Thursday, February 16, 2017

Smartphone tripod adapters for 360 cameras

There are an increasing number of 360 cameras that attach to smartphones such as the Insta360 Nano, the Insta360 Air, and the Giroptic iO, to name a few.  To get better composition from these cameras, it is usually best to shoot with a selfie stick or monopod.  To do so, you'll need a smartphone tripod adapter.  Here are the ones I've tried, and here's my recommendation.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
If you have the Insta360 Nano, I recommend the Nano Mount (reviewed here).  It's not cheap but it has exceptional build quality and most importantly, it will hold your Nano securely.  In addition, its thin profile won't be as prominent in the shot.
If you have the Insta360 AirGiroptic iO, or want to use the Insta360 Nano with a smartphone, I recommend Ulanzi (in black or white).  It holds your phone securely, places the selfie stick directly beneath the phone (and the 360 camera), and has a relatively small profile in 360 photos.



COMPARISON
I compared my smartphone tripod adapters, noting their advantages and disadvantages.  I also took test shots to compare their profiles.  For the test shots, I used an Insta360 Air attached to a Samsung S6.  I positioned the Air to be 14 inches from the floor.

1. Generic smartphone tripod adapter.
This adapter came with one of my cheap selfie sticks.  The tripod mount is on the bottom.
Advantages: places selfie stick along the stitch line.
Disadvantages: phone will be off-center from the selfie stick, making it less stable.
Cost: around $5.
generic adapter's profile

5. Generic smartphone adapter from Daiso
This adapter has a tripod socket behind it, which allows the phone to be positioned in portrait orientation.
Advantages: the phone will be more balanced.
Disadvantages: the selfie stick (including its ballhead) and your hand will be more visible in the shot.
Cost: around $1.50 from Daiso.
Daiso adapter's profile.  Note the ballhead from the selfie stick.

3. XSories smartphone adapter
This small clamp holds a phone in either portrait or landscape orientation.  It has two holes - one on the right side and another below it.
Advantages: very versatile, can be used for Nano by itself or with a smartphone, can also be used to make a smartphone stand.  Won't block the screen.
Disadvantages: its grip on the phone is not very secure; the adapter will be visible in the shot.
Costaround $15.
XSories profile

4.  Vastar smartphone tripod adapter

This smartphone tripod adapter has two holes - one on the bottom and another on the back.
Advantages: grips a phone securely because of strong springs, phone is more balanced on selfie stick
Disadvantages: the selfie stick (including its ballhead) and your hand will be more visible in the shot.
Cost: around $8.
Vastar profile.  Note the ballhead from the selfie stick.

5. Ulanzi smartphone tripod adapter
This adapter has two parts: a clamp, similar to the Vastar, and an L-shaped bracket.  The two parts are separable.  Unlike the Vastar, the Ulanzi's clamp is screw-driven.
Advantages: grips a phone securely; phone is balanced on selfie stick; small profile because selfie stick is below the phone and the 360 camera.
Disadvantages: the clamp may press on one of your phone's side buttons; the clamp cannot move up or down.
Cost: around $9
Ulanzi profile


6. Insta360 Nano Mount (only for Insta360 Nano)
The Nano Mount has a receptacle designed specifically for the Insta360 Nano.  It has a knob that drives a clamp.  The Nano Mount's body is carved from a single block of aluminum.  It's a must-have accessory for the Insta360 Nano.
Advantages: holds Insta360 Nano securely; Insta360 Nano is balanced on the selfie stick; has a very small profile in a 360 photo.
Disadvantages: works only with Insta360 Nano and not other 360 cameras; cannot be used with a smartphone
Cost: around $30 to 35.
Nano Mount's profile
RELATED POSTS
Benro MK10 is my new favorite selfie stick tripod

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