DIY iPad Camera Case With Handgrip [How-To]


Speck's Handyshell case can be quickly made into a go-anywhere camera case for the iPad. Photo Charlie Sorrel (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)
Speck's Handyshell case can be quickly made into a go-anywhere camera case for the iPad. Photo Charlie Sorrel (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

The new iPad makes a great photo studio. It has a 5MP autofocus camera, lets you adjust exposure separately (with a third party app like Camera+), has image stabilization and — like no other camera — has a huge range of editing apps to choose from and use right there in the field.

It is, however, very awkward to hold in one hand while you tap the screen with the other. You end up either almost dropping the thing, or taking a picture of your thumb, or just giving up.

I expect to see camera-friendly cases in the near future. Until then, though, I decided to hack together my own from a discarded iPad case from Speck. And amazingly, it turned out pretty well.

The case is the Handyshell for iPad 2, which fits the iPad 3 just fine. It’s a plastic shell-style case with a rubber lip around the edges, and a sturdy loop of a handle on the back which can be set at any angle and is held tight by friction.

The strong hinge holds the handle at any angle. Photo Charlie Sorrel (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

It makes a great case for using at home, but when Cult of Mac’s esteemed deputy editor and me first saw the case at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, we dismissed it because there is no way to attach a Smart Cover. This makes it practically useless, because there’s no way to carry it safely.

It also makes a handy stand for, ah, standing

The answer came in the form of an X-Acto knife. I lined it up against another Speck rear shell case I own, and measured the cutout for the Smart Cover along its left edge by holding both face-to-face. A few nicks with the X-Acto marked the ends, and a metal rule helped put a straight line between them.

It's amazing what you can do with a very sharp knife, a straight edge and a bottle of bourbon. Seen here is a bourbon-free result (less bloody). Photo Charlie Sorrel (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

And that is it. Well, almost: If you’re feeling fancy, you can glue a metal washer over the camera hole on the case to attach magnetic iPhone lenses (which I did, but it fell off). The resulting case is one that is still slim and light, lets you rip off the Smart Cover so it doesn’t flap around when shooting, and also has a handle works as a multi-angle stand.

You probably wouldn’t want to leave it on all the time, but if you know you might be taking some pictures, it’s still more convenient than carrying an extra camera with with you.