Smartphone Accessories for Genealogy

By Denise May Levenick Premium

You can maximize your smartphone’s genealogy usefulness with these accessories:

  • Shutter release: Avoid camera jiggle when photographing documents and heirlooms by using a remote shutter release. The iPhone standard earbuds with in-line volume control work with the phone as a wired shutter release cable with the camera app. Plug in the cable and press the volume control to activate the camera shutter. On Android phones, use similar earbuds with volume control. For wireless connectivity, purchase a remote shutter such as the Okeyn Bluetooth Wireless Shutter Remote Control for under $10 and connect via Bluetooth to your phone.
  • Smartphone mount: These aren’t just for car dashboards. Look for a smartphone mount with a versatile screw mount to add a tripod, video stabilizer, off-device light or recorder. The Joby GripTight Mount securely holds your smartphone to rotate and tilt when attached to a tripod or stand. Use it with the flexible Joby Gorillapod tripod and remote shutter to capture shake-free images or as a stand for viewing webinars and videos.
  • Macro lens: Photographers add special lenses to their cameras to perform special tasks. Add a macro lens to your smartphone to help you capture the tiniest details in old photos and the fine print in documents. The Phonescope clips on to all popular smartphones without scratching the display and captures high-quality microscopic images and videos.
  • Light reflector: Get better pictures of aging tombstones by using a collapsible light reflector (available from photography suppliers; in a pinch, cover a large piece of cardboard with foil) to direct sunlight to the stone. This photography trick will highlight worn carving and faint lines so you can decipher names and dates. You’ll need an assistant to direct the reflected light or a tripod as you snap the photo. 
  • Recording equipment: For interviewing family members or filming videos, you may want to use external equipment. The Shoulderpod portable smartphone rig allows you to add gear to your smartphone recording setup and provides a sturdy handgrip for steady filming. The Edutige EIM-001 microphone captures sound better than the phone’s built-in microphone, and is compatible with most smartphones.
A version of this article appeared in the September 2016 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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