Category: Photography Gear
Model: LiveAction Camera Grip
Requirements: iPhone 4/4S
TiP Rating: 3/5 stars
The Camera Grip turns your point-and-shoot rivalling iPhone 4S/4 in to a point-and-shoot feel-alike. The ergonomic design and well-placed buttons provide a much better feel than using the volume key on your handset, but the exclusive compatibility with Belkin’s LiveAction app tarnishes the experience somewhat.
For many photography enthusiasts out there the iPhone 4 and 4S brought with them a refreshingly great camera experience. For the first time – bar a few Nokias – we finally had a smartphone with a snapper great enough to take out instead of our trusty little compact cameras. The only problem – touching the onscreen virtual shutter button, or the volume key aren’t exactly great methods of taking photos. Both require re-jigging the way you’d normally hold a camera. Belkin’s Camera Grip solves the issue.
The accessory has been designed to grip on to your iPhone 4/4S even when you have a case. Arms on the top and bottom both manually shift up and down to fit phones adorned even with some of the bulkiest cases. Protruding from the side you have the 30-pin connector which slides inside your phone. Unlike many external control systems, it’s not Bluetooth. On the top there are two buttons: a large black button for capturing still images and a small red one for video. The still shutter button gives a pleasantly subtle “click” when depressed and is easily accessible. The smaller key isn’t raised like the other, and requires a more deliberate action to press down. I’m not complaining – I like to know that it’s not easy to initiate the wrong command. One fantastic feature is that it screws on to your tripod, giving you that real camera feel and giving you a more sturdy platform. Hopefully no more blurry cam.
This accessory doesn’t come on its own, you need to download the Belkin LiveAction app. Although, normally this would be fine, this time it isn’t. The app is poor compared to Apple’s own native Camera app. LiveAction is simple enough to use. Touch an area on the screen to focus, drag the horizontal bar to – well – zoom. You can switch off flash or set it to auto or on, and set a timer; the usual camera stuff. My big issue with it is that the image is nowhere near as wide as the default Camera apps, which means it’s useless for landscapes. I zoomed out as far as possible to compare images below:
To top it off, the shutter is also a little slower when the button is depressed than it would be if I used the standard Camera app and the volume key. Overall, on the app side, it’s a disappointing experience. Since the app and accessory are inseparable, you can’t judge one without the other. If the grip came on its own and was compatible with other great photography apps, or the camera app, it would get a solid 5/5 stars. It has the potential to be an incredible tool. All it needs is for Belkin to convince app makers to make their software Camera Grip compatible. As it is, I’m left feeling a little disappointed.