HiLO lens provides a new angle on iPhone photography


October 23, 2012

The HiLO right-angle lens allows iPhone and iPad photographers to more easily get high- and low-angle shots

The HiLO right-angle lens allows iPhone and iPad photographers to more easily get high- and low-angle shots

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A lot of digital cameras have LCD screens that can be swiveled around independent of the camera body, making it a lot easier to get high- and low-angle shots. Photographers using an iPhone or iPad, however, are stuck with an unswivel-able screen. That’s where the HiLO lens comes in. It’s a right-angle lens that attaches to an iDevice’s existing lens, allowing users to shoot up, down or to either side while still being able to view the screen.

Created by New Zealand-based inventor Mark Hampton, the HiLO has an aluminum body, containing three glass lenses and a prism. It attaches to an iPhone 4/4S/5’s lens (or the lens of a third-gen iPad) via a sticky polymer pad that can be washed and reused indefinitely.

As an example of how it works, imagine getting a very low-angle shot, where the camera is peering through short grass. Ordinarily, it would be simple enough to get the unadorned iPhone lens down that low, if the phone were held perpendicular to the ground. However, the user would have to lie flat on their belly in order to see its screen.

Using the HiLO, the phone could be held parallel to the ground, with the user looking straight down onto its screen – although the phone’s own lens would be pointing down, the 90-degree angle of the HiLO would allow it to shoot to the side.

Similarly, for high-angle shots, the user could hold the phone horizontally up over their head. They could then look up into the screen, while shooting forwards instead of up.

Hampton also points out that it allows tables to be used as tripods – the iPhone can be laid flat at the edge of a table, with the HiLO hanging over the edge and pointing in the desired direction. Although he doesn’t mention it, another use could be for getting candid shots of camera-shy people. Unless they already knew about the trick lens, chances are that most people would pay no attention to a smartphone that wasn’t pointing at them.

The HiLO package additionally includes an app that corrects for optical distortions and flips the mirrored image around to its proper orientation. It also includes a shutter delay feature, so users can set the phone on a table and then get into a group shot or self-portrait.

Hampton and his team are currently raising production funds for the HiLO, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$60 will get you one, when and if the funding goal is reached – the estimated retail cost is about $80.

It can be seen in use in the pitch video below.

Source: Kickstarter

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Here we go again...more lens add-ons to try and emulate respectable photography. What next, the Hubble Space Telescope lens adapter for the iPhone?

Fahrenheit 451

that will happen next month, apps for that take time Fahrenheit 451, yes I have the band for macro pictures for the 4s, former SIGH, PALM PRE III user, Gawd I miss that phone, sigh, miss the cards, deep sigh, unngh

Bill Bennett

Now it just needs a tough waterproof case and I can stick the Iphone on the side of my bike helmet and use it as an action cam !

Jay Marron

This reminds me of the MirrorCase ( ) that was on Kickstarter a while back. Similar concept but in my opinion its better because it protects the iPhone with an all-in-one case. Its pretty amazing how many iPhone accessories are out there.


@JTechLover unlike MirrorCase the HiLO Lens provides the full field of view of the iPhone camera for photos. In the fixed MirrorCase orientation video will be in portrait (not landscape). The MirrorCase increases the thickness of the phone by about 300% which makes it impractical as an everyday case. The HiLO Lens supports iPad and iPad mini while MirrorCase is limited to one device. These are some of the reasons we designed the HiLO Lens and believe it is a better approach than anything else on the market.

Mark Hampton
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