Review: The Glif

Within the first hour of owning the original iPhone I snapped my very first blurry iPhone picture. Crap. The iPhone suffers from the same problem every camera ever made has suffered from – low light photography means blurry pictures. If you have thousands of dollars to spend you can get a dSLR that has extremely high ISO settings – the setting that determines how sensitive the image sensor is to light. Of course with all technology that seems impossible there are drawbacks to using high ISO – the main drawback being a lot of digital noise (looks like odd colored specs throughout the image).

It is safe to say that if you are indoors you are working in a low light situation. So for most iPhone owners the cute pictures you want to take of your cats may come out a little blurry. The iPhone 4 helps with this by adding a flash and HDR settings – helps but doesn’t solve the problem.

HDR will do you little good because it requires snapping at least two images in rapid succession – which is great when you have fast shutter speeds, but leads to a ghost like figures appearing in your image at low shutter speeds (the shutter speed you use in low light).

The iPhone 4 flash helps a lot more, but leaves you with harsh unflattering pictures of people. Photographers will tell you that you need soft light on a person to make them look great. You get soft light by making the light “wrap around” the person you are shooting. Generally speaking this can be achieved by making the light source relatively larger than the subject and by diffusing the light with something as basic as a white bed sheet.

None of these items and techniques are likely to be carried by the average iPhone user.

This is where the Glif can come into help – it is not the first tripod mount for the iPhone, nor will it be the last. It is the best though.

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Let me save you some reading and tell you: iPhone 4 + Glif + Joby Gorilla Pod = awesomely sharp shots.

Let me save you even more time and tell you: You can use the Glif as a tripod for the iPhone – all by its self.

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Glif-in Out

When Glif started raising funds on Kickstarter I immediately gave $50 to the cause – this meant I got a pre-production unit and a production unit. Pretty sweet deal. When the pre-production unit arrived I was damned excited – turns out that unit wasn’t that great. It was good, but not great.

When I got home the other day though and the production unit had come in the mail I was again excited – though admittedly I tempered my excitement. Upon touching the production Glif I knew it was going to be great.

The pre-production Glif was made out of rigid plastic – the production model is made out of a flexible rubbery plastic. This makes a huge difference and is the reason that the production model Glif is, not just great, but excellent.

The thing I love about the Glif is that you needn’t have any special attachments for you iPhone – of any kind – the Glif secures the iPhone with friction. Now the flexibility of the plastic is what really holds the iPhone in. I noted when I first posted about the Glif that it never was able to hold my iPhone in when turned upside down. I can happily report that the production model Glif will not only hold your iPhone in while upside down – it will do so while you try and shake it out. How cool is that?

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Extending the Glif

Now the Glif over all is not that useful if you don’t have a tripod with you – which for most people is all the time. So it would seem that the Glif would not be that useable for most – thinking like that will get you made fun of though (by me).

You see the Glif was also made to work as a rudimentary stand – in landscape orientation the stand works exceptionally well. Flip to portrait though and well the phone doesn’t rest in a viewable position. BUT, if you slide the Glif all the way to the bottom of the phone you can stand the iPhone up 90° off of a flat surface – much more stable than it would be without the Glif. This also works for the landscape orientation.

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Meaning: if you have a flat surface near you and an iPhone+Glif, then you are going to get some crisp pictures.

It’s That Good

Here is the bottom-line: I have one pre-production Glif and one production Glif – I am still going to buy at least a couple more.

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Originally posted for members on: December 17, 2010
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