Carson Optics has introduced a new product to the world of Smartphones. The HookUpz Universal Smartphone Optics adapter. This is a device that hopes to make the now nearly ubiquitous Smartphones even more useful to hobby and industry as it is supposed to allow you to attach almost any Smartphone to almost any optical system (microscope, binocular, telescope).
But that brings the question: Does it work? We’ll we spent some time fiddling with one to find out!
First of all I had a small problem. I tend to use my Smartphone to take pictures for blog posts, but how could I use the phone to take pictures of itself while it was in the Hookupz? I couldn’t really find a phone to borrow so I ended up using an old phone that actually gave the HookUpz a bit more of a workout. The phone was an HTC Incredible, which was released in 2010. Since this was a 4 year old phone it was a bit on the small side:
One small advantage to using this old phone, however, was the position of its camera lens. While the Samsung Galaxy 3 I presently have has the camera lens in the center of the top of the phone the Incredible has its lens off to one side – more like iPhones.
First part of attaching the phone is to pull the spring arm out and put the phone in place. Then you need to adjust the bottom phone clamp to the setting where the phone’s camera lens is level (but not centered) with the hole on the back :
However there was a small problem: The Incredible was too short! The instructions suggested keeping it in its case (I didn’t have a case for it) or just not bothering and letting the spring arm and phone clamp hold the phone in place. Oddly enough, it worked!
So now the phone needed adjusting so that the lens was centered. This meant lifting the phone clamp locking arm and pulling the spring arm. It is a bit tricky and photographing this process requires an extra arm.
After some fidgeting and a couple of readjustments brought on by forgetting to lock down the Phone clamp locking arm I managed to get the camera lens centered,
The phone was now ready to attach to an optical device. This is done by squeezing the clamp arms to spread the optics clamps (those green things in the photos above).
Then you place the arms around the tube of the optics system you are using and gently release. The clamps gently but firmly grasp the system without scrapes or other marks! First we tried a kid’s microscope:
Then we tried an Inspection microscope
The some binoculars
And Finally an astronomical telescope (we did not have a spotting scope)
Now, having gone through the efforts of attaching the HTC Incredible I had to re-do the attachment phase with my Samsung since the Incredible was dead and could not take pictures. Once this was done we started trying to take pictures with the HookUpz!
First I turned on the phone camera and go this view:
Those are the optics clamps.
Keep in mind that you will have some vignetting with your camera whichever optics system you have. This means that the entire screen will not be filled with the image – at least not at first. You can reduce the vignetting but using the zoom on the phone’s camera. This may cut off portions of the ’round’ image you get through the eyepeice – you just can’t square the circle I’m afraid.
We started with a Biological/Compound Microscope. The only problemswas that this was a floor model and the eyepiece has a small bend to it, which may have caused some odd effects. Here is a shot of a stained slide we took after some fidgeting.
I moved onto an inspection microscope which was more intact. There we discovered something of an issue with using the HookUpz. This was the image we got at first:
This issue is caused by the part of the lens not being aligned with the optics of the microscope. This is an issue not covered well by the instructions. However I have worked with optics most of my life and did some fidgeting with how the camera ‘lay’ in the HookUpz. This is rather unexplainable without images and may be a shortcoming that can frustrate users. I am not surprised this was a result happened, but I was more concerned with the lack of coverage of this issue in the troubleshooting section of the instructions.
In any case, once I was done fidgeting with the fit the images got much better:
There were still some issues with glare and dark zones, but given the limited time I had to fidget with the fit this worked fairly well.
Next I tried shooting through a binocular. This could not be done free-handed – I had to mount the binocular to a tripod. The first image I got was actually not bad:
Using the camera zoom I closed in on the image. The issue now was that touching the phone could make it bounce. But to take an image you have to touch the phone! Nurr!
Still, it came out pretty well. I did not crop the image to show how the zoom worked.
In conclusion, the HookUpz pretty much does what it claims. We did not try using a telescope since it was not nighttime but I would reserve that process for last anyway since it would doubtless be the hardest test.
The leveling and vignetting issues were mostly resolvable, but I worry about those who don’t have the experience with optics that I have. With even more time to tweak and adjust the phone I could have probably improved the image more, but I would have had to repeat that process each time I attached the phone to the HookUpz. that can be a little frustrating. Still the HookUpz is miles away from Phone-specific devices for attaching to optics to phones or previous ‘universal’ adapters (that weren’t).
Want to but the HookUpz Universal Smartphone Optics Adapter?