Provides: iPhone protection and horizontal photography reflex viewer
Developer: RHP Multimedia Corp.
Once upon a time, most consumer cameras—such as the once–ubiquitous Kodak Brownie—had reflex viewfinders. That is, a viewfinder with which you look downward at a mirrored image to compose your picture. The downside, so to speak, was that the image you saw was rendered upside down. That aspect wasn’t considered radical, since the big view cameras used by professionals in those days also rendered upside down focusing images on a ground glass screen covering the focal plane.
Then in the late 1920s, high-end German camera maker Franke & Heidecke (now DHW Fototechnik) introduced the Rolleiflex twin lens reflex (TLR) camera design, thereby revitalizing professional photography with what were then considered “minicams,” compared with the 4″ x 5″ negative format or even larger standard of the day. You still looked downward at a reflected image to frame and focus a TLR, but the combination of using on a mirror a through-the-lens image projecting onto the back of a parent glass optical screen corrected 2 right side up, although still reversed left to right. However, after you got used to that, the 2-dimensional preview rendered at the actual size of the 2-1/4″ x 2-1/4″ (6 x 6 centimeter) 120 roll film negative or transparency was great.
I cut my proverbial teeth on twin lens reflexes back in the 1970s, first with Japanese Yashica Rollei clones, which were actually pretty good. Later I made my living as a wedding and portrait photographer using primarily a Rolleicord TLR. I still find looking downward at the focus image a lot more natural-feeling than peering through a viewfinder or looking at a vertical-orientation display image on the backside of a digital point-and-shoot camera, or using a single lens reflex. For one thing, it’s a lot more subtle than “camera face” or ”phone face” and ideal for candid photography.
Consequently, I’m delighted with RHP Multimedia’s new MirrorCase for the iPhone 4 and 4S, which turns the smartphone’s camera into a reflex-focuser that lets you compose your shots with the device held in a horizontal rather than vertical orientation. The MirrorCase also facilitates recording lectures or interviews, leaving your hands free for notetaking, for instance. And thanks to the magic of microprocessing and a free support app, your on-screen preview image is rendered right-side-up and corrected for left to right.
It’s an elegantly simple concept, and I’m surprised that no one (at least that I know of) came up with it earlier. The MirrorCase consists of 2 injection-molded plastic pieces; the main module with the reflex mirror that the iPhone’s camera will “see” through, and a slide-on bottom that secures the phone in the case. All but the extreme rim of the iPhone’s component pieces incorporate rubbery-texture contact panels that hold the iPhone in place, and also make iPhone insertion and removal virtually instant. The case’s outer surfaces are coated with a soft-touch textured material for a more secure user grip, and the MirrorCase’s shape also doubles as a shoulder rest for hands-free phone use, helping to prevent the iPhone from slipping off of your shoulder. There are apertures in the case’s front/top for access to the iPhone’s controls, and likewise in the bottom cap for the 30-pin Apple (pre–lightning) connector cable.
The MirrorCase support app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store for image orientation correction and other functions, such as being able to simply swipe your finger across the screen to make whatever image you have pre-selected appear in place of the current camera view, with the user interface still accessible. Swipe back to see the live view of the image on your screen. Note that the app, which supports high OS 4.3 or later, does crop the recorded image a bit, presumably to avoid having the mirror show. Incidentally, besides the reflex camera viewer function, MirrorCase also redirects the flash for your iPhone forward for a more comfortable flashlight in conjunction with any flashlight app.
It would be difficult for me to exaggerate how cool I think this little case is. I love reflex viewfinders, and the added bonus of image orientation correction is icing on the proverbial cake.
I am also impressed with the standard of finish and evident quality of materials, and the MirrorCase has a quality look and feel. The only partial shortcoming I can think of is that the case’s reflex mirror is exposed to the elements, although it’s recessed enough to be reasonably shielded from impact and abrasion, but not from dust or water droplets. Having the mirror in an open aperture eliminates the dust-gathering and optical compromise of your image passing through another transparant surface, and RHP Multimedia says the mirror can be cleaned with a Q–tip.
That note of caution notwithstanding, I’m giving the MirrorCase for iPhone 4/4S a full 5 out of 5 rating, and I can hardly wait for the iPad version that’s promised for release soon.
Buy the MirrorCase for iPhone 4/4S