So, you've always wanted to be able to take one of those cool time-lapse iPhone movies that slowly pans from one direction to another? Now you can do it easily and inexpensively with the Camalapse, a US$25 accessory that works with a Glif ($20) or other iPhone tripod mount to give your iPhone a spin as it's taking a movie.
Basically, the inventors had a simple idea. Take something like a one-hour mechanical windup kitchen timer, put a tripod mount on top of it, and voilà! You can use your favorite time-lapse photography app while the iPhone (or other lightweight camera) slowly pans around up to a full 360°.
kitchen timer Camalapse takes exactly one hour to make a 360° spin, or it can be set to do 90° in fifteen minutes ... you get the drift. And since the device is essentially a timer, it ticks as it is slowly rotating and some early versions apparently "ding!" when the device has finished the rotation. I think that's a brilliant idea, and I find it discouraging that the bell has been removed.
There's also a threaded socket on the bottom of the Camalapse so you can stick it on a tripod or other mount. The device weighs only about 2 ounces, and is about 2 inches high and about 2.5 inches in diameter.
It works as designed, with no frills and no batteries required. As such, it runs at a fixed rate -- basically 360° per hour or 6° per minute. If you want a faster or slower pan rate, you're out of luck. But for most people, I think they'll like the ability to set this device up with a Glif and iPhone on top of it and let it rip.
Of course, you'll need an app to actually take the photos. I did a search in the App Store using "time lapse" as a keyword, and found that the aptly-named TimeLapse ($1.99) has some of the better ratings in this genre. The app rings upon completing a time lapse session, therefore making that internal bell in the Camalapse unnecessary. It's quite easy to use and well-implemented.
After installing the app and setting it to take 15 minutes -- 90° -- of images, I let 'er rip and here's the result. Notice the smooth panning, even if the video subject isn't the most exciting:
If you need a way to slowly pan your iPhone or another small camera to take time lapse movies, then the Camalapse is the accessory for you. It's simple in concept and does a fine job without adding unnecessary fluff. That being said, I wish it did a bit more.
Marked for 15, 30, 45 and 60-minute rotations
Needs no batteries
Very lightweight and compact
Perfect for creating stunning panning time lapse movies
Only pans from right to left (counterclockwise)
Rotation speed is not variable
Who is it for?
The iPhoneographer who wants to start shooting panning time lapse movies
Many thanks to our friends at Photojojo for lending a Camalapse for testing