Let's take a look at this trio of accessories and their companion app, Belkin LiveAction (Free).
Belkin LiveAction Camera Grip
The thinking behind the design of the LiveAction Camera Grip (US$40) is that the iPhone and iPod touch aren't really set up like traditional cameras. The Camera Grip provides an easy way to hold your iPod touch or iPhone 4/4S in one hand and then push a large black button conveniently placed at the tip of your index finger to take the photo. There's a smaller red button that starts and stops video recording with your device.
The Camera Grip installs easily on all "naked" devices and on iPhones with slim cases. Part of the grip plugs into the 30-pin dock connector port, while two spring-loaded arms grip the body of the iPhone tightly. On the bottom of the grip is a standard tripod screw mount for those situations where you want to use a monopod or tripod.
The location of the shutter button is perfect for right-handers, and the video start/stop button is relatively flat so that you don't accidentally start shooting video when you mean to take a still photo. It's a very comfortable grip as well, and doesn't add the weight and bulk of some other grips like the OWLE bubo.
So far, so good. I love the feel of the Camera Grip and the way that it allows one-handed shooting. But unfortunately the Camera Grip can only be used with the LiveAction app, and it's not the best photography app out there. If you like to shoot snaps with Instagram and share them with friends, or you're a fan of the awesome Camera+ app, you're out of luck. Belkin's LiveAction app only allows direct sharing to Facebook, through email, and saving images to your Camera Roll.
However, if you want to use the three LiveAction accessories, you're stuck with the LiveAction app. For those who just use the standard iPhone camera app, it's an acceptable tradeoff, but those who love their other camera apps won't be happy.
Belkin LiveAction Camera Remote
The second device in the trio is the LiveAction Camera Remote ($40), which provides an easy way to take photos The Camera Remote is actually a Bluetooth device and comes with a pair of AAA batteries to power the connection between your iPhone and the remote.
The remote comes in two pieces -- the handheld remote with a large black (photo) and small red (video) button, the batteries, and the electronics, and a smaller piece that clips onto the iPhone and acts as a stand. The two pieces snap together for transport.
The iPhone and Camera Remote are paired, and as with the Camera Grip, the remote only works with the Belkin LiveAction app. I had some issues with the Bluetooth pairing process, and it appears that this is common as there's a note with the remote that says that you will see a "pairing unsuccessful" popup on the iPhone before the device is actually paired -- go figure...
When the remote button is pushed, there's about a one-second delay before the photo is taken or the video capture begins. I found that I was able to walk about 40 feet away before the Camera Remote no longer worked; I'm not sure I would want to leave my iPhone on a table unattended 40 feet away!
It should be noted that the LiveAction app has a self-timer (5 or 10 seconds) if you wish to use that for group portraits.
Belkin LiveAction Mic
The final part of the set is the Belkin LiveAction Mic ($40). It's a small directional microphone that plugs into the headphone jack of your iPhone. There's a small thumbwheel that is turned to secure the mic to your iPhone.
This is the only part of the LiveAction trio that doesn't require the Belkin LiveAction app. The mic can be used with any sound or video recording application just fine. The power switch on the mic also serves to set up the response pattern -- wide or narrow. Narrow is excellent for recording someone who is standing a distance away from you and talking, as it tends to block out sounds from the side.
The mic seems to be very sensitive, which (coupled with the narrow response pattern) will be perfect for recording audio in conditions where there is a lot of ambient noise. The mic is powered by a single AAA battery.
Conclusion and Giveaway
While the Belkin LiveAction app requirement makes two of these well-constructed iPhone camera add-ons a bit less useful than they could be, all three can find a welcome place in the iPhoneographer's grab bag. I'm hoping that Belkin makes an API available to other camera app developers so that the Camera Grip and the Remote can be used with other apps, as that will make them much more useful.
Now here's your chance to win all three of these great little camera add-ons courtesy of Photojojo.com and TUAW. Just fill out the form below, follow the rules, and you'll have an opportunity to win $120 worth of Belkin LiveAction tools.
Here are the rules for the giveaway:
Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
The entry must be made before April 15, 2012 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
You may enter only once.
One winner will be selected and will receive a Belkin LiveAction Mic worth $40, a Belkin LiveAction Camera Grip worth $40, and a Belkin LiveAction Camera Remote worth $40.
Click Here for complete Official Rules.