After my TUAW TV Live iPhoneography episode last week, I was not surprised to see another photography accessory show up in the mail. After all, this seems to be one part of the accessory market that's booming right now. iStabilizer, the same company that brought us the innovative Dolly, is shipping the Monopod (US$34.95) to help you take pictures or video from a whole new angle.
First, let me mention something -- I own a Manfrotto Monopod with a quick-release mount and three hidden legs that fold out when I need a virtual photographic assistant. It's amazing, it's sturdy, and it's also expensive; I think it put me back about $150. But it has come in handy for shooting video, making podcasts, and taking shots with my camera high up in the air. Yes, one of my favorite uses for that expensive Monopod is not to hold the camera still, but to get the camera into the air where my point of view is above the crowd.
That's the primary purpose for the iStabilizer Monopod. It doesn't come with little legs to let it stand on its own, although I suppose you could mount it on a mini-tripod to do that. And it's not designed to hold a DSLR or HD video camera; instead, it's made to hold an iPhone, iPod touch, Android phone or POV camera (like the GoPro). You can either put the base of the Monopod on the ground to help you stabilize long-duration exposures, or use the padded grip as a handhold and put the iPhone well above or below a crowd.
Want to shoot some video from the viewpoint of a dog or cat? Pop your iPhone onto the Monopod, fire up the Camera, and start shooting from a few inches above the ground as you walk around. Want to catch a close-up of an architectural detail on a building that's just out of reach? Extend the Monopod to its full length of over 3 feet, suddenly you have a very long arm. In the video at the end of this post, one of iStabilizer's staff members shows how you can use it to video yourself while you're walking.
iStabilizer seems to focus on shooting video with this tool, but you can use apps like my favorite -- Camera+ (on sale for US$0.99 right now) -- to set a timer for up to 30 seconds so that you can tap the shutter button and then get the iPhone's camera in place for your best picture.
The one feature I like the most about the iStabilizer Monopod is how short it is when collapsed. The Manfrotto Monopod I have is 29 inches long when fully collapsed, and it barely fits in my biggest suitcase. The iStabilizer Monopod is exactly half that length and perfect for travel. One other benefit? It uses the same spring-loaded clamp to hold the iPhone that was used on the Dolly, so you can attach your iPhone without needing to remove it from a case.
Locking aluminum telescoping arm is quite sturdy
No need to remove iPhone from case before installing it on Monopod
Short enough to go into almost any camera bag or backpack
Threaded on the bottom for attachment to a tripod for self-supported use
Clamp holds iPhone or other lightweight camera very securely
Includes wrist strap
None that I can find
Who is it for?
The iPhone photographer or videographer who wants an inexpensive and versatile accessory for stabilizing shots or enabling unique vantage points.