About this project
Dear Kickstarter backers,
The story of Pictar began 9 years ago at the Mac-World show in San Francisco: Steve Jobs was standing on the huge stage, wearing his usual jeans and black turtleneck. Toward the end of his presentation, Jobs excitedly introduced the first iPhone, and just like that he changed the world of photography as we know it.
The fact that the iPhone is part of our life 24/7, along with the most updated technology Apple engineers continuously pour into it, the ease with which superb images can be produced and its addictive sharing capabilities, have turned the iPhone into the most popular camera in the world. That's why it's not surprising to discover that more than 75% of all the photos taken in the world in 2015 were done by smartphones.
It's almost impossible today to find someone who doesn't take pictures with a Smartphone - from little kids who can hardly hold their parent's iPhone but love taking pictures, to seasoned pros who are not ashamed to pull out their iPhone 6S to capture a fleeting moment in the street or document a process on a professional mission. We are fortunate to witness history in the making...
But is everything really that perfect?
The iPhone camera, and the strong competitors from the East, have made meteoric progress since the first device was introduced with its modest 2 megapixel images. Today they offer photographic technology that matches the standards of professional cameras.
The problem is that these advanced cameras are packed inside a smartphone. The thin, sleek and slick device doesn't offer any secure external grip or controls with the characteristics of traditional DSLR cameras we've come to appreciate.
Along with the availability of the smartphone, we’ve become accustomed to (or rather, we have compromised on) two matters of principle: First, we still use the smartphone's camera in the most awkward way, and pray it doesn't slip out of our fingers and fall to the ground (and indeed sometimes it doesn't); and secondly, most of us never utilize even a fraction of the iPhone camera's enormous potential, because no one has the time or patience to browse through endless internal menus.
The result? In most cases, we shoot in auto mode and compromise on picture quality. It's like coupling a Formula One engine with a steering wheel and gearbox of a golf cart - the engine's potential just cannot reach the road... no matter how skilled the driver is.
Pictar was born to help mobile-photographers to unleash the power of the iPhone’s camera for much better pictures!
Pictar was born to combine the benefits of advanced cameras - IE, full external control of all shooting functions as well as a stable and secure grip, with the advanced camera technology and ultimate availability of the iPhone. In other words - to unleash the full potential of iPhone's photographic capability in order to take much better pictures, time after time! It's pretty cool, but who is it designed for? Pictar is designed for people who are just starting out in photography and are looking to get more out of their iPhone, as well as serious amateur or professional photographers who want ultimate and uncompromising control over the iPhone's camera. No matter what's your level or experience - Pictar will help you get much more from your iPhone!
We invite you to dive in (and scroll down) to learn more about Pictar and what it can do for you and your iPhone:
The real thing - just like a pro DSLR!
Electronically calibrated to provide maximum sensitivity, just like a traditional DSLR. Pictar’s shutter button offers a "half press" mode to lock focus and exposure for easy tracking of a moving object or to create a desired composition, as well as full-press for immediate shutter release. The button is located right under the index finger to enable precise and intuitive shooting, with one hand.
Tip: if you're shooting in a cold environment, or taking pictures of extreme sports, you'll be happy to learn that with Pictar's shutter button you can now take pictures on an iPhone with your gloves!
Zoom with only one hand.
Located right below the shutter release button, the rotating zoom ring does away with the need to touch the screen to pinch-and-zoom, and makes it easy for the user to zoom in and out with just one hand. The zoom ring can also be re-programmed by user to suit specific needs, such as the flash, white-balance, etc. if that's the case, zoom in or out will be done by "pinching" the iPhone's screen, like before.
Let the fun begin!
Clicking the zoom ring will switch between the iPhone's front and back camera for easy "selfie" shots. Like the rotation of the zoom ring, the button can also be re-programmed by user to suit specific needs and control other settings.
Tip: Changed to "selfie" mode? Shooting one-handed? You can use the zoom ring for perfect composition, and shoot pictures you'll love to share.
Control light like never before!
Strategically located in the right corner is the exposure compensation wheel, which lets the user quickly and easily control brightness level even before shooting. And just like with an advanced camera, the exposure compensation wheel changes the exposure in steps of 1/3 aperture, and the clear display appears at the bottom of the iPhone screen.
Tip: In manual mode, the exposure compensation wheel changes its designation and allows control of ISO values.
Fully customizable, the smart wheel allows users to control a variety of functions.
Beginners will love the ease of control - in default mode the smart wheel controls 7 pre-set modes, which enable users to easily adjust the iPhone to any situation while focusing on actually taking the shot. Pre-set modes are:
- Auto mode
- Portrait mode
- Landscape mode
- Sport mode
- Snow mode
- Selfie mode
- Video mode
Advanced photographers will feel right at home: the smart wheel lets you choose between 3 advanced modes:
- Shutter priority
- ISO priority
- Manual (iPhone manual = Shutter + ISO adjustments).
The Virtual Wheel is another great feature that allows the user to control different modes such as Flash modes, Shutter speed, ISO and more - simply by using his thumb. Switching between modes is done by using the Smart Wheel.
Feel like you're holding a real camera
The iPhone is an amazing design icon, and we as designers are full of admiration for the people who brought it to the world - but let's face it: as a camera, it's nowhere near the comfort, safe feel and familiar grip of a traditional camera. So the second task we undertook - after developing advanced controls - was to design an ergonomic grip that would sit comfortably in one hand and let you take one-handed shots while holding it out the window of a speeding jeep. And we believe we did it!
Pictar's grip is coated with anti-slip material and gives you something solid to grasp on one hand, while being compact enough to provide what we love about smartphones - accessibility and ease of storage. Pictar lets you take one-handed shots, anywhere, without falling out of your grasp. It provides sharp images thanks to the steady grip. We think it also looks great, with its trendy retro design inspired by classic cameras we love. Your iPhone will love it.
Saves time looking for your iPhone so you'll never miss a shot or have your precious phone fall.
It's rare to see a camera that isn't connected to a strap. So when we developed Pictar, we knew we wanted to design not one but two straps: a wrist strap to secure it against falling, and a neck strap for carrying. The classic Pictar kit offers a standard adjustable wrist strap with a fast connection clasp. The Pictar-Plus kit includes a neck strap too - which also connects to the same fast connection clasp.
Tip: You can easily change between them or disconnect them both.
The padded case will keep your PICTAR safe when not in use.
Easily connect any tripod, for sharper than ever images
The mobile-camera revolution enables anyone to go out into the wild - jungle or city - armed with just an iPhone. There they discover that they sometimes lack a trusty buddy - a tripod. There are many ways to improvise, but you won't always find a convenient tree or flat rock to stabilize the iPhone when you really could use a tripod.
That's why it was important to us to incorporate a standard 1/4" thread in Pictar, just like real cameras have.
Stable and reliable cold-shoe connector - for many camera accessory - not just iPhone oriented.
The market offers an endless choice of LED-based lighting devices which add a fascinating dimension of light to the creative process. The problem is that many of them - especially the professional ones - are designed to be connected to real cameras with a standard upper connection. So Pictar offers a reliable and stable cold-shoe connection to hook up anything you want - via Pictar - to your iPhone.
- PICTAR's App does not support hand-held flash units.
- The cold shoe mount can support lighting units weighs up to 300 gr. / 0,66 pounds.
- Due to the fact that while it attached to PICTAR, the iPhone's connecting jack is concealed - any device that is using the connecting jack must be disconnected before actual attachment to PICTAR.
Pictar's semi-open body allows connecting most "clip-on" lenses. We've tested it with olloclip lens, and it works great.
A powerful, dedicated app featuring patented high-frequency dual tone sound control.
Pictar is designed to communicate with iPhone via a dedicated camera app which unlocks key features inaccessible on the native app to iPhone users. Each of the physical controls found on Pictar drive a specific function or setting and does so using high-frequency dual tone sounds.
Each physical control is assigned a specific tone, and with each turn of a dial, press of a button or turn of a wheel, Pictar emits a sound that – when detected by the app – generates a corresponding action. The high-frequency dual tone (18,500 – 20,000 khz) is inaudible to the human ear and significantly increases battery life when compared to Bluetooth connectivity.
Using a standard CR ½ AA battery, we estimates 4-6 months of use before the need to replace the power source is required.
We are offering two almost identical models who share the same features. PICTAR fits iPhone models 4 to 6S while PICTAR PLUS fits iPhone 6 PLUS and iPhone 6S PLUS.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in the development process was how to let as many iPhone users benefit from Pictar, without making it too expensive by adding various adapters. The solution consists of two elements:
1: Wireless connection between Pictar and the iPhone using high-frequency sound waves (see separate chapter);
2: A modular mechanical connection to connect different model iPhones of different sizes. The result - Pictar fits most existing iPhone models, and is ready for future models. If any backer plans to upgrade one day to a new model iPhone - chances are that it will fit.
Tip: If you have numerous iPhones in the family, you can share Pictar without a problem by installing Pictar-Up (free) on all devices.
Can I use my iPhone cover with Pictar?
Pictar’s semi-open body design doesn't allow to connect a case while attaching the iPhone.
The only exception is the iPhone 6 / 6s that can be fitted with a silicon case - similar to Apple’s original “Silicon Case”.
And what about Pictar for Android?
The decision to develop Pictar for iPhone only was not easy, and it required a lot of thought and long discussions into the night. In the end we have our reasons:
1. Development of app and operating system: Thanks to Apple's unified OS it was easier for us to develop software for iPhone than Android, so we decided to focus the project to avoid wasting resources and valuable time.
2. The physical size - the iPhone comes in a limited number of models. Android phones come in so many different shapes, sizes and thicknesses, it was easier for our designers to develop a body that fits most iPhone models then to tackle countless Android models.
3. Focus! The Pictar project was extremely challenging - even for companies much bigger than miggo. So it was important for us to focus only on iPhones so we could come up with a production-ready prototype as quickly as possible - and make it as good as can be. Diversification on many platforms would have diverted us from our goal.
From dream to reality
Eighteen months ago, Guy - one of the miggo partners - stole two hours of breathing space between meetings in New York to travel to the Ground Zero memorial site. Guy is an avid photographer but he left his DSLR in the office, so all he had on him to document the exciting site was his iPhone. The images he was able to shoot frustrated him to the point that he decided that the next miggo project will be an advanced grip-control for iPhone photographers.
Fast-forward 6 months: the miggo team prepare first sketches and begin to formulate designs. Very quickly we realized we were looking for a grip that will provide external control of the advanced and powerful iPhone camera. The process included searching for a suitable design concept of the Pictar body - one that resembled a camera without being too cumbersome.
At the same time we carried out a proper characterization of camera features which we would like to control externally: exposure, zoom, electronic shutter release, and more. Design took shape quite quickly - we knew from the start that it would look and feel like a classic camera. We examined a large number of sketches till we finally focused on the current direction. As you can see in the pictures, the process eventually led to the final result that we really love.
The next stage was the most difficult - how to make the external buttons operate the iPhone camera without a physical connection? The easiest solution - Bluetooth - was thrown out due to its tendency to "hog" power like there's no tomorrow, from both the iPhone itself and the grip.
A surprising solution came from an engineer who worked with us - using high-frequency sound waves of 18500-20000 kHz. The idea is that each external control emits a dual frequency when operated, that isn't detected by the human ear. Frequency duplication distinguishes between the frequencies produced by Pictar and similar frequencies that exist in the environment, thus avoiding false commands.
The specialized operating system we developed receives the frequencies and translates them into an order that results in an action. The great advantage of the system is its zero power consumption. A standard CR ½ AA battery in Pictar can last for up to 6 months, with reasonable use.
The picture above shows "Albert" - the experimental motherboard specially designed to simulate what Pictar knows how to do today. Clicking on each of the five buttons activating a high frequency which controlled the camera.
While developing the voice system, we designed a dedicated app in collaboration with one of the best companies in the country. The app - free of course - offers even more control in terms of what the iPhone camera allows.
We also added straps and a padded pouch to keep everything nice and safe, and we were ready to go. So this is it - we are ready to manufacture and hope for the best. Looking back - this past year was exciting, challenging and especially intense for the development team, but the result is worth it all.
You may ask who we are and why are we here for the 3rd time?! Thanks for asking!
Frankly, we believe in Kickstarter.
We believe the crowd funding is the best way for a small and ambitious company like us to quickly and efficiently reach the people for whom we work so hard to develop breakthrough products.
We like to listen.
Kickstarter is a wonderful place to hear exactly what people think about your product - long before it reaches the market. Just think about it - this is the best, largest and most professional focus group in the world! Your knowledge is invaluable and what's really cool is that people are happy to share their knowledge and experience - to help developers like us bring to market products that might not have been developed using the traditional way.
These are just some of the reasons we're here for the third time. This, and the adrenaline rush the campaign gives us, after so much hard work developing a product that we totally believe in.
We were here 2 years ago with our strap&wrap - the world's first camera strap that morphs into a compact protective carrier. The campaign raised 400% above target and our young company received a huge infusion of energy to continue developing innovative products.
A year ago we were back again with agua - an ipx3 storm-proof quick-draw camera holster - this time we raised 800% of what we asked for, with only 2000 amazing backers. It gave us a lot of confidence and resources to continue.
In the 3 years that miggo has been around, we have developed over 10 new products with Kickstarter, and these products have been successfully sent to all backers and are also sold in over 30 countries around the world - in four different continents.
Dear Kickstarter backers,
We've come back to ask for your support again - help us bring Pictar to production and lend us a hand in changing the world of photography.
Please join us by supporting Pictar or sharing this page with your friends and family. Any help will be appreciated for ever!
Risks and challenges
We're not novices and our team has decades of collective experience in the development and production of complex products. Precisely because of this reason, we know that unexpected delays sometimes happen during manufacturing. To minimize risks, we have taken the following actions:
1. We are assisted by a British engineering company which is a leader in its field in Europe. The company specializes in bringing products similar to Pictar to manufacturing stage, so we can ensure Pictar will enter production without a flaw.
2. We secured an agreement with a leading European-owned manufacturer located in China, with a wealth of experience and a proven track record in the field of plastics, metal and delicate electronics.
3. Our schedule takes into account unexpected delays, and the financial target we have set allows us to produce, pack and ship Pictar orders without any problems, so we are confident we can meet our commitments.
4. In addition, this is the third time on Kickstarter and we have an impeccable reputation. In our two previous projects we successfully delivered to 100% of our backers - a total of over 3,500. In both cases, the reactions were excellent. So we are confident in our ability to successfully stand by our obligations.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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