It's convenient that your do-it-all iPhone, which is rarely out of arm's reach, affords you camera functionality, too. But for the true traveling artiste, its inherent photographic capabilities leave much to be desired. Enter these seven super accessories, guaranteed to add style, flair, and panache to your iPhone shots—and change the way you see and capture the world along the way.
1. SLR Lens Mount
Why We Like It: This case/adapter lets you attach your fancy Canon or Nikon SLR lenses to your iPhone. Naturally, it won't be exactly like having your actual DSLR rig with you, but it'll get you awfully darned close. It's a great hybrid system that gives you the quality and control you just can't get from just a simple point-and-shoot camera phone.
How Much: $249
Buy It: Visit Photojojo.com.
Why We Like It: It offers three special little lenses in one package, which weighs less than an ounce. The wide angle doubles what you can capture; the fisheye offers a fun, curvy 180-degree view; and the macro lets you take amazing close-ups from just one centimeter away. In addition to all three lenses, it comes with caps for both ends and a handy microfiber bag (which doubles as a cleaning cloth).
How Much: $70
Buy It: Visit Olloclip.com.
3. Water-Resistant Mount
Why We Like It: It turns your iPhone into a rough-and-tumble action camera. Your choice of flat and curved mounts lets you stick it to a helmet, bike, or—for the truly daring—an oar as you go down the rapids. It's got an anti-vibration encasement to help stabilize what are sure to be bouncy shots. And its water-resistant membrane means you don't have to worry about splashes; just note it's not designed for snorkeling. This spring, however, they're coming out with a new model that will let you delve into the briny deep with your favorite high-definition videophone.
How Much: $90
Buy It: Visit Optrix.com.
Why We Like It: It lets you shoot and share 360-degree panoramic video. Simply snap on the attachment, point your iPhone face down, and press the volume button. As you travel, it captures you and everything around you. When you play back the video, a swipe of the finger lets you pan around to see entire vistas from atop that mountain you climbed, into that canyon you explored, or around that beach you lounged upon. Plus, its app lets you easily share your favorites through email, Twitter, and Facebook.
How Much: $79
Buy It: Visit Kogeto.com.
Why We Like It: It's an easy way to capture yourself on video. Just pop your iPhone 4 or 4S into the base; clip the marker to your person; frame the shot vertically; and it'll automatically follow you as you mosey back and forth! The iOS app allows you to start and stop the video and adds a high-quality wireless mic for iPhone users. The unit will work with other devices, too, such as the fourth generation iPod Touch, Android phones under 11 millimeters thick, and any tripod-mountable pocket video cam under 6 ounces. At least for now, the non-Apple devices don't have the same remote capabilities, just basic video; still, it's a very cool way to make your own video travelogue.
How Much: $179
Buy It: Visit Swivl.com.
6. Holga Lens
Why We Like It: It lets you dial up any of nine creative, colorful effects. Make that sunset look otherworldly with a green or red tinge. Try a blue, red, or yellow filter with a clear center to surround your sweetie in a perfectly complementary color. Get close-up shots of flowers with the macro lens; set a soft vignette around El Capitan for a grainy, low-tech look; or, make a kaleidoscope-like dual, triple, or quadruple image, for that pop-art feeling. However you mix and match them, it'll be much more fun than simply clicking and shooting your phone's humdrum digital camera.
How Much: $30
Buy It: Visit Photojojo.com.
7. Mini Microscope
Why We Like It: Three built-in LED lights and a special 60X magnification lens let you and your iPhone get way up close and personal. You can focus on the tiny details that others might miss along the way, as you stomp through Sedona or beat a trail in the Badlands.
How Much: $40
Buy It: Visit DiscoveryStore.com.
Fodors.com Travel Technology Columnist Scott Tharler is an expert in gadgets, gambling, and travel. He’s written four books, plus hundreds of mobile and wireless tips for Sony and PC World. In addition to his daily Discovery News gadget blog, you can find links to other gadget articles, social feeds and lists of his current favorite gadgets at about.me/gadgetfans.
Photo Credits: 1. © Photojojo; 2. Patricko (Patrick D. O'Neill); 3. Optrix; 4. Kogeto Inc.; 5. © 2011-2012 Satarii Inc.; 6. © Photojojo; 7. ©2012 Discovery Communication