The iPad Air is a beautifully designed thing. And it’s got a decent camera in it. But I’ve never really used it for filmmaking because holding a tablet by its edges doesn’t feel like holding a camera. It feels like holding a slippery piece of expensive technology that could easily get broken. So I’ve always preferred shooting on an iPhone and then editing on an iPad or Mac.
That was until I bought an iOgrapher. I only ordered it because I needed an iPad case with a tripod mount for a training course, but it’s changed the way I use the iPad.
There are quite a few cases that let you put your iPad on a tripod. But the iOgrapher seems to be the only one with proper handles, and they make all the difference. Now, I can confidently shoot handheld without worrying about dropping the device. Being able to hold it one-handed makes it easier to use the touchscreen for quick adjustments. With the iOgrapher, the iPad now feels like a serious and robust filmmaking tool.
I’m impressed with the design, which is much better than some of the iPad mounts and cases that I’ve seen. The black polycarbonate is light but seems tough enough. Seven plastic tabs grasp the edge of the iPad’s metal body securely, and everything important seems to be reinforced (see the back view above). It holds the iPad slightly recessed, so the screen should be safe when you put it down on a flat surface.
Update (June 2016)
My case has developed a hairline crack from the lens hole to the edge of the lens mount, and the same happened to a friend. It doesn’t seem to affect performance, but iOgrapher mailed a replacement promptly. They assure me that only the iPad Air 1 and 2 case is affected. I’d avoid buying this model at the moment: a redesigned version will be available shortly.
Three ‘cold shoes’ on top let you fit microphones, audio recorders or lights.
On the front is a 37mm lens adapter mount, and there’s a tripod socket on the bottom, both with brass inserts.
The adapter mount lets you fit a wide angle lens converter. Going wide makes for steadier handholding and more dramatic shots, and also makes it easier to work in tight spaces. I already had a Nikon WC-E68 so I used that. (Its thread is bigger than 37mm so I used an inexpensive ‘step up ring’ to mount it.) iOgrapher also sell their own wide and telephoto adapters.
Ergonomically the iOgrapher is great, with the minor exception of the iPad ON button, which is just behind the lens mount (above). I find it tricky to access in a hurry and I don’t have particularly large fingers. Everything else is easy to get at.
Clipping the iPad into the mount is quick. Taking it out is a bit slower, but I find the handles so convenient that I usually leave it in, even when I’m not filming with it.
I’d recommend the iOgrapher to anyone who wants to use an iPad for making films and videos. It’s transformed the way I feel about mine. It’s well-designed, seems robust (apart from the fault mentioned above affecting the Air 1 and 2 model) and it’s good value at $59.99.
The iOgrapher range
iOgrapher also make cases for a variety of other iPads, iPhones (including the 6 Plus), and the iPod Touch. iPhones are pretty easy to handhold anyway, and there are other, cheaper solutions for putting them on tripods. But the iOgrapher would be useful if you want to add microphones or adapter lenses.
They’re working on a case for GoPro action cameras, so you can shoot handheld with a monitor and microphone. I think that’ll be a big hit with filmmakers who want the distinctive GoPro look but with more control. (Of course, you could always put a GoPro and microphone on the cold shoes of the iPad case, and use the iPad as its wireless monitor.)
Where to buy
You can order all the cases direct from the iOgrapher online store, which also sells lenses, microphones and other third-party accessories. They’ll ship overseas within 5-10 days. If you sign up for their mailing list you get a 10% discount on your first order. (For UK purchasers it’s easier to order through Amazon.)
Ethics: I have an affiliate agreement with iOgrapher, but I bought mine through their online shop and I haven’t been paid to review it.