Review: Beastgrip – The Universal Photography Rig

Review: Beastgrip – The Universal Photography Rig

Earlier this spring, a video made rounds on the internet, catching the eye of many Apple “fanboys,” showing off a new Bentley. The majority of the video focused on the use of technology – and specifically a pair of iOS devices – that brought mobile computing to the inside of the car. The last 90 (roughly) seconds, showed off how the producer of the video used an iPhone to shoot the commercial, and an iPad to edit.

bentley_iPhone_ad

As soon as I saw some of the cool things being doing in the video, I started investigating just what attachments and lenses were being used, hoping to get my hands on some of the tools to check out first hand. When I discovered that the main rig being used was actually the product of a Kickstarter campaign, and the designer, Vadym Chalenko, lived within 30 miles of me, I reached out to him, and was lucky enough to score a face-to-face walkthrough of his Beastgrip video rig, as well as get a demo of some awesome lenses and adapters that work on the device.

Overview

The Beastgrip ($75 at Beastgrip.com – ships within 2-4 weeks) is, at it’s simplest, a holder for your smartphone that enables you to attach it to a tripod/stabilizer, and mount various lights, mics, lenses, and other various photo or video accessories. Not only does it enable attaching various accessories, but it also allows for a more stable grip on your device while shooting, which makes it great for hand-held shots when shooting video.

Beastgrip-hand-held

Comprised of 58 separate pieces, and hand-assembled here in Chicago, what makes Beastgrip such cool product is how it’s made. The main body of the Beastgrip is created using a small collection of AFINIA 3D printers (much more affordable than mold injection), with filament from a US manufacturer, and almost every other component comes from a US producer as well. During my demo, Vadym told me that aside from the filament needed for the small, colored plastic handles on either end, and the lens mount ring, every other piece is manufactured somewhere in the United States.

Beastgrip-parts

The rig itself is genius and simple. Using aluminum rods, the lens mount and phone bracket can be adjusted up and down and side to side (respectively). The actual phone mount is constructed using a pair of springs that physically clamp down on the side of your device. Because of this, the Beastgrip not only works for iPhones, but for nearly any smartphone – even the Galaxy Note 2 and massive Nokia Lumia 1020.

Throughout my walkthrough, Vadym showed me a huge selection of lenses – telephoto, wide angle, macro, and fisheye – and offers a guide to affordable, high quality lenses (click to see the lenses), which he has personally tested in various situations for image sharpness and quality. Using any lens or filter with a 37mm threading (or step up/down rings as necessary), the various lenses can screw on to the back of the device and dramatically change what your camera is capable of. What was most impressive to me was his ability to use SLR Prime lenses – but not without a catch.

Beastgrip-full-rig

 

To use a prime lens, a depth of field (DOF) adapter is required. Fortunately, being the brilliant designer that he is, Vadym offered a brief explanation of how to construct one for under $100, and even includes instructions (with links to the necessary components) on his Kickstarter page. By creating a DOF adapter, die-hard photographers can gain manual control over focus and zoom without using the devices digital zoom of focus, making their iPhone or other smartphone that much more like a true DSLR camera.

Verdict

While we’ve seen various iPhone lens systems and cases before, Beastgrip is truly in it’s own class. Nearly universal phone support, accessory expandability, and the ability to attach such a huge range of lenses makes Beastgrip a must-have rig for any videographer considering using an iPhone to shoot.

Being made in America is awesome, but using (mostly) American components is truly remarkable, and the passion behind the product is tangible when Vadym explains it. In my 90 minutes of speaking with him, I couldn’t find a single issue that hadn’t been considered when developing the product.

Rating: 5.0/5.0[rating: 5]

Pros:

  • Universal device support
  • Expandable lens options
  • American made
  • Multiple color options
  • Extremely affordable
  • Feels sturdy

Cons:

  • 3D printing is not as strong as mold injecting

Whether you’re an aspiring photographer or videographer, or just looking for a way to mount your phone to a tripod to film your daughters next dance recital, the Beastgrip is an incredible product that is worth checking out!

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