Ever since the iPad 2 got the front and rear-facing cameras that were missing in the original iPad, something of a meme has developed that nobody who valued their cool would actually use the rear-facing camera for fear of looking hopelessly dorky. And users who refrained from using the iPad 2′s two megapixel camera weren’t actually missing out on a whole lot, photographically speaking.
That said, I have found the camera in my iPad 2 more useful than I had expected it to be, and it’s been used to capture moments and memories that otherwise would’ve gone unrecorded. If I’ve looked like a dork while using it to take those shots, too bad. Who decides this stuff anyway?
I grew up in the era when the hulking Graflex Speed Graphic was in the last stages of being supplanted as the dominant portable press and professional camera by first the 6×6 cm roll film twin lens reflex that was typified by the German Rolleiflex (still available at B&H Camera for a suck-in-your-breath $5,339) and Rolleicord, and later by the 35mm single lens reflex.
Some of the best and most memorable photographic images from the 1930s through the end of the 1950s were taken with those big Graflexes, which were produced from 1912 to 1973, even though in terms of bulk and heft they make an iPad look like a miniature camera. (For Speed Graphic photo and info, visit graflex.org.)
However, by the standard being implied regarding iPad photography, all those intrepid Graflex-wielding news, wedding, portrait, product, documentary, advertising and landscape photogs. of the 1920s, ’30s, ‘ 40s, and ’50s must have looked like dorks.
I never used a Speed Graphic, but during my career as a wedding and portrait photographer in the 1970s and ’80s, my favorite tool of my trade was the big (by today’s standards) twin lens reflex. Consequently, I’m disinclined to defer to the tyranny of pop-cultural notion that using my iPad to snap photos looks uncool. Even more so that the third and fourth generation iPads and iPad mini all have decent-quality cameras.
However, there will soon be a way to use your iPad as a camera less obtrusively. For me, the greatest virtue of the twin lens reflex camera was that instead of peering through a viewfinder, you focused on a mirror image of what the upper lens saw, projected on a groundglass screen at the top of the camera body the full size of the 6×6 cm negative or transparency. A major advertising point for TLRs was that this was a lot more subtle than holding a camera up in front of your face, making candid photography easier. The downside was that because it was a mirror image literally on the groundglass, it was reversed left to right. You got used to it, but it was daunting for newbies.
I was pleased and delighted that Adobe paid homage to the TLR (in that instance, a Mamiya) in the center of the splashscreen of Photoshop Elements 11.
Similarly designed to eliminate “Phone Face,” a new product called “MirrorCase” lets you hold your iPad (there’s also an iPhone model that’s already available) at a more relaxed horizontal angle while you take pictures and/or video. The MirrorCase utilizes a high quality mirror to reflect back any image that is in front of the device, so you can still see the action in front of you while you record. Using the free MirrorCase app, photos are automatically flipped and inverted to be right side up and then saved to the camera roll.
The MirrorCase is constructed using a plastic injection molding process to create a sturdy shell with a comfortable soft touch finish to protect the iPad, but arguably its most intriguing feature is its facilitation of capturing photos and video while using the iPad in a horizontal position, which makes it suitable, for example, for recording long lectures or meetings. With the recording function turned on, you don’t have to rush to scribble down notes.
How the MirrorCase Works
The raised end contains a high quality mirror for redirecting the scene into the lens of the iPad’s back mounted camera. The mirror can be adjusted for the perfect angle by scrolling the thumb wheel located behind the mirror.
The mirror in the front of the case reflects the scene into the iPad camera lens. This allows horizontal operation of the camera while recording or taking photos. The mirror and mechanics are protected with a clear cover to avoid dust, debris and allow easy cleaning
Depending on the placement of your device, you may need to adjust the view, for which you use the adjustable Thumb Wheel to get the right angle. This function with the kickstand allows for various viewing angles.
The MirrorCase app corrects the reflected image and eliminates that old TLR preview image shortcoming.
Horizontal slots on the exterior of the cover support another feature of the case, the rear kickstand. The kickstand lets you select different positions for various screen angles.
MirrorCase for iPad is also engineered with an Acoustic Port. This feature redirects sound from the speaker, located on the back of the iPad, towards the user, thereby improving sound quality. Below the Acoustic Port is a storage compartment where you can stow away your stylus, pen or pencil.
Combined with the 3rd or 4th generation iPad camera system, MirrorCase transforms the iPad into an ideal image capturing device without any danger to the user’s image, enhancing the useful value of the device.
The MirrorCase and app for iPad are coming soon, and is available for preorder at $79.95. As noted, MirrorCase for iPhone is available now for $49.95.
Product [MirrorCase for iPad]