There is a saying: “The best camera is the one that you have with you.” Indeed, with digital cameras getting smaller by the day, more people are finding it much easier to just chuck one into their bags. But there is one image-capturing device that most of us have, and which resides most of the time in our pockets. Yes, we're referring to the mobile phone. And if you are an iPhone 4 user, and are deeply into iPhone photography, there is a neat little piece of accessory for you: it’s called the Glif. It is a tripod mount and stand specifically designed for the iPhone 4.
Before we explore the Glif in further detail, its origins make for an interesting story. The idea of creating a tripod mount and stand for the iPhone 4 was first mooted by Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost, who now sell the Glif through their company, Studio Neat. The first call-to-action was actually done on the Kickstarter website, which is a “funding platform for creative projects in the world”.
The premise is simple: pitch your idea on Kickstarter; people who like your idea pledge some money (in most cases, it is akin to a pre-order of the product); you get the money only if the funding goal is met; you make the product, and deliver it to your backers.
The Glif had a funding goal of US$10,000. At the end of the pledging period, it received pledges amounting to US$137,417.
First, the bad news. The Glif is designed for use with a “naked” iPhone 4. A screen protector is fine, but a case is a definite no-no. It has a quarter-inch diameter, 20 threads per inch thread (the same one you find at the bottom of your digital camera), so it should fit the screw of most (if not all) tripod and camera mounts. The iPhone 4 fits snugly onto the Glif in either portrait or landscape orientation. The Glif‘s rubberized plastic should not scratch your iPhone, though we recommend keeping both phone and attachment clean to prevent any scratching mishaps during the snap-on/pull-off actions.
For many of us, our phones are usually either in our pockets or lying flat down on our desks. For the latter scenario, whenever there is a new message, you have to either lean forward or pick up the phone to read it. Another feature of the Glif is that it can be used as a tabletop stand to prop up the iPhone. Both vertical (useful for FaceTime video calling) and horizontal (great for movie viewing) setups are possible. The former props up the phone at about a 15-degree angle, whereas the latter at about a 35-degree angle.
The Glif is a simple but elegant solution for getting the iPhone 4 onto a tripod. With some thoughtful design, it serves well as a stand too. We do have one small gripe: the fit is tighter when used in the landscape orientation, simply because there is more area for the Glif to grip onto. Thus, be mindful of the effect of gravity when you tilt the tripod head.
If you are a casual snapper, there is probably little incentive to shell out US$20 for the Glif. But for those who heavily utilize the iPhone 4’s camera functions, and wish to minimize any unnecessary image blur due to camera shake, the Glif is a nifty and unobtrusive accessory to have in a backpack.