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A Halloweeks Prize: the mCAMLITE

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Our month-long Halloweeks contest has been well-received by the community — even more so as we ramp up the prizes each week. We’ve saved a few of the best prizes for last, and that includes a prize for this week: the very unique iPhoneography-oriented mCAMLITE. The mCAMLITE holds your iPhone, but it’s not exactly an iPhone case. The best way to describe it is that it’s bit like a camera body for an iPhone.

I contacted the company that makes it, Action Life Media, to see if they wanted to sponsor our photo contest and donate an mCAMLITE to a lucky winner in the Pixlr community. They said yes! That’s not totally surprising since they are all about mobile photography. They’re a good fit with the Pixlr community. They sent one to me, and I’ve been trying it out in the Instructables Lab where our office is located on Pier 9 in San Francisco — a great excuse to take photos of this beautiful city. Right outside our window.

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The mCAMLITE unboxed

The first thing I noticed when unboxing the mCAMLITE is that it’s solid. It’s a singular piece of aluminum that has a polished feel to it but that is clearly super strong. I didn’t hurl it across the room to see just how strong it was, but I can’t imagine putting a dent in this thing without using some industrial tools. It’s not designed to be lightweight, which I think is one of its strengths. It’s designed to be durable.

It comes with a silicone sleeve that you wrap your iPhone in before inserting it into the device itself. Obviously, this protects your iPhone, but more importantly it provides a snug fit so your iPhone won’t slide out. In fact, I was a little afraid my iPhone wouldn’t fit the first time I tried it, but it quickly becomes clear that it’s supposed to be that snug. I would be very confident to take this out on a day trip or do something athletic with it. It actually feels like a solid-body camera in my hand.

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It also comes with a combination lens. To be perfectly frank, I’m not sure I need lenses, but I did get some interesting photos out of it. I’m using the brand-new iPhone 5S, which has an even better camera than the still-quite-impressive earlier versions. The lens that comes with it is actually two lenses in one — a wide angle and a macro lens that you can switch out. The wide angle gave me a slight fish-eye effect, which I actually like, but it’s not technically a fish-eye lens. Of the two lenses, the macro worked better for me. They offer other lenses, but if you’re really serious about using multiple lenses you might be better off buying an adapter for Nikon or Canon lenses (which they also offer). The one downside to using the provided lens with my phone is that the new iPhone 5S has a really (really) strong flash right next to the iPhone’s lens, which can sometimes result in lens flare in your photos. Of course, you could always use an external flash in situations like this. All in all, I got a few neat effects from the lenses, so I’d probably use them some of the time.

Probably the most useful thing about the mCAMLITE are the many camera mounts. Joby makes a neat GorillaPod device for stabilizing your smartphone (we gave one away last week in the contest), but there aren’t a lot of other ways to get your iPhone to plug in to a tripod in an easy and useful way. This does that, and it does it quite well. Plenty of options if you have a tripod. I tried it out with the old standard Joby GorillaPod, and it worked great.

It also contains a cold-shoe mount, which I didn’t use, but this would surely be useful for any pro photographer who needs it. And it comes with a small microphone that plugs into the audio jack that juts out to capture audio from the front of the device. While this is a neat idea, it’s clearly geared toward filming video, which isn’t something I’m focused on. I’m all about photos. If you’re into video, you may want to check out some of the video-friendly accessories they offer.

All in all, the mCAMLITE is appealing if you’ve ever wished your iPhone could sometimes feel like a dSLR. It also probably would work for you if you intend to be out hiking in the wilds and want to just toss your iPhone in a bag and not worry about it getting squashed. While it’s sort of geared toward more professional photo takers, I bet it would be a good gift for an amateur photographer or outdoors-y photo taker who likes the idea of a very durable case and multiple tripod options.

Want to win this mCAMLITE? Enter our Halloweeks contest by Sunday at midnight for your chance. Entering is as easy as tagging your photo #halloweeks on popular social-media sites. Check out our contest site for all the info.

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— Eric Suesz, Pixlr community manager

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