Limelens Smartphone Lens Review: Looking Anew

Limelens Smartphone Lens Review: Looking Anew

Oct 15, 2016

The truth of the matter is that our smartphones aren’t becoming converged devices; they’re already there. GPS, computing, casting… heck, flashlight and measuring tool. The unique uses are becoming more ubiquitous by the day.

Taking pictures is a major one. Look at the image wars… every smartphone iteration packs bigger and better image capturing hardware and software. In my case, I found I hadn’t charged my relatively expensive camera in months. Not the camera’s fault, really; my smartphone camera is fine, it’s always with me, always (just about) charged and has better sharing tools to boot.

Then, when you toss in some cool accessories like the Limelens Smartphone Lenses, you get a chance to really take snaps that set them apart.

The review packet reflects the tidy retail manifestation: a zip-up lime green and (mostly) black carry case, two lenses, three clip/holders, stickers, cleaning paraphernalia and documentation/instructions. The lenses included were The Thinker – Dual Macro / Wide Lens and The Captain – Supreme Fisheye Lens.

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Now, the trick is to get the clip in place, and this depends on the particular device’s camera’s orientation; Limelens’ documentation and site provide instructions. With the clip adhered to the device, one can get one of the lenses and slide it in.

Then it’s time to have fun.

The pictures do get exhibit the expected effects.

One cool aspect to the whole setup is the expansibility. Limelens compiles a list of compatible hardware… stuff like cases that work with the solution. After the initial play with the lens, I decided to try the setup with a case listed on the Limelens website made by Amzer. The placement of the Limeclip mirrored that of the case-less device, and with a little prep, I had, in essence, a semi-permanent Limelens accessory.

All in all, I really came to enjoy the add-ons. They are practical, easy to setup, and fun. They won’t replace high-powered dedicated image hardware, but they aren’t really designed to.

D-Link Full HD Ultra-Wide View Wi-Fi Camera Hardware Review

D-Link Full HD Ultra-Wide View Wi-Fi Camera Hardware Review

Dec 15, 2015

When it comes to developing professional grade electronics for “regular” consumers, few have the reputation of D-Link. Indeed, we’ve had the pleasure of checking out it’s Pan & Tilt Camera a while back.

Now, with its new Ultra-Wide View Camera, we get another take on consumer-facing surveillance and observation solutions, albeit with similar mobile management capabilities.

It’s relatively slick looking, mostly sheathed in hard black plastic. It utilizes a stand attached to the main lens frame; it is designed in such away that the camera can be swiveled upwards and downwards to customize the view. The core hardware assembly is quite subtle, officially coming in at 3.37 x 3.37 x 5.53 inches and 0.76 lbs.

On the main frame, there are slots for Micro-USB cable and micro-SD card, the latter gives a great idea of the extensibility of the product with regards to data accumulation.

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The retail box also contains documentation, mounting screws and a power cable. In hand, the camera has a solid feel, is flexible but seemingly well fused.

Getting it going is a simple matter of plugging it in using the supplied cord; the use of micro-USB standard is a nice touch worth underscoring. When plugged in a series of red LED lights come on around the frame; these serve as a visual reference point, there’s an orange-ish one on the back as well. At this point, one gets to incorporate the connected software option (one needs a solid internet connection; on Google Play, there is the companion mydlink Lite application, and this is used to finish the setup.

In practice, the setup was a bit stubborn, but it got to working after some dedicating prompting. The fixed feed can be picked up on one’s device live, or on a computer via one’s account at mydlink.com. The feed can be manipulated and/or saved to SD card, and event notifications can be set up for sound and/or motion.

The system works well together; the ability to access it via mobile or computer is exceptional. It’s fixed nature might give one pause but the adjustable frame and other aspects make up for a pretty good observation tool.

D-Link Pan & Tilt Wi-Fi Camera Hardware Review

D-Link Pan & Tilt Wi-Fi Camera Hardware Review

Feb 20, 2015

When it comes to a secure home, why no pull out all the stops? Connected cameras are a big part of home safety options, and devices made by D-Link — a company that can actually afford to name drop — are especially interesting. As such, we were eager to check out the D-Link Pan & Tilt Wi-Fi Camera.

The review unit D-Link sent us came in retail packaging; in the box, one gets the camera itself, a mounting bracket, ethernet cable, power cable, mounting paraphernalia and documentation. The camera itself is mostly white with black accents. Standing right-side up, it looks like a short lighthouse with a matching white antenna out the back. Dimensions-wise, it is 5.26 x 4.03 x 3.99 inches, and weighs 0.64 lbs.

The main unit has input slots for power and ethernet on the bottom back, as well as a WPS button and reset pinhole. On the front of the bottom there are two LEDs to signify power and WPS status. The unit also has embedded microphone, and advertises different video resolutions.

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Setting it up involves a computer (Mac or Windows), and downloading the installer and following the instructions. As the contents suggest, the camera can be set up in wired or wireless fashion, and the desktop utility helps to accomplish this. As soon as the wireless setup is complete, the companion mydlink Lite can be downloaded from the Play Store to control the app and manipulate device settings.

The app displays live video via the app; I was somewhat surprised by the clarity, which can be sharpened by manually adjusting the lens. It boasts three different resolution, and there is a distinct difference in them. The pan and tilt functionality is easily handled intuitively by gestures on the display. Camera shots can be acquired via the app as well. I did notice some lag in gesture operations though, but I found the voice quality to be clear.

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The app allows for event-triggered push notifications, and I also like the fact that firmware upgrades can be initiated from within the app. The app also controls other D-Link connected peripherals (like the recently reviewed Smart Plug), so its nice to have a one-stop point for such units.

Altogether, it’s a pretty nice option that is easy to use and appreciate. It works well in different scenarios and lighting conditions, and is a fantastic starting piece in any connected home setup.

My KODAK Moments App Gets Update That Brings New Video Feature

My KODAK Moments App Gets Update That Brings New Video Feature

Sep 19, 2014

The My KODAK Moments App recently received an update that brings an interesting new video generation feature.

Now, users can try out the “Tell My Story” feature. This feature allows users of the app to select any three device-hosted images and to cobble them together with voice-overs. Kodak Alaris promises users a more engaging, personalized sharing experience, and it helps that the resultant product can be shared via social networks, text and email.

The new features are in addition to existing, including printing and ordering via device, and the ability to connect to KODAK kiosks via wi-fi.

The app showcases the continued innovation of the reborn company; Kodak Alaris Chief Ralf Gerbershagen talks about what drives the Kodak Alaris. “In a world where we capture more images and share more images than ever before, we’re passionate about helping people capture, keep, share, relive and celebrate their precious moments as easily as possible,” he says. “We’re driven by a simple belief – to help consumers find a better way. It drives us to keep innovating and push the boundaries between the physical (retail space) and digital (mobile/PC) environments.”

The updated My KODAK Moments app is available for free on the Play Store.

[Source: Kodak Press Release]

SwannEye HD Wi-Fi Security Camera Hardware Review

SwannEye HD Wi-Fi Security Camera Hardware Review

Jun 4, 2014

Even security is mobile nowadays, and Swann has been championing the cause for a while; we recently had an opportunity to review its smartdevice-enabled SwannEye ADS-445 HD IP Netwrk Camera.

The review package is packed. Literally. Manuals in different languages, warranty info, power cord, ethernet camera, installation software, camera stand, antenna, bracketing screws, security stickers and, of course, the camera itself.

The device itself is slight by sturdy; it really cannot be described as heavy, but it does carry a bit more heft than might be guessed before holding it at 0.73 lbs. It’s made up of the rotating and oscillating camera head, which is held up from the base on a swiveling platform specially designed to accommodate the varied movements. On the side of the camera is an SD card slot, and at the back are ports for the DC 5V power and LAN, as well as audio in and out, alarm input, and just above, there is a speaker.

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Towards the front, at the bottom, are LED lights indicating on status and connectivity, and a subtle built-in microphone. The camera lens itself is surrounded by a light sensor and a bunch of infrared LED lights.

Connectivity to a computer is easily achieved via the software, but for the purposes of this review, we were really interested in the mobile component. Using the SwannEye app available on the Play Store, a control connection can be established, and via gestures, the camera responds to basic commands. Video can be recorded to SD cards up to 32GB (using an Eyefi card is a cool option). The app also allows one to share images via connected networks.

There is noticeable lag when using the app, lag that isn’t as severe when using the Windows version. The software can be temperamental at times, but once one gets it up and running, it works for the long haul. Unobtrusive mounting is a bit hamstrung by the power requirement as well. The video quality was better than expected though, with the camera capable of 720p 1280 x 720 at up to 30 frames per second.

For wi-fi based camera needs, this camera is a formidable option, and the motion-detection is a great feature. The pluses outweigh the drawbacks.

Film Vintage-Style Videos In FullHD Resolution With iSupr8

Film Vintage-Style Videos In FullHD Resolution With iSupr8

Mar 17, 2014

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If Instagram isn’t enough for you, here’s an app that lets anyone shoot 1080p videos and then add vintage effects and “dirt” to them, making them look like old-timey footage. The app also serves as a video sharing site, with much larger video lengths available for subscribers, unlike, say, Vine. Download it from here: iSupr8 Vintage Video Camera on Google Play.

Record Live Reactions From Your Friends With ReactChat

Record Live Reactions From Your Friends With ReactChat

Feb 25, 2014

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It’s a very simple, but brilliant idea. ReactChat is a simple chat program, much like your native messaging app, but it provides a small and very unique feature: When someone shares a picture or a video, the person who recieves the image gets his reaction recorded through the front camera of the device. Then this short video is automatically sent to the first person. This way you can exchange content and see each other’s reaction without having to be in a video-chat all the time. The app can be downloaded for free from here: ReactChat on Google Play.

Introducing Portrait Lens, A Photo Manipulation App

Introducing Portrait Lens, A Photo Manipulation App

Oct 31, 2013

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Portrait Lens makes the photos, taken with a mobile camera, look like pictures, taken with a professional DSLR camera. Obviously, it won’t improve pixel density or anything like that, but it will create a fine-looking illusion of focus, with just a few operations. Portrait Lens can be downloaded for free from here: Portrait Lens on Google Play.

KickStarter Spotlight: Beastgrip

KickStarter Spotlight: Beastgrip

Oct 16, 2013

Being an amateur photographer myself the Instagramed over-filtered photo movement is slowly killing me inside. As the camera sensors on phones keeps improving the line between phone and camera becomes increasingly blurred, but until legitimate lenses could be securely mounted onto phones the gap would still be too great to be considered serious. This is exactly why this week’s KickStarter Spotlight, Beastgrip, caught my eye. The Beastgrip is a device that holds most smartphones and allows for easy mounting and attaching of lenses to turn any modern smartphone into a full fledged photography machine.

Staying true to its name the Beastgrip is a “beast” of a grip. The thing is huge, but honestly, it has to be in order to account for as many phones and mounts as possible. Attach the Beastgrip wherever any other camera mount could go: the side of a car, on a longboard, a pole for some first person skiing; the list goes on. In short, the Beastgrip is one of the best ways to turn that normal smartphone into a GoPro.

8999a93386460dfc35df85652572da9e_largeI probably would not be spotlighting the Beastgrip if it was not for the option to attach 37mm and 52mm threaded mount lenses. Anyone who works with cameras knows that lenses are massively important and are the main reason most smartphones will never fully render the standalone camera obsolete. Pretty much any lens can be attached from wide angle and fisheye to telephoto and macro; even SLR prime lenses will work with the proper adapters. So no more adding filters in post-processing, slap a real color filter on the Beastgrip and get some great hipster shots the old fashioned way, J.J. Abrams lens flare and all.

Currently, the Beastgrip is being offered for incremental $65, $70, $75, and $85 donations, but supplies are limited as the $65 and $75 offers have both already sold out. So, anyone looking to take their smartphone to the next level and add some professional level touch to their Instagram page should definitely give Beastgrip a look.

KickStarter Spotlight: Velocity Clip

KickStarter Spotlight: Velocity Clip

Oct 31, 2012

Anyone who has ever done anything athletic has probably wished they had been able to catch that on camera from their point of view. Taking a bike ride down a mountain trail, surfing, or escaping the police on foot; all of these would generate some great first person video along with a pretty epic Facebook post. There are mounts out there for sure, even specialty cameras for this sort of thing, so what is the problem. The problem is that these are generally priced too high and are not flexible enough. Also, why buy a new video camera when most modern smartphones shoot in 1080p video anyway. The perfect harness would be something that was able to be placed on an array of locations as well as be able to securely clasp a majority of the vast world of smartphones. Fortunately, a gnarly duo from, where else, San Francisco has created just that. Meet the Velocity Clip; a phone harness that allows for excellent first-person video while holding nearly any smartphone with vault like security.

Looking for flexibility? It is a good thing the Velocity Clip can be placed pretty much anywhere on the body with its array of harnesses and clips. The best position is naturally on the chest but it can go anywhere including the head with an included mounting strap. Coming also is a third mount that contains a super powerful adhesive which is advertised to be able to stick to motorcycle helmets during high speeds. I am not sure who would trust their new S3 to that claim, and needless to say I am not quite sold there. Fortunately, the actual clasp that holds the phone looks quite well designed with two locking screws and a grip that is made from the same material as NFL receiver gloves. The clutch is easily expanded and can even support most point and shoot cameras as well as the ability to tilt up or down for an optimal shooting angle.

The asking price for the Velocity Clip is pretty ambitious but there is a reason for that. In order to make the whole package cost effective they have to run more product but by doing that their total cost is greater even though the cost per piece is less. So instead of running a typical 500 units and selling them for $80 they are trying to run 1200 units which would allow the Velocity Clip to be sold at a very reasonable $49 for three separate mounts.

Free App Recap September 25th

Free App Recap September 25th

Sep 25, 2012

Android devices have pretty awesome cameras these days. Although the stock camera application works well, it doesn’t usually have any filters or special features. To add features or filters it’s possible to add a popular application such as Instagram. One problem with that is, there is no way to take wide angle pictures, everything is square.

Luckily for us there are thousands of camera applications available in the Google Play Store. In the list below, there are three different camera applications to show part of the variety of apps available in Google Play for taking stylish photos at the cool price of free.


Retro Camera


Retro Camera Gives the pictures taken a retro look. Shocker, I know. It’s a neat application because it actually looks like a retro camera on the screen. There’s a small viewfinder and the buttons on the screen looks like the back end of a retro camera. There are a multitude of different effects and even different cameras.

Download Retro Camera


Multi-lens Camera


Multi-lens Camera can capture up to six snapshots. The images are arranged in either a collage or a template arrangement. The arrangement of the images is user selectable and gives a unique look at the images. the images are not taken automatically, for each image it takes a manual presses the button. That way when taking pictures of two separate individuals, it’s not a timing issue to get everything set up a certain way.

Download Multi-lens Camera


Lomo Camera


Lomo Camera offers 12 different filters to help create a great looking picture. The theme of the filters is a retro look . The filters available can make images look like something from an old family album found in the attic. While the application this itself is free, there are paid filters that one can purchase. Personally, I thought underwater camera was cool.

Download Lomo Camera

Perfectly Clear for Android Review

Perfectly Clear for Android Review

Sep 14, 2012

People generally carry around phones and not a point-and-shoot camera these days because of the improved quality of cameras on phones. Taking a quick picture is also a lot easier from a phone because it’s usually in hand. The problem with the camera on most phones is it’s not quite as good as what a camera of the same megapixel rating would be. Part of the problem is clarity, and even though there are some settings to adjust clarity, contrast or color clarity still lacks.

Perfectly Clear Aims to cure this problem. The way Perfectly Clear works is to autocorrect common problems when taking images on a mobile device. There are quite a few options to fix the image. Options, such as exposure, depth, vibrancy, sharpen and skintone are all available for free. Other options are available as in-app-purchase.

After Perfectly Clear makes a correction to the image, there is a line right down the middle, showing a before and after. This way if the image is not corrected in a satisfactory manner, it’s obvious right away easy to compare. Several premade presets such as fix dark and fix tints. If desired, several user created presets can be saved also.

Perfectly Clear can make adjustments to pictures taken from the camera, downloaded images or images saved from messages. This means previously captured pictures can be adjusted to make them look as good as possible. Images from the previous vacation or taken while indoors without a flash can be brightened automatically. When a certain combination of settings is found to work well, save it as a preset for later use.

Having a application like this right on the phone is a huge timesaver from loading it onto a computer and using an image manipulation program like Photoshop to enhance the image. And it’s way better than just living with a dark image or deleting it.