Provides: Camera mount/cage for iPad
Developer: The Padcaster
Minimum Requirements: iPad with camera (iPad 2 or greater, iPad mini not supported)
Why are photos of people using their iPad to take photos funny? My guess is that it’s because the iPad is bigger than a smartphone, and flatter than an DSLR. Somewhere in its lizard brain, the Interwebs just can’t make an iPad fit as a camera, though of course it’s a mobile movie studio: camera, audio, editing, and distribution. And with its new HD cameras, the latest iPad is a serious device for shooting video and photos. And now pros and amateurs can secure that rig to a camera mount with The Padcaster.
The Padcaster consists of two pieces: an aluminum frame and a urethane insert. The frame, which can be attached to a standard tripod/monopod mount, is also threaded with 1/4-20 and 3/8-16 holes, allowing you to mount additional gear like microphones, lights, or whatever gear you use to do recording. Since all the screws and mounts are standard, you could even use the Padcaster frame as a cage for a DSLR camera.
The urethane insert, which fits snugly and securely into the frame, holds the iPad. Two holes are cut into it so that you can use the iPad’s back-facing camera in either position. You can also snake a power cable in from either side (through the aluminum frame and the insert, though, and that’s a little tricky), and the iPad’s power button is accessible with a little effort as well.
And that’s the nut of it, really; the included bolt holds the frame securely to the camera mount, and the insert secures the iPad. The urethane is removable with some effort, but was fitted so firmly that I was never worried about the iPad popping out even during a fast pan.
I used a tripod during my tests with the Padcaster, but as the maker points out, you could just as easily use it with a collapsible monopod, giving you stability and the power to mount additional recording gear with an amazing amount of portability. Shoot, edit, and upload HD video from the field, without having to try to get a steady shot with two hands.
The iPad, of course, lacks the depth of field control of a traditional camera lens, but Padcaster has an answer for that—for an additional $50 you can get the Lenscaster, which is a bracket with a 72mm thread cut into it that mounts on the frame over the camera hole. But you can’t just attach a lens to the Lenscaster, since camera makers use proprietary mounts for their cameras. The maker of the Padcaster, though, has created a PDF detailing how to use a Depth of Field adjuster (and where to get one) so that if you need that level of control over your image, you can. Since I didn’t have access to that gear, though, I couldn’t test the Lenscaster attachment.
Regardless, The Padcaster itself is an extremely useful attachment for those who need to shoot steady video with their iPad: mobile newscasts, podcasts, or grab-and-go guerrilla shoots. Because while the iPad may not look like a camera, the benefit of that is two people with a monopod and an iPad could be more inconspicuous than two people with a video camera and a tripod. And since its made of aluminum and urethane, the Padcaster still fits conveniently into a backpack.
The iPad is an amazing tool for shooting photos and video. It’s not a case, it’s not a fashion statement, it’s a tool, a piece of pro-level gear. And for the people who recognize that, the Padcaster is an equally amazing, though simple way for them to use it for video production.
Buy The Padcaster