Beastgrip dramatically improves smartphone video quality with depth of field adapter

Smartphones are able to shoot astonishingly high quality video these days, but ultimately, the lenses and sensors built into your phone are too small to get a decent shallow depth of field effect. Beastgrip is about to launch a Depth of Field adapter that makes it possible to use high-end SLR lenses with your smartphone — with impressive results. Version 2 of the Beastgrip DOF adapter is coming to Kickstarter soon, and may cause you to reconsider what smartphone video looks like.

The DOF adapter is a passive adapter, meaning that you can’t use autofocus or electronic aperture controls, but the great thing is that there are lots and lots of fantastic, cheap manual lenses available. As long as the glass and mechanics are sound, it makes no difference if you use a 5 or 50 year old lens — it’ll look fantastic either way.

The concept of hanging a huge lens off the front of your camera isn’t new, but Beastgrip has taken the idea to an industrial, professional-grade conclusion.

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I had the opportunity to briefly try the solution out, and it works fantastically well. Does it look as good as if you shoot video on a dedicated SLR camera? Of course not — but it’s a huge leap forward compared with shooting with the camera on its own. It’s significantly better, too, than an accessory lens like the ones marketed by Zeiss or Olloclip.

The Beastgrip itself makes it possible to mount your phone on a tripod, and add external monitors, microphones, light sources and much more in the mix. All together, the franken-beast you end up with turns your phone into a pretty decent approximation of a professional video production solution.

“We haven’t announced the pricing yet,” says Alex Chop, COO of Beastgrip. “but the Beastgrip itself is $140, and we expect the DOF adapter to be around $200 or so.”

While Beastgrip is particularly well suited to video creators, there’s nothing to stop you from using it for photography purposes, too. Your iPhone will probably look pretty ridiculous with a $26,000 200-500mm f/2.8 lens on it, but if thats how you want to roll, you can. Although at that point, we’re probably talking about a lens with a phone on it, not the other way around.

The company is also introducing 3x and 20x telephoto lenses as part of the impending Kickstarter campaign, and — perplexingly — a 1.33x anamorphic lens.

“By using an anamorphic lens, you get a completely different look,” Chop says. “It helps smartphone video look like the visuals you are used used to from the cinema.”

I’m not entirely sure whether the smartphone video world needs anamorphic lenses, but they’re certainly known for a distinctive look, and if anamorphic is your thing, you’re in luck.

The company already had a DOF adapter, but the version 2 feels a lot more like a professional-grade device. The company is planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign for it in the next few months.