Just like hard-core gamers love their retro games, hard-core photographers loves their retro cameras. Now thanks to Gizmon iCA5 iPhone case, you can give your iPhone that ‘retro look’ too.
I must admit, the first time I saw the picture of Gizmon iCA iPhone case, I was in awe. It was easily one of the most beautifully made iPhone case I had ever seen.
The design was uniquely intricate and faithfully detailed.
It was a very realistic rendition of the retro façade from the classic Leica camera. My immediate thought was, ‘Yes‘ I wanted one of these.
And so here it is I am holding it in my hand.
What’s in the box
The version that I have with me is the all-black Gizmon iCA5 Military edition for iPhone 5/5s (there is one also for iPhone 4/4s). The package comes with the following components:
- A Central Unit (the main case).
- A Head Unit (the part which looks like the top part of a real camera).
- A Mock-Lens Base
- A Mock-Lens
- A Thin Mock-Lens
- A Lens-Mount Unit
- A Tripod Mount
- And a buch of other accesories like rings for strap, a screen protector and a sticker.
I found Gizmon iCA5 case design to be quite elegant considering that it must emulate the look and feel of a real camera while still maintaining the support for the iPhone camera and smartphone functions, though some things need to give as you can read below.
The foundation of the Gizmon iCA5 ‘knock-down‘ design is based on what it’s called the Central Unit. This is essentially the main body of the case itself. It consists of two-half parts that slides from each end of the iPhone to meet in the middle enclosing the handset.
The two-piece assemblies are ‘locked‘ in place using the Mock-Lens Base by placing it on top of the circular attachment point in the middle of the case (where a lens would usually be located on a real camera) and turned clockwise to lock the central-unit in place.
Using these 3 components alone are actually enough to make up a fully functioning case. The durable polycarbonate material will give a good protection and the soft sponge inline will work as a ‘shock absorber’. Your iPhone will feel pretty much tight inside there.
But if I only wanted a case, I would’ve just found what ever I could find, right? The idea of getting the Gizmon iCA5 is that I want more than just an ordinary case 🙂
Take the Head Unit for example. It’s the part that you can attach to one of the side of the case by using the 2 screws located on each end of the unit.
If you look at the picture of the real Leica camera I attached above, you can see that these 2 screws are meant to mimic the Leica dials.
Furthermore, the head unit is not just a dummy mock-up but it also sports a working Optical Viewfinder and 2 working volume buttons, one of them works as the shutter release (just like in the real camera)!
Last but not least you can find at the top of the head unit a micro hot-shoe, onto which you can attach various accessories like for example the Gizmon iCA Flash.
Our ‘disguise‘ wouldn’t be complete without the Mock Up Lenses! Gizmon iCA5 package comes with not just one but two of them! One is a thin one so you can carry your iPhone in your pocket, whereas the other is thicker and the closest one to look like a real lens.
Both mock lenses have a reflective ‘mirror‘ on their surface to help you to take, yup you guess it, a selfie. The mock-lens is attached to the base in a similar fashion the Mock-Lens Base is attached to the central unit.
Now the iPhone’s retro look transformation is complete! In glance, it’s hard to tell the real one and the knock-off apart. It does look quite realistic.
No iPhone Case kit is complete without including some way of mounting itself on to a Tripod. Gizmon iCA5 is no exception in this case. It comes with a Tripod Mount that in a glance looks very similar to the original Glif which I’ve reviewed also in this blog.
The tripod mount should slip nicely underneath the case and it has a standard tripod thread that will fit any standard tripod in the market.
Gizmon iCA5 originally comes in the Military Matte Black edition and the standard Black and Silver colour.
But recently they have released also Limited (more colourful) Colours iCA5. Now besides the 2 original colours, you can also get iCA5 in Celosia Orange, Freesia Yellow, Dazzling Blue, Radiant Orchid. These are perfect for you who love colours.
Gizmon iCA5 Case and Strap
Not content with just mimicking an old camera? Well, maybe you can add to the illusion one of these specially made Case and Strap. The case and strap are made from PU Leather, i.e. synthetic leather with soft inline. It covers most of the front and the sides while leaving an opening at the back to still let operating the phone possible.
The case/strap comes in Black, Brown, Green and Red. Using one of these to carry your iCA5 clad iPhone you will be almost indistinguishable from other street photography pro out there.
Gizmon iCA5 Conversion Lens
Some of you eagle-eyed readers might have noticed that there are 3 pieces of Head Units. Actually it’s more like 1 + 2. The part which covers the iPhone camera lens comes in 2 types. One type comes with simple holes to accommodate iPhone camera lens and LED light. This will allow you to take photo as usual.
The second type is a special one, while it also has a hole for the iPhone standard lens, it also serves as an attachment point for Gizmon’s own conversion lenses!
Now, Gizmon conversion lenses are not like other lenses I’ve been reviewed in this blog as they come in a form of what they call Smartclip. Essentially the lens is attached onto a clip, which means they are actually universal conversion lenses. You can use it on smartphones, on tablets or even on your laptop (I regularly uses the Fisheye Smartclip on my laptop when I am calling via Skype). Apart from this ‘clip’ method, you can actually unscrew the lens and attach it to the iCA5 case! Very cool!
Currently Gizmon conversion lenses come in 6 different types: Fisheye, Macro, Center Focus, Mirage, Cross Screen and CPL (Circular Polarizer).
I’m going to write a separate review on these lenses to get more hands-on and put up some example photos taken with these lenses.
Gizmon is the first iPhone Accessories manufacture from Japan that I’ve ever encountered, and the ‘design’ pedigree shows. They had really thought thoroughly about the case’s aesthetics design without sacrificing function of even safety. As a stand-alone iPhone case it’s pretty solid.
My only problem with this configuration is when I try to put my iPhone horizontally on its back, it won’t stay flat, thanks to the additional height created by the Mock-Lens base on the back of the case. It is as if the iPhone lies on top of a see-saw, and every time I push the home button the iPhone would tip to the front. It makes it somewhat unstable. And it gets worst when the bigger mock-lens is attached, at which point it would be very ineffective to use the phone on a flat surface.
But that’s a small price to pay as you will really get the best Retro Look Replica like you’ve never seen before. Trust me that when you’ve done assembling the whole kit you will have a really wide grin for a while 🙂 Especially when you take it out for a ‘spin’ and watch people reaction when they realise that it’s not a real camera 🙂
Ok, I must say that it’s not for everyone, some of you might mock it – no pun intended – for its vanity value (i.e. what a waste of dosh). But you’ve got to admit, it does look really cool (and geeky).