Published on March 25th, 2013 | by Greg
The Padcaster: Make Your iPad Production-Ready
Tablets have become essential production tools for photographers and videographers. Given the unlimited uses, with apps available for everything from post-production to teleprompting, they have become not just a part of the toolkit but in some cases the entire kit itself. And while earlier models featured cameras that were mediocre at best, they continue to improve, and the newer iPads feature decent optics and even 1080p video capture. What’s missing from the equation though, despite the incredible number of cases and accessories, was an easy setup for tripod mounting and that offered space to connect other gear as well.
That’s the basic idea behind the Padcaster, which is essentially an aluminum frame that can snugly hold your iPad and that offers threads to mount other needed items, like lights or mics. Available individually, or in a combination package with the unique Lenscaster, when combined they radically upgrade your iPad’s suitability for use in a studio and make it a sort of all-in-one video podcast recording suite. We’ve seen similar gear for smartphones- like the K-tek Quarter20 which is a tripod-ready case and monopod- and the Lenscaster is fairly close to the Olloclip, but for the iPad instead of the iPhone, and with a much wider variety of lenses allowed.
Instead of only being able to add a fisheye or specific custom lenses, the Lenscaster allows you to use most any SLR lenses- you just need the correct adapters. It makes for a slightly unwieldy apparatus, but it’s a great way to make use out of some of your old glass and the best way to get a decent zoom on your iPad as well as other handy tricks and effects like manual focus and being able to set a depth of field.
The Padcaster itself is solidly built, and there is a nice, removable urethane insert that fits along back. You can take out that padding as well as your tablet and instead attach your DSLR to the frame- and you have an instant extendable platform for you to attach other gear alongside your camera. If you’ve ever wondered what to do with your mic and your external light when using both at the same time, you could use a bracket- or you could use this frame instead, which offers lots of 1/4-20 and 3/8-16 screw holes and placement options. At the bottom, a tripod thread and locking-pin hole let you connect the Padcaster to your tripod, monopod or even a shoulder mount. When using your iPad in the frame and holder, your power button and volume buttons are accessible, but the ports (both power and headphone jack) are not so readily available.
The frame is flat and stays steady upright for use on a table or other flat surface- no wobble, no tilt. Plus, the Padcaster holds everything quite nicely for use while on the tripod, meaning that you can edit videos or photos, touching the screen freely (as long as your tripod is stable, that is). We were initially worried that we’d have to take a hands-off approach for fear of it shaking or falling, but we were quickly proven wrong. And the Padcaster has proven itself incredibly useful- the sort of thing that you don’t know you need until you have it.
It’s a niche product to be sure- if you don’t have an iPad that you use for production work, then it’s not for you. But it’s the best solution for mounting an iPad on a tripod, and it goes even further, especially with the Lenscaster and thanks to the many screw holes. Available now, for $150, and well worth the price.