Smartphone cameras are great because they’re always there when you need them. But who ever thought that shooting a pic while held in one hand, tapping a screen button or punching a side tab wouldn’t result in picture-ruining vibrations was nuts. For most of us it’s hard enough to hold ourselves steady, much less the phone while we’re shooting a pic or video. And no matter how much tech is packed inside, GIGO rules (garbage in, garbage out) so it makes sense to use old fashioned methods to insure the picture is shot right. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go “old school” with new tech — specifically Bluetooth — providing you’re using GRIP&SHOOT.
GRIP&SHOOT consists of two parts: the first being an iPhone case that the iPhone goes into (it comes with two for use with an iPhone 5/5S or 4S). The case then slides into to attach to the top of a handgrip (called a Smart Grip) using a simple press in of a locking tab. The Smart Grip is of hard plastic and shaped like a joystick; the fingers curve around an ergonomic grip with side pads and the index finger curls naturally against the trigger. The Smart Grip has a tripod socket covered by a screw at its bottom— this entire section can be removed by loosening another locking tab. The reason for doing this is simple: the iPhone can now be stood up horizontally (or attached to a tripod), with the Smart Grip now used as a remote trigger for shooting. Sans this use, the bottom has a tripod screw mount.
To use the GRIP&SHOOT, it’s iOS app must have been downloaded.— right now it only works with its own app (although developers can get the coding needed to integrate its use with their apps). The app syncs both video and still photo functions, as well as controlling zoom through +/- buttons found on the back top side of the controller. Tap focusing and switching between video and still photography are done at the app, as is turning the “flash” on or off. All the features are obvious when viewed and a nice built-in function is that the light goes on and stays on for video illumination, unless turned off. But shooting vertically is verboten — the app is only designed for horizontal use.
Because of the specialized nature of the GRIP&SHOOT iPhone case, it makes more sense to carry it around with you for when it’s needed than to have it attached at all times (the case doesn’t provide the kind of protection found in the specialized cases that many keep on their iPhones). But rather than sticking it in a pocket, provided is a semi-rigid pouch that attaches to a belt or can be hooked on to a belt loop or otherwise with a spring-loaded clip. Think of it as a glasses case, only one designed for carrying around the GRIP&SHOOT’s iPhone case, along with a second compartment that holds the Smart Grip. Also, both compartments have lids that snap shut through the use of magnets.
I took the GRIP&SHOOT for a video spin outside as well as for shooting some stills and found using the camera one-handed a delight as it reminded me of my old days of shooting on-the-go with a rangefinder camera. I also used it indoors to shoot some stills of my wife’s sculptures inside a light box whose illumination always slowed down the speed of my iPhone 5. Before, I had to hold my breath and use both hands to hold the phone steady for a picture but now it was an easy, one-handed affair. And I really, really liked how fast you could shoot using the trigger — it was extremely sensitive and made shooting 2-3-4 shots one after the other both simple as well as effective.
Two things that must be mentioned are that bringing up the app has you syncing the GRIP&SHOOT (a great convenience over the usual pairing needs for Bluetooth) and that the button battery powering everything gets replaced when drained. So no having to look for a USB socket or carrying around (yet) another power plug. 10,000 clicks per battery should last quite a while I think.
Bottom line: The GRIP&SHOOT does exactly what it says and does it well. Add the carrying pouch to the $99.99 price tag and it’s more than just a bargain — it’s a highly useful accessory for anyone who wants what they shoot to be free of the “shakes.”
100 foot range, Remote control capabilities
Difficult to remove iPhone from case
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.