Tripods: Lending a steady hand for your Windows Phone camera
While there are a pile of Windows Phone photography apps to help you take quality and sometimes unique pictures with your Windows Phone camera, if you use this camera with regularity, there's one accessory you really need to consider investing in. A tripod and tripod mount. Okay, so that's actually two but they kinda go hand in hand...
A tripod will help you keep your Windows Phone steady to avoid motion blur with those low light photos, allow you keep your Windows Phone stationary while shooting video and with apps like Camera Timer (free) lets you jump in the picture at times. And we're not talking about a major investment. There are quality tripods out there that range from $20 and higher. Tripod mounts are in the same price range as well.
Many Windows Phone users will already have a tripod for their stand alone digital camera or video camera. In these cases all you'll need is a tripod mount for your Windows Phone. For those will need a tripod, you can look at the desktop tripods such as Joby Gorilla Pods (about $12 and up) or a more traditional full size tripod that can be found for as little as $20 and as expensive as a few hundred dollars.
The Gorilla Pods are strong enough to handle the weight (yes, even the "heavy" Lumia 920) of our Windows Phone and flexible enough to handle a variety of situations. You can bend them at angles, wrap them around posts or just stand them upright. Personally, I like the Gorilla Pods with magnetic feet to give me a little more flexibility.
Without a tripod mount built into our Windows Phones you'll need to invest in a mount that will hold your Windows Phone on the tripod. Here are three options that I've used and found to be capable of keeping things steady.
iStabilizer ($19.95): The iStabilizer has a padded arm that extends to hold your Windows Phone in place. The base is padded as well to prevent scratches and to hold things in place better. Every now and then the little rubber pad that protects your Windows Phone from the metal clamp will pop out while extending the iStabilizer. This is more of an inconvience than problem because the rubber pad slides back into place easily.
The iStabilizer handles the Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC 8X nicely. The HTC Titan II and Lumia 920 stretches the extension arm to it's limits though. If we see any Windows Phone much larger, I'm not sure the iStabilizer will work out. The iStabilizer is running $19.95 and you can find it here at the Windows Phone Central Accessory Store.
Nokia HH-23 Tripod Mount ($14.99): The Nokia HH-23 was designed for the Pureview 808 phone but does rather nicely with our Windows Phones. The upper and lower pads on the Nokia Mount extends to pinch your Windows Phone. The padding is a little firm for my tastes but the mount does hold things in place nicely.
Where the iStabilizer is constructed of metal and plastic, the Nokia is completely plastic. It feels durable but the further you extend the mount, the plastic bows just a little. While the Nokia Mount will extend enough to handle the Lumia 920 and HTC Titan II, it is better suited for the narrower Windows Phones such as the Lumia 900 and HTC 8X.
You can find the Nokia HH-23 Tripod Mount here at Amazon.com.
i.Trek Mounts ($15 and up): The i.Trek tripod mounts are likely the sturdiest option and is designed more like a vise.
Made of aluminum, your Windows Phone is placed in the mount and you basically screw tighten the padded sections to hold the phone into place. You just need to be careful not to over tighten the mount or you may create enough pressure to damage the screen.
There are a few models of the i.Trek mounts that mainly vary by color or with/without an extension arm. You can mount your Windows Phone horizontally or vertically and the i.Trek can also double as a stand for your phone.
The i.Trek starts in the neighborhood of $15 and you can find the i.Trek here at Amazon.com.
Which is the best? Tough call. The more I use the i.Trek, the more I like it. The aluminum construction has a solid feel to it and it holds things in place nicely. You also have a vertical option with the i.Trek that you don't have with the Nokia or iStabilizer.
I like the compactness of the Nokia but the build quality is suspect. I would have liked to have seen Nokia use metal extension arms or something a little more sturdy. The iStabilizer works really well and can be bundled nicely with tripods and other accessories. The only real draw back being that you'll have to rely on your tripod to position your camera in the vertical position.
Again, whichever option you pursue, the investment can be minimal. You can find the iStabilizer mount bundled with a table top tripod here at the WPCentral.com Store for about $30.
Not everyone will need a tripod and mount for their Windows Phone but they can come in handy in using your camera. Just like the magnetic lens adapters, a tripod and mount are just another tool that can expand the capabilities of your Windows Phone camera.