Handling and Performance
The Gizmon iCA provides an unusual alternative to the traditional plastic iPhone case. It adds a classic style camera around the iPhone so you look like you're holding a vintage camera rather than a phone. The logo on the packaging hints that this is Leitz copying at work, and when you see the camera you may certainly recognise elements of an old Leica rangefinder.
Gizmon iCA with 35mm f/2.4 pretend lens attached
Gizmon iCA Features
The Gizmon iCA is a plastic shell that wraps around an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4s with an exchangeable lens plate and a tripod mount. Once in place it means you can hold the iPhone like a conventional camera and from a distance it looks like a vintage Leica. There's a viewfinder to look through and a standard camera shutter release button, that presses down on the iPhone's + button. There's even a flash shoe and, although smaller than the real thing, the attention to detail is good, with miniature screws holding it down.
- Standard Tripod mount
- Shutter button that presses the phone camera's shutter button
- Normal optical viewfinder
- Shoulder strap lugs
- Accessory thread for lenses
Gizmon iCA Photos of Equipment
Gizmon iCA Handling & Performance
It took a few minutes to work out how to dismantle the case so the camera could be inserted. The instructions on the back of the packaging show the case sliding apart, but not how to remove the bits that lock it together. You have to clip off the tripod mount, slide the top plate to unlock, and detach the lens plate which is on a bayonet mount in two removable sections - lens and lens plate.
Once all these bits are removed the case slides apart. The phone fits snugly in place and you clip all the bits back on again.
One flaw is the thin strip that covers the left side and surrounds the USB socket. The strip is so thin and fragile it breaks easily, as ours did when first opening the case.
The kit comes with a soft pouch case and a second slim lens. It all looks quite realistic even down to the shutter speed dial on the front, rangefinder windows, knurled film rewinding knob and flash accessory shoe. There are also two metal split rings provided to attach a shoulder strap.
When it's all together the iPhone's lens pokes out of a hole in the bottom and this is the first design issue. If you're using the iPhone's built in camera it's fine, likewise with the feature packed Camera+, but Hipstamatic users will be disappointed. Camera and Camera + can be used with the iPhone with the lens at the top or the bottom, whereas the Hipstamatic is designed for use with the lens at the top. The picture will rotate so it's not a massive issue (just the app design is upside down) but it's when you come to use the shutter release on the Gizmon case. All it does is turn up the volume not fire the Hipstamatic shutter, a similar issue is found with the Camera FX+ and Retro Camera where the shutter release is on the screen. So one of the cool features of this camera cannot be used on certain iPhone camera apps.
Using Camera+ however and it's quite refreshing to be able to press down on what feels like a decent camera shutter release button when taking a photo, and being able to look through an optical viewfinder would enhance that experience. I say would, as this is the worst viewfinder I've ever looked through. It's plastic but the plastic is blurred so you cant see a clear view. It would have been better if they'd left the plastic lens out of it - there are better viewfinders on cheap single use cameras.
And then when taking photos with your hands in a naturally comfortable and securing grip you obscure the lens. So you have to hold the camera like a beginner with all fingers awkwardly stretched out of the way to avoid lens obstruction.
The lens hole is threaded so an accessory lens such as macro, telephoto or fisheye can be attached. It's a plastic mount so care needs to be taken screwing the lens in. The tripod mount is also plastic so again you need to use with care or you'll strip the thread.
Gizmon iCA Hands-On Photos of Equipment
Value for money
The Gizmon iCA sells for $65, direct from Gizmon
, which with current exchange rates is about £42 at the time of writing. I can't help thinking for a plastic item of this level that's way over the top. If this was a toy it would be somewhere between £5 and £10, and would probably have a battery compartment and flashing lights. I just get the feeling the Leica hook is taking it to a price range it doesn't deserve.
Gizmon iCA Verdict
Having read comments on several gadget sites, everyone is taken back by this casing... even the most credible sites have been charmed by its appearance, and quite rightly... on paper (or screen) it looks magical. Attention to detail is quite something, which is why we score it high for features. But in practice it's far from perfect. It's a fabulous idea, but the lens really needs to be top left so you can hold the camera correctly, and that would mean the buttons to fire some cameras would be on the base, so not practical. Accepting the lens position, the viewfinder needs sorting - blurred is not acceptable.
Gizmon iCA Pros
Convincing camera design (from a distance!)
Shutter button - great for camera apps that use the + button to fire the shutter
Accessory thread for other lenses
Gizmon iCA Cons
Lens easily obscured by hand
Shutter button doesn't fire Hipstamatic
Case easy to break
|VALUE FOR MONEY
Gizmon iCA Specifications
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