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5 Reasons the iPhone is Your Ultimate DSLR Companion

So you have your new DSLR and you’re ready to get out into the field and start shooting some shallow depth-of-field awesomeness. The only thing is, all your money went towards the new camera body, and you don’t have much left over to splurge on accessories. What are you to do? One solution, if you’re one of the 175 million or so people who own one, is Apple’s iPhone. Yes, the iPhone. We all know it has a few handy features, but I’ll bet you didn’t know it can almost rid you of the need to hire additional crew on a production. Read on if you’re intrigued by how to turn your iPhone into a DSLR style Swiss army knife.

1. DSLR Slate

A quick visit to the app store and you’ll have your very own scene slate for $9.99. DSLR Slate is a nice little app that gives you all the traditional benefits of a scene slate, such as scene, take, frame rate, etc. In addition, you’re given a few other handy DSLR extras like ISO, sperature, shutter, white balance, and more. This is something you could have your script supervisor or 2nd camera use if you wanted to save money from buying a real slate. Or if you’re feeling squirly,  you can reach your arm out from behind the lens and give it a mark yourself.

2. iPhone Hot Shoe Holder

If you don’t feel like dropping a couple hundred bucks for an on-camera light, take a look at the iPhone Hot Shoe Holder. For $30 (including shipping) you can mount your iPhone to your DSLR’s shoe mount, and use it as either an on-camera light, a level, or even a teleprompter! I wouldn’t recommend the teleprompter idea unless your talent is within a couple feet from the camera. Otherwise they may need a telescope to be able to read their lines. However, if you’re a video blogger and don’t feel comfortable narrating off the cuff, this could be perfect for you.

3. Setkick

Setkick is a new company that’s redefined the way producers and directors organize their work lives. They’ve created an online production planning tool that helps crew effectively manage each stage of the production process. Document creation may be better left done on a computer. However, they are mobile friendly. What this means is that while on a shoot, you can have any and all documents related to that job ready within a click. Anything from call sheets, to storyboards, Setkick is a genius platform “built by filmmakers, for filmmakers.” Visit them at www.setkick.com.

4. iTalk Recorder

If you’re in DSLR video production, you’ve more than likely heard people buzzing about the Zoom H4N. It’s a great little recorder that has become a standard in audio capturing for us DSLR folk. It runs for at least $199. For 99% cheaper, you can download iTalk Recorder from the App Store for $1.99 (Look at that, it’s actually 99% cheaper). XLR inputs? No. Can it record to an SD card? No. But what you can do is record at 44.10 kHz sample rates, e-mail your recordings from your iPhone or share via Dropbox, and cancel out noise automatically. I obviously wouln’t recommend this as a replacement to a wireless microphone, but if you’re in a jam, it could save your butt. I first heard about this from Lee Morris over at Fstoppers. You can see his video review of it here.

5. iPhone SLR Mount

Need a second angle on your interview?  Bust this bad boy out: the iPhone SLR Mount from Photojojo. This will definitely make a few heads turn. For $249 you can actually attach an SLR lens onto your iPhone. Seriously how crazy is that? Vid-Atlantic also makes one for a little cheaper. I personally haven’t used either, but now with the iPhone 4s’ improved camera lens, you could seriously consider using this as a B-cam. Some apps like Filmic Pro will let you set your exposure, lock focus, and even record at 24 fps.

I tried finding some legit footage of people using this in a professional environment, but all I saw were videos of plants and doorknobs. Nothing under a real lighting setup or anything. I’d be curious as to how this would stand up when cut together with some DSLR footage.

You sure can stretch a production budget these days, and it’s getting easier and easier for the DIYer to put together a rig. Are there other, more useful ways you have used the iPhone as a DSLR companion?