Welcome to MobiTog - The Original Mobile Photography Community!
THE Original Global Community for Mobile Photographers - Everywhere...

You are currently viewing our community forums as a guest user. Sign up or
Having an account grants you additional privileges, such as creating and participating in discussions.

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Gizmon iCA System Review: More than meets the i!

Discussion in 'Accessories & Phones' started by AlyZen Moonshadow, 31 May 2012.

  1. AlyZen Moonshadow

    AlyZen Moonshadow Addicted Mobi Veteran

    Joined:
    5 June 2011
    Messages:
    1,997
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    http://alyzenmoonshadow.tumblr.com/

    Read all about it here!

    I've been lucky enough to receive the Gizmon iCA System from the manufacturers themselves, Adplus of Japan, to review. There are already other reviews written about the System, however I've decided to write mine from a user's, and not a technical, viewpoint.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    So, this is what Adplus sent me: the Gizmon iCA case for iPhone 4S/4 (I received the black and silver version, however there are several other colours available, as well as a limited edition in black called the "military"), 3 lenses in their individual clip-on holders and a leather handstrap. There's also a handy grey drawstring bag in which to stow away the case.

    The iCA case itself is made from polycarbonate and, whilst light, is surprisingly sturdy. The set comes with 2 mock lenses, a thick and a thin one. It took only a few seconds to unscrew the mock lens, unclip the top bit that holds together the two halves of the case, remove the thick foam insert and replace that with my iPhone 4. Less than 5 seconds, actually.

    [​IMG]

    The Gizmon iCA system is unique amongst other iPhone cases, in that it comes with two fully functional buttons that allow control of your iPhone's volume and also acts as as a real camera shutter button. There is also a functional viewfinder. So you can take pictures with your Gizmon iCA System, as well as answer your iPhone!

    [​IMG]

    The thick and thin mock lenses can be used as a mirrored surface for self-portraits.

    At the bottom of the case is an opening where the iPhone's camera lens peeks out. This part, I discovered, is made of metal. A very useful discovery, of which more later! The 3 lenses Adplus provided me with are a Fish Eye lens, a CPL lens and a Mirage lens. The Fish Eye lens needs no introduction. The CPL (which stands for Circular Polarizing Lens) basically cuts out on reflections and fog or smoke, and is useful when photographing lakes and ponds. The Mirage lens has 3 planed surfaces, and gives an image split into 3. Depending on how one twists the lens, the 3 images can be close together, or slightly apart. Each lens can be unclipped from its holder and screwed into the Gizmon iCA System. Incidentally, if you keep the lens in its holder, it will clip easily over an iPhone 4 or 4S, over the camera lens. This is useful to remember, if you've decided to only buy the lenses and not the Gizmon iCA System.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I have the CPL lens permanently screwed onto the camera lens mount on the case. It's early days yet, but I do believe the polarizing lens has allowed me to take pictures that are clearer, by cutting out on reflections and other noise.

    Now, a word about prices. The Gizmon iCA System case can be purchased through the many retailers listed on the official website: http://gizmon.com/shoplist/

    You can also find the Gizmon listed on eBay.

    Prices for the case range from US$25 for the standard black and silver version, whilst the handsome all-black "military" version retails for about US$70. The lenses can be purchased from US$25-35 each. The leather handstrap costs US$25.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The System also comes with a useful tripod stand. This seems to be a universal fit; I've used the tripod of my son Jack's LED mini table torch, and it works a treat. If you have a JOBY Gorillapod with the standard tripod mount that takes DSLRs, that will work too. The tripod stand is fully detachable.

    On either side of the case are lug holes where the handstrap can be attached. I've seen a Gizmon iCA leather case on Four Corner Store, and have sent off for it. That was US$50.

    http://www.fourcornerstore.com/collections/iphone

    The handstrap comes with a steel keyring, which incidentally I found a tad difficult to put on the case, as the lugholes are really tiny. I had to use pliers to open up the keyring spiral, and thread it through the leather bob into the lughole. For those considering a lighter approach, I would suggest using the thin strings that come with lanyards, as they would thread through far easier.

    All week I've been field-testing the Gizmon iCA System. Initially it felt strange to be holding it in my hand, and a bit unwieldy. It still fits in my jacket pocket, but only with the thin mock lens on (not the thick one)...so for those of you contemplating stashing this in your back pocket, I would recommend using the thin mock lens and saving the thick mock lens for show only. On my daily train commute to work, I've noticed the looks that the Gizmon gets, mainly quizzical ones, and quite a few raised eyebrows when my iPhone rings and I hold this retro-looking rangefinder camera to my ear! Colleagues at work ask me if it's a camera or just a case, and I have to explain to them that it's more than just a case, but not a camera as such, although it has functional buttons that control the volume and the camera shutter.

    The Gizmon iCA System offers a range of lenses, including the 3 already mentioned above, but also a Macro lens, Tunnel effector, Tele lens and Wide lens. At the time of writing this Review, these 4 other lenses are currently unavailable, but I've been told it's only a matter of time before they become available for purchase. This link below shows the wide range of accessories planned for the System:

    http://gizmon.com/gizmon-ica/#Details

    When all the accessories become available, I believe the Gizmon iCA System will be the most comprehensive amongst the plethora of other case covers out there in the market. What excites me about the lens mount on the System, is the fact that it is magnetic ... and any of the magnetic iPhone lenses available online will fit in it. I've tried a generic Macro lens bought on eBay in the mount, and although it is marginally smaller than the Gizmon lenses, it works a treat. I've ordered a generic Telescopic lens for the iPhone, and can't wait to try that out on the System!

    I would recommend the Gizmon iCA System for those who want something a bit retro, with good looks harking back to the rangefinders of old, something quirky that combines form and function beautifully. Apple has a habit of changing the design of its iPhones drastically every couple of generations, and I would be interested to find out how Gizmon adapts its next generation of the System to fit the iPhone 5? But for now, I'm loving the Gizmon!

    AlyZen Moonshadow
    31st May 2012
  2. lisamjw

    lisamjw Pretty & Sneaky... Site Staff

    Joined:
    22 June 2011
    Messages:
    18,330
    Likes Received:
    16,267
    Location:
    Texas (USA)
    Real Name:
    Lisa Waddell
    Great review!! I would definitely look into buying one but, at this point, will wait to see how things shake out when iPhone 5 arrives. Thanks for sharing.

    Sent from my iPhone using MobiTog
  3. Chris / interealtime

    Chris / interealtime The NightCapper... Developer

    Joined:
    7 May 2012
    Messages:
    429
    Likes Received:
    837
    Real Name:
    Chris
    Great review indeed! I think this system has some really good ideas, but a few flaws (and I'm sure I saw exactly this case when I was in hong kong a while back - didn't realise it allowed lenses to be added though, what with the description being in chinese :))

    The good parts: The lenses. Having a case with swappable lenses is very wise, for when you change the case itself (more on that soon). Magnetic attachment sounds like a great idea too. Also the shutter button.. kind of.

    The bad parts: The design. Some will love it, others won't. Hopefully they'll offer cases without the big fake lens, if they don't already. Also, I recommend avoiding anything with hard plastic on the inside. If even tiny specs of dust get inside, they can rub against the phone and damage the glass + metal (my 4 had 'polished' bits round the corners and a few pits in the glass on the back from this - been using a case with a soft lining with the 4S and it's still pristine).

    There's also the issue that if you get an iPhone 5 you'll probably have to replace the case. Still, this is a big improvement on the olloclip (which I have), which will likely be totally obsolete. I think apple should add a few magnets inside the phone to support lenses directly :)

    And.. the volume button. Unfortunately apple are forcing developers to remove the volume shutter control feature from apps, so that might end up mostly redundant :( Don't get me started on this, I get angry ;)

    Still, I hope this idea catches on. What we really need is a standardised lens format that will work with different cases. I really hope apple do that too :)
  4. Aaron Davis

    Aaron Davis Addicted Mobi Veteran

    Joined:
    21 June 2011
    Messages:
    2,634
    Likes Received:
    3,637
    Location:
    Cairns, Queensland, Australia
    Great review AlyZen. The CPL lens really sparked my interest because I've been looking for a polarizing filter for my phone. These filters are great for taking away unwanted reflections.
    I'd really like to see how well this particular filter does this, the examples on the website could be better. :)
    AlyZen Moonshadow likes this.
  5. AlyZen Moonshadow

    AlyZen Moonshadow Addicted Mobi Veteran

    Joined:
    5 June 2011
    Messages:
    1,997
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    Thanks for your input, Chris. I did some research on eBay and other sites - the price does seem to range from $25-65 for the case. I asked Adplus about this, they said beware of imitations. Which goes to show that anything worth copying WILL be copied - just look at the number of fake Olloclips available at a fraction of the price! These Chinese/Ali Babas are extremely good at reverse engineering!!

    The Gizmon is meant to resemble a rangefinder camera, so it comes with 2 mock lenses - a thin one (that'll allow you to fit the entire getup in yor back pocket), and a thick one (that won't, as it adds an extra 1cm to the thickness).

    Any iPhone case design has to contend with a limited shelf life, as all mobile phones change with each new roll-out. The Olloclip and Gizmon will have to maybe think of a design that is adaptable ... Maybe expandable or flexible enough to fit more than one size or shape? Time will tell if these two gadgets become obsolete.

    I'm no techie, so I don't know how the Gizmon gets the volume button to control the camera shutter? The volume control is obvious enough, one button for Up and the other for Down. But to control the camera shutter? Anyone know the answer? :)
  6. AlyZen Moonshadow

    AlyZen Moonshadow Addicted Mobi Veteran

    Joined:
    5 June 2011
    Messages:
    1,997
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    Hi Aaron, great to hear from you. I haven't really tested the CPL lens against the iPhone's native lens. That's because I have the CPL lens permanently screwed to my Gizmon and I always seem to forget to take it off and shoot a similar "naked" photo for comparison.

    Here is an image shot using the CPL lens (albeit I've processed it using other Apps too). But you can see there's hardly any water or sun reflections in the image. It was a hot and sunny day, and the fish were active.

    image-2257854926.jpg
    RoseCat, Delta, Aaron Davis and 2 others like this.
  7. mahoganyturtle

    mahoganyturtle MobiTog iOTY 2012 Mobi Veteran

    Joined:
    19 January 2012
    Messages:
    2,263
    Likes Received:
    3,882
    Real Name:
    mel
    Beautiful photo Aly!
    AlyZen Moonshadow likes this.
  8. Aaron Davis

    Aaron Davis Addicted Mobi Veteran

    Joined:
    21 June 2011
    Messages:
    2,634
    Likes Received:
    3,637
    Location:
    Cairns, Queensland, Australia
    Is it like normal polarizers, where you rotate the lens to either reduce or increase reflections? Great shot by the way. :)
  9. AlyZen Moonshadow

    AlyZen Moonshadow Addicted Mobi Veteran

    Joined:
    5 June 2011
    Messages:
    1,997
    Likes Received:
    1,689
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    Well yes, it does rotate. I can't see though how rotating a lens could affect the degree of reflections, as it appears to be a flat lens? If it had angles, I'd understand, but this lens is flat? But it does appear to work the way you suggest. :) Magic!!
  10. Chris / interealtime

    Chris / interealtime The NightCapper... Developer

    Joined:
    7 May 2012
    Messages:
    429
    Likes Received:
    837
    Real Name:
    Chris
    The 'magic' is that light can have a 'rotation'. It can be horizontal, vertical, or anything in-between. What a polarising filter does is only let one polarity (rotation of light) though. Normally light comes in a random mix of directions, so all a polarising filter does is cut out a little light, but when you get a reflection on a flat surface the reflected light tends to have just one polarity - and therefore a polarising filter can either block it or let it though. You can rotate the filter to control it, so yes rotating a 'flat lens' can alter affect the rotations :)
  11. Aaron Davis

    Aaron Davis Addicted Mobi Veteran

    Joined:
    21 June 2011
    Messages:
    2,634
    Likes Received:
    3,637
    Location:
    Cairns, Queensland, Australia
    I always love your techy comments, you have a gift at explaining concepts quite simply.

Share This Page