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Watch Out Low-End Digicams: Here Comes the iPhone

Two new steadicam-like grips designed for the iPhone have surfaced. Beyond their immediate utility, the fact they exist drives home an interesting point: Low-end digital cameras should beware–the iPhone is about to steal your job.

Two new steadicam-like grips designed for the iPhone have surfaced. Beyond their immediate utility, the fact they exist drives home an interesting point: Low-end digital cameras should beware–the iPhone is about to steal your job.

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The first unit is a prototype from a new company dubbed Optical Widgets for Life Enhancement, and it’s a two-handed gamepad-like grip designed to make the whole business of holding the iPhone for taking photos and video much easier. Since the plastic bulk of the device obscures the phones ports, it has a plug-in front-facing microphone that uses the headphones port. And, fantastically, it sports a proper 37mm camcorder lens to boost the phone’s field of view. A full production run of version one of the device should be complete by the Holidays, and it’ll cost somewhere between $30 and $50. 

But that’s not all–thanks to the enhanced plug-in comms power of the updated iPhone firmware, OWLE plans that the next generation of their mount will connect via the 30-pin iPod socket. That’ll give the device stereo mic capability and may even allow for the phone to trigger an external flash, when using the right app.

Compared to this design, the Zgrip iPhone Pro from Zacuto sounds positively low-tech: All it does is steady your grip on the phone to make for less wobbly video footage. But there’s a plethora of adjustments so you can secure the phone at almost any angle to get a shot. And the sheer metal mass of the grip will act as an intertial damper, squashing many of the bumps and jerks that would otherwise create shaky film. For all this, and that “pro” label, you’ll have to pay more though: $295. If you’re not into pro-level iPhone shooting, then you’ll have to wait for a lower-spec consumer version.

The oddities of these two designs aside, they’re both proof that the iPhone 3G S has an interesting future ahead of it. Selling in the millions it’ll compete with many low-end digital cameras. And faced with a choice of filling your pockets or purse with a camera and a phone or just taking the phone, many people will choose the latter–making it the de facto digital camera of choice for quick moment-grabbing snaps or some video footage. That’s just the amateur angle too: There’s at least a couple of music videos that have already been made on the iPhone (“Play” by BJSR is shown below), and it’s just a matter of time until someone shoots a whole movie on one. If only Apple unlocked the phone’s full 720p recording capability–think what would happen then!

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