, providing what we think is a pro-camera-like look and feel, as well as stability.
On the front is a Universal Mobile Phone Adapter that accommodates a smartphone, whether it's iPhone, Android, or Windows; the adapter will even work with large-sized phones such as the iPhone 6 Plus or Galaxy Note. Besides using the smartphone as camera (use a device with a high-quality camera.), the body also acts like a viewfinder, magnifying and sending the live view image to the viewfinder on the rear. The viewfinder has a dioptric adjustment wheel to correct focus, and simulates viewfinders on a pro filmmaking camera. You can also swivel the adapter around to use the smartphone's screen as a viewfinder or access the onscreen controls.
In front of the adapter is the Front Adjustable Platform, which has multiple uses. Like a sophisticated Olloclip, you can attach a zoom, macro, fisheye, or ultrawide lens. The lens adapter supports 52mm and 37mm lenses, as well as single element lenses. Users can use their own lenses (a Depth of Field Adapter lets you use SLR lenses), or purchase one through IndieVice. Despending on the lens, the whole rig can be either compact or massive.
The Front Adjustable Platform also supports optional adapters for GoPro's Wi-Fi-enabled Hero cameras and the Sony QX100 lens camera. With these products, the IndieVice uses them in place of the smartphone camera. With Wi-Fi pairing, the smartphone only functions as a live view monitor and controller fro the attached GoPro or Sony camera.
One useful feature is a remote Bluetooth controller. Located at the top of the body. The rocker switch lets you zoom in/out, start/stop video recording, or take a photo. Paired wirelessly with the smartphone, you can access the most basic functions without having to touch the smartphone screen.
In addition, you can attach a variety of accessories to the rig, such as flashes and lights, microphones, battery pack, or another smartphone to act as a secondary viewfinder. The accessories attach onto the Multi-Accessory Platform at the top via two brass threads, which doubles as a handle for below-the-waist shots. Below the body is a brass thread for tripods or stabilizers.
While the IndieVice mimics a professional video rig, remember that you are still shooting with a smartphone. As cool as it looks, we can't be certain how effective the whole thing actually works, how good are the lenses IndieVice is using, how well it functions wirelessly with smartphones, and how well it works with third-party lenses. But many recent indie films, like Tangerine, have used custom rigs to shoot with an iPhone (check out some other iPhone-made productions). If effective, the IndieVice could be an affordable alternative or backup video camera for small-budget productions.
There are several Kickstarter packages to choose from; you can get one by pledging at least $145. As of this writing, the IndieVice is near its funding goal, with 23 days to go. Shipping is scheduled for March 2016