If you've got a one-of-a-kind, innovative invention, one of the best routes to bring it to market these days is through Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a website that allows dreamers to showcase their unique product concepts via images, videos and descriptions for all to see, and generate funding.
When a project receives enough capital, it is brought to market and begins shipping. Of course, the number of photography-related product concepts is significant, ranging from unconventional iPhone lens attachments to indestructable DSLR camera cases, but we've sifted through a huge number of Kickstarter photo product concepts to bring you our favorites. With any luck, all of the 11 projects listed in this article will end up on dealers' shelves - virtual and actual - very soon. You can click the product names in the following list to jump straight to the relevant section of this article, or start reading from the beginning.
- iZZi Orbit - a case and lens solution for iPhone 4/4S & iPhone 5
- Quikdraw - an innovative lens holster
- CameraMator - a wireless tethered photography solution for iPhone/iPad
- Cam Crate - a life-proof DSLR case
- Rhino Slider - an affordable 48" DSLR/video dolly
- Lens/Focus Shifter - a lens-mounted follow-focus adapter
- SnapFocus - a modular follow-focus system
- EZ-Steady - a video stabilizer for phones and cameras
- Trygger - an iPhone case with integrated polarizing filter
- Cineskates - an affordable DSLR/video camera dolly
- Astro - a programmable time-lapse and motion controller
Note that some of these products aren't available for purchase yet. The prices given in this article are either the manufacturer's recommended price (if the device is available) or the projected retail price if it's still in the pre-order or shipping-to-backers phase. Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments.
iZZi Orbit by Jayson Guzman
A case and lens solution for iPhone 4/4S & iPhone 5
$229.99 (iPhone 4/4S) $239.99 (iPhone 5)
The iZZi Orbit is an iPhone 4/4S/5 case concept that incorporates a bullet chamber-style lens roulette, enabling the photographer to quickly shoot in Fisheye, Wide-angle or Telephoto focal lengths. I, along with other photo-obsessed iPhone owners, have longed for a case design that bolsters the phone's ergononomics and enhances its lens capability. The iZZi Orbit could be the answer. Constructed of anodized 'aircraft grade' aluminum the iZZi Orbit housing features a prominent right hand grip marketed as a 'Sure Hand Stabilizing Grip'. This prominent grip design seems reminiscent of several Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoots of yore. The Orbit case is also equipped with three tripod mounts and holes to string a wrist strap through.
|The iZZi Orbit adds a substantial grip to the iPhone, three tripod mounts, and a choice of three lens converters, allowing you to swap quickly between fisheye, wideangle and telephoto focal lengths.|
But that's not the iZZi Orbit's primary feature. The iZZi Orbit has a trio of different conversion lenses that rotate along a spindle using 'Peripheral Motion Lock Technology'. This means iPhone owners will have access to a 180-degree fisheye, 0.67X wide-angle and 2X telephoto lens to shoot with on the fly. Compared to some similar multi-lens accessories, the iZZi Orbit promises to be more versatile and considerably quicker to use.
iZZi is also offering the Solo case, which is the same thing as the Orbit, but without a choice of lenses. You kjust get one - a wideangle. Personally, think the Orbit will be the moneymaker. The iZZi Orbit will come in Black, Red and Silver, and the only kicker at the moment is its price of $230 (add $10 for the iPhone 5 version) which puts it in the same price bracket as an iPhone (with a contract).
Quikdraw by Riley Kimball
An innovative around-the-belt lens holster
$80 (per single lens unit)
Have you ever imagined yourself as Rambo during a photo shoot, quick on the draw with your lenses and machine-gunning away at high fps rates? The Quikdraw lens belt holster system could be the answer to your battlefield prayers. Compatible with any standard-size belt, the Quikdraw is basically a dummy lensmount, which allows you to attach your lenses just as if you were mating them with your DSLR, using the same twist-lock mechanism. It enables photographers to keep several different focal lengths on their person at once, secured by their lens-mount attachments. The product will be sold singly.
|The Quikdraw modular lens holster system allows you to get very quick access to your lenses, without needing to fumble about in a camerabag.|
Made of aircraft-grade aluminum (that term again...) and precision molded plastic, the inventor claims that when hanging vertically, lenses will stay in place and will not disengage. To mount or remove a lens you must hinge the mount up, pulling the lens parallel with the ground. A single Quikdraw can hold up to 20 pounds, which will suit most telephotos. A tactical belt will also be offered as part of a Quikdraw package if you don't trust the structural integrity of that old leather thing you've strung around your pants for years. For now, Quikdraw is only being made in Canon EOS and Nikon F-mount versions, but that could change if the product ships.
Speaking of which, the Quikdraw has now exceeded its pledge goal and will most likely become a reality. We can't wait.
CameraMator by Usman Rashid
A wireless tethered photography solution for iPhone/iPad
Tethered photography and location shooting go together like peanut butter and jelly [not on my home planet... Ed.] but the creator of the CameraMator wants to take things to the next level. How about wireless tethering via an iPad or iPhone? Yes, CameraMator is a wireless tethering module that will enable photographers to use an iPad or iPhone as a remote viewfinder and wirelessly transfer images to the aforementioned devices during shoots.
|The CameraMator (pictured here mounted on the hotshoe of a DSLR) allows you to use an iOS phone or tablet computer to wirelessly control your camera, and preview the scene you're capturing.|
So how does it work? The CameraMator unit connects to a DSLR (no mention so far of other camera types) through a USB connection and attaches via the hotshoe. Since the hotshoe's power is not needed, an L-bracket can be used to free up the camera's hotshoe for an external flash or other device. The CameraMator creates its own wireless network for the iPad or iPhone to connect to. Using the CameraMator app, photographers can then control the camera, view images, set the self-timer, execute HDR bracketing and more.
Currently, the CameraMator is compatible with a handful of Canon and Nikon DSLRs, though its designer claims that when commercially available, it will be compatible with all major DSLRs of the past five years. CameraMator has exceeded its pledge goal, and the finished product will be shipping to its kickstarter backers next month. Hopefully we'll see a production run very soon.