Take a look through the stats pages of popular image hosting sites like Flickr and Photobucket and you may be surprised to find that the most popular camera used to capture images isn’t a DSLR or even a compact, but rather Apple’s iPhone 4. So popular has the little 5MP become, in fact, that sites like www.eyeem.com have sprung up to cater exclusively for cameraphone images-as-art. Given this, we’re all for products that can help iPhone users capture better images. Is the Canopy Kapok such a product?
At first glance the Kapok appears to be little more than a protective case for the iPhone 4. Look closer, however, and you’ll notice it has two physical buttons built into the side of the case. When the Kapok is used in tandem with Canopy’s self-titled app (available for free through the App Store) these buttons can be used to activate the shutter. Better still, both buttons are sensitive to a half-press too, the shutter button responding by finding and locking focus – just like on a regular digital camera.
In addition, the Kapok case has a ¼-inch thread inserted into the base of it, which allows it to be mounted to a regular tripod. The Kapok even comes bundled with a weighted base unit fitted with a miniature ball-head topped with a ¼-inch screw mount.
The ball-head part of this isn’t particularly well made (ours actually came apart within five minutes), but at a push it could be used as a kind of makeshift tripod – just so long as you have a flat enough surface to rest it on. If you’re serious about using your iPhone 4 with a tripod then a compact-sized Joby Gorillapod would undoubtedly prove far more practical. That said, we do rather like how Canopy has integrated the base unit into the Kapok’s overall packaging – kudos to them for that.
The Canopy app that’s specifically designed to work with the Kapok isn’t bad either. By far its strongest individual feature is the customisable time-lapse feature. By attaching your iPhone to a tripod (or perhaps the supplied base unit), you could use this to capture some interesting videos over extended periods. You’ll have to work out how to use all of the app's features by yourself though, as no instructions are provided either with the device or on the manufacturer’s website.
In addition to capturing still images, the Canopy app can also be used to shoot video. There’s a good degree of physical button and touch-screen customisation, and it also offers direct control over the iPhone’s built-in LED flash, along with the ability to lock exposure and White Balance settings. In addition, you can also call upon a useful levelling tool to keep your horizons straight, and there’s a 3x3 (or 6x4) grid overlay available for those who want to utilise the photographic rule of thirds.