Review: The mCAM LITE Adds A New Layer To iPhone Photography

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If you’ve followed ZAGGblog for a while, you know I’m big into mobile photography. Specifically, I write a lot about apps that can enhance your photos — apps like Snapseed and Camera+, my two big favorites. However, I haven’t covered much about hardware or accessories (with the exception of the Olloclip) available that, when paired with the iPhone, have some tricks up their own sleeve.

Enter: mCAM LITE from a company called Action Life Media. It’s quite a hefty piece of hardware (constructed from a single piece of aluminum), but it really takes iPhone photography to the next level, adding 1/4″-20 threaded mounts (4 of them, actually) for a standard trip, a cold shoe mount for various microphones, lights, strobes, or other attachments, and last but not least, a 37mm wide angle lens. The lens is detachable, and if you separate it from the filter, you get a Macro lens, as well.

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The mCAM LITE adds a fair amount of heft to your iPhone, so it’s probably not something you’ll stick in your pocket every time you head out for a night on the town. However, the added bulk has a distinct advantage: the weight helps you hold your phone more steadily, which results in less blurry images and more stable video footage. You can use the mCAM for both photos and videos.

Speaking of videos — if you’re using the mCAM LITE to record video, you’re in luck: it comes with an external microphone that plugs into your iPhone’s headphone jack. In my tests, the microphone isn’t super cinema quality or anything, but it’ll do better than the iPhone’s built-in microphone for picking up sound a little further away. I haven’t found myself using it for video as much as still photos, so it isn’t a big deal to me. If you plan to do much videography with the mCAM LITE, you might consider purchasing a higher quality microphone. There are several available for this specific purpose on Amazon.

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When it comes to still photos, the mCAM LITE really shines. The 37 mm wide angle lens has a 0.45x magnification factor, so you get a much wider view than your iPhone ever could by itself. That lets you fit in more of the scene in front of you. One caveat you often see with attachable lenses like this is distortion on the outer edges of the frame — so far, I haven’t seem any of that. The image is clear and in focus from edge to edge. If you’re familiar with the Olloclip, you might have seen some of that distortion on the outer edges of your photo.

Here are a few sample images. The photos taken on the left are with the mCAM LITE. The photos on the right were taken with just the iPhone. It’s easy to tell the difference between them. You can click each photo to make it larger.

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The bottom line: the mCAM LITE is a great piece of hardware that enhances the photo and video capabilities of the iPhone. With the price being nearly double that of the Olloclip, I’d be hard pressed to recommend it for everyone, but undoubtedly to the photo buffs out there.

If you want to pick one up for yourself, head over to Action Life Media’s website to order one. They sell for $129.95 and are currently in-stock. They’re available for the iPhone 5/5S, the iPhone 4/4S, and the 5th generation iPod Touch.

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