The innovative company Miggo just announced a new kickstarter project to follow up on previous successes such as the Agua (which I will be reviewing in the future). The Pictar is a new photography tool that will help you gain complete control over your iPhone and make it so much easier to take quality photographs. Given Tracy Munson's recent article about how to take amazing iPhone photographs, I felt the timing of this announcement was a perfect follow-up.
I also thought the timing would be great following my article last week about why all photographers should give street photography a try. In that article, I discussed how valuable keeping a low-profile can be when capturing images of people in public. You cannot get more low-profile than an iPhone and several street photographers have had great success shooting predominantly with the iPhone. This is especially useful when shooting someplace like a bus or train.
What is Pictar?
The Pictar is a pretty simple concept with amazing technology built into it. I have to disclose I have not had the chance to use one yet (I will as soon as they go into production), but last week I was on a video conference with Miggo headquarters in Israel and they showed me a pre-production model and explained the technology to me. My information and opinions are based solely on what I saw on that video conference and supplement materials I have reviewed.
The Pictar is a camera case that fits over about 2/3 of your iPhone 4, 5 or 6. It weighs 60 grams (2.11 ounces) and snaps over your camera such that your iPhone screen is the viewfinder in a classic camera feel.
This gives you the ability to use your iPhone as you would a normal camera with the ergonomic feel that makes shooting comfortable and gives you all the buttons and features you are used to.
I assume most of you are more like me and less like Tracy Munson in that mobile photography to me means you tap the screen to focus and press the button to take the image, hoping you captures something worthwhile. Tracy showed us there are many different apps and methods for tapping into the iPhone's power to create beautiful images given the increased ability of its sensor and technology. Pictar is a tool I think can make a lot of that easier without requiring a bunch of third-party apps.
How Pictar Works
Unfortunately, you can't change the aperture on the iphone, but you can change the ISO and shutter speed. While there are apps out there to help you do this, the Pictar allows you to do it with a dial more like you would on a normal camera.
As you see in the above image, there is also a shutter release that works how we are used to-press halfway down to focus and then all the way down to shoot. The zoom ring on the front allows you to zoom in and out without having to do that annoying pinching your fingers on the screen. I can't tell you how much I hate doing that and never use my zoom because it annoys me so much!
For me, the coolest part about Pictar is the technology that went into it. Miggo spent over two years developing an app that allows the Pictar to communicate to the iPhone through inaudible (to us) sound. In essence, the Pictar makes a different sound or frequency (sorry if I slaughter the technicalities for all you engineer types) for every command. The iPhone recognizes that sound and the Pictar app triggers the iPhone to take a corresponding action based on the command. What this really means to us is the Pictar does not have to rely on Bluetooth technology to communicate to the iPhone. We all know Bluetooth drains your phone battery, and, unless your phone is brand new, you probably do not have much battery to spare.
Don't worry, by tapping on the zoom, you can alternate between front and rear cameras and use the shutter button to more easily capture those all-important selfies! I find it difficult to take selfies on my phone, especially with other people (which honestly is the only time I ever take them (also, I guess that wouldn't be a selfie)), but they showed me on the conference call how easy it was with the shutter button. Plus, check out the models below who I am sure responsibly pulled off the side of the road to selfie (is that a verb?) their road trip adventure!
Hopefully you also noticed the tripod socket. That means no more dealing with those weird (and often expensive) iPhone tripods. Instead, you can use any of your normal tripods to slow down the shutter to capture creative images or take a group shot with friends and family using a cheap table-top tripod you can throw in your purse or car for use on any social occasion.
Finally, the Pictar allows you to add some cool tools to you iPhone such as an external flash. With the external flash or the built-in iPhone flash, the Pictar app has a slider where you can control the power of the flash with your thumb to create the right amount of light.
Everyone, I hope I didn't annoy you by sounding like an advertisement! That is not what I intended to do at all, it just kind of came out that way as I typed. I am not here to sell you anything, I was treated to a sneak peak of this new tool and was intrigued with the possibilities it might create and thought it was especially relevant given the articles I referenced above. If it is something you are interested in, head over to the kickstarter page and look into it some more or wait for me to get my hands on one so I can provide an actual review once I have put it to the test.
The kickstarter has now launched and the Pictar starts at $70.
The Pictar kickstarter was fully funded after only three days! Due to significant demand, Miggo has announced they will offer Pictar for the iPhone 6s Plus.