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Mounting Your iPad for Photography

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When you're using an iPad as a photographic companion, handling it (plus your camera) can be awkward. Photo expert Jeff Carlson, author of Canon PowerShot G10/G11: From Snapshots to Great Shots, looks at several methods of mounting an iPad on tripods, lighting stands, and desks.
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In my book The iPad for Photographers, Second Edition, I share the many ways an iPad can help shooters better preview their shots while in the field or in the studio. But one catch is handling the iPad: Sure, it’s easy to hold normally, but what about when your hands are busy with your camera gear? I’ve become adept at finding flat-ish rocks and surfaces to ensure that my iPad doesn’t accidentally tumble into a creek or onto the ground. Similarly, in the studio you may want more than just a tabletop for keeping the iPad steady.

If you’re in a position where you can set up a tripod or lighting stand, the Tether Tools Wallee System is extremely versatile. The “system” is actually two pieces: a plastic shell case ($39.95) that mounts on the back of an iPad 2 or later (a case for the iPad mini is also available), and the Connect ($79.95), a sturdy base that locks into the case and includes threads that fit tripods, heads, and stands. The shell also lets you use the iPad on a wide range of other Tether Tools stands as well (see Figure 1).

A less expensive option is the Grifiti Nootle iPad Tripod Mount ($20), as shown in Figure 2. The case attaches to the back of an iPad 2 or third- or fourth-generation iPad (iPad mini model also available), and includes a 1/4 20 screw head for attaching tripods or ball heads. Grifiti also sells the case bundled with their own mini- and medium-sized ball heads ($30 and $40), as well as with a full tripod ($125). This option is good if you already have a lightweight tripod or something like a flexible GorillaPod that works with that size of thread.

For tabletop (or rock-top, depending on locale), I’ve long used The Stump ($25), a little angled piece of heavy material covered in rubber with a notch that holds the iPad at an angle. It’s inexpensive and unobtrusive (see Figure 3).

Lately I’ve also been using the FrameShift iPad stand ($99) from Insanely Great Products (see Figure 4). This sturdy aluminum stand can be positioned at nearly any angle, and folds flat when you need it to be out of the way or packed into a bag.

These options are, of course, just a small sampling of iPad cases, mounts, and stands that are used by photographers. I’ve often relied on the flat top of my photography bag (a Think Tank Retrospective) to hold the iPad, but I feel better when the iPad has something more secure keeping it in place while I’m shooting.

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