By Graham K. Rogers
In early 2012 when the camera in the iPhone 4 had begun to improve to a respectable level, I looked around for ways to connect the phone I had then to a tripod. I had some reasonable Slo-Mo software and other software for special output, and I had not long before taken delivery of the first olloclip lenses. There were several tripod solutions, some requiring cases (precluding the olloclip) and other forms of attachment, but I settled on the simple design of the Glif tripod mount from Studio Neat.
The design of such an accessory is limited by the smooth exterior of a smartphone. The original Glif used a slot system. A corner and one side fitted snugly into the Glif and it was simple to attach this to a standard tripod. I also bought a mini tripod for classroom use. The original Glif, like the olloclip was designed specifically for the iPhone 4, but it also fitted the identical case of the iPhone 4S. When the iPhone 5 arrived, the lenses and mount needed to be redesigned.
The second iteration of the Glif was adjustable so there was no built-in redundancy, and it worked with handsets from other manufacturers. I was able to use this with an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, even with covers.
Adjustments were made to the jaws using a Hex key that was inserted into the screw fitting used to attach the Glif to a tripod. This, along with the relative softness of the material used was a weak spot as, with extended use, the screw fitting began to pull out if its housing, leading to slight instability (and a loss of confidence).
This appears to have been fully addressed in the latest version of the Glif Tripod Mount that arrived in my mailbox this week. The Glif was in a box made of recycled paper and sat in a foam surround. The overall design retains the usual approach, with the two parts of the jaw designed to grip the sides of the phone.
A close look at the jaws shows the use of two materials: the hard outer construct of plastic; and a softer rubber-like composite material that comes into contact with the phone. This softer material allows a firm grip without any untoward pressure on the side of the phone.
Unlike the screw adjustment, the new design has a locking lever on the back that snaps into a purpose-made stud on the body. When the lever is released, the jaws can be expanded outwards, but are gently pulled back to the initial size by an internal spring. This pull also helps when attaching the Glif to a phone as the fit is certain, before the lever is locked, adding to the safety.
With the redesign there are now three tripod mount screws: one at either end for landscape photographs; and another in the middle intended to position the device for portrait mode. With the extra mounts, it is possible to attach other accessories, for example a microphone.
Glif Tripod Mount with iPhone SE in its case
In the couple of days since this was delivered, I have tried on iPhone 6, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone SE. All but the iPhone 7 Plus had cases. The locking lever has made it quick and easy to attach (or detach) this to a phone, with none of the slowness of the previous hex key approach.
The Studio Neat Glif Tripod Mount is not expensive at $28 (+ $11 for mailing). The transaction price was converted to 1383 baht. There is also a wooden handgrip and a wrist strap, bringing the price to $55. That also includes a screw-in ring (which I already have) that allows the tripod mount to be suspended from a suitable cable.
In the past I have used the Glif for timer shots, video, slo-mo, and time-lapse photography. The stability that the tripod provides is necessary for this and the Glif is an essential link to enable an iPhone to be mounted securely. The result of this latest release of the Glif Tripod Mount is a convenient, lightweight device that shows consideration of function and design.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)