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Padcaster / Lenscaster lets you mount SLR lenses on iPad, we go hands-on at NAB (video)

Zach Honig
April 18, 2012
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Think people look ridiculous shooting stills or video with an iPad? Try throwing an SLR lens into the equation as well. Manhattan Edit Workshop founder Josh Apter developed the Padcaster as an inexpensive solution for mounting an Apple iPad on a tripod. And why would you want to do such a thing? With 1080p video capture, built-in LTE and a on-board editing suite, such a device makes for an excellent on-the-go all-in-one, letting you shoot, cut and transmit video with a single package. One major aspect of visual storytelling that the tablet doesn't excel at, however, is emphasizing details with blurred backgrounds, along with magnifying your subject with optical zoom. Enter the Lenscaster. This universal lens mount lets you use a standard 35mm adapter to attach any SLR optic to the iPad camera, enabling a small variety of hardware-driven optical effects, including shallow depth of field, manual focus and a zoom option that doesn't result in detail loss.

Apter took the Padcaster and Lenscaster along on a demo shoot in New York City's Union Square, interviewing passersby with a Cinevate 35mm lens adapter, 85mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss lens and a Sennheiser MKH-60 shotgun mic, all mounted to a Padcaster-equipped new iPad. The mounting duo may note be visually appealing from a physical perspective, but the resulting footage does look convincing -- you can see it in full after the break. The Padcaster's aluminum frame even doubles as a DSLR cage, letting you assemble a pro rig complete with camera, lens, mic and lights after removing the urethane iPad insert. The designer is also working on an iPad insert, though the tablet-sized contraption may prove to be overkill when paired with a pocketable smartphone. The Padcaster will be available soon for "about $200," while the Lenscaster attachment should ship for an additional 60 bucks. You'll also need to factor in a magnification optic to compensate for the distance between the iPad and the lens, along with a 35mm adapter, both of which are not included. The device is also unable to take full advantage of the iPad's resolution, creating black borders around the image, which you'll notice in the sample video, positioned just below our hands-on video right after the break.

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