iPhone becomes a reliable light meter with Lumu Power [Review]

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Lumu Power light meter
Is that an iPhone or a light meter? It's both.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Lumu Power light meter for iPhone

The iPhone democratized photography and disrupted the video and camera industry. Now a new product that plugs into the iPhone’s Lightning port aims to replace an important photographer’s tool — the handheld light meter.

The Lumu Power light meter is a small, plug-in photodiode that looks like a pingpong ball cut in half. The light meter, a product of Lumu Labs from Slovenia, rose out of a Kickstarter campaign in 2015. It’s won favorable reviews from photographers and photo websites as the company works to improve the companion app.

Pistol grip helps get your photography on target

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The Grip&Shoot steadies a smartphone photographer's shaky hand.
The Grip&Shoot steadies a smartphone photographer's shaky hand.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Best List: Grip&Shoot Bluetooth smart grip for photographers

Nobody likes a blurry picture. And while smartphone snappers might think they don’t miss a viewfinder, holding an old-school camera close to the face allowed photographers to use their arms against their torsos to steady things.

With a smartphone, which is held out in front of our bodies, there’s far more risk of shake and blur. Luckily, the Grip&Shoot is a simple solution that will steady the hand.

We’ve found 6 products that’ll turn your photography from faux to pro [Deals]

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The Lytro is the first consumer lightfield camera, turning photos into living moments to be explored
The Lytro is the first consumer lightfield camera, turning photos into living moments to be explored
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Everyone’s a photographer these days, or at least that’s what people would have you believe. Making images that have impact takes more than a camera-phone — it takes special gear, knowledge, and skill with photographic hardware and software. We’ve got all those bases cover with these six deals, from lenses to lessons, cutting-edge cameras and powerful photo apps. Check them out now — these deals might disappear before you can say ‘cheese’.

Best List: Gear that will take your adventures over the top

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WaterField Designs' Bolt briefcase is not for hoarders who want to carry every infernal gadget with them everywhere they go. Like the impossibly thin new MacBook, it's stripped down to the essentials — and the essentials are stylish, sturdy and compelling.


The $249 Bolt will surprise you with its slimness. It comes in two sizes — the small one I tested holds up to a 13-inch MacBook Air (the larger model holds up to a 17-inch laptop). After sliding in an 11-inch Air, an iPad and an envelope full of documents, the Bolt was fairly full; there was barely room to toss in a pair of headphones. 


But that's the point of the Bolt. It's designed for carting around your must-have gear in a sleek, pleasing package. The brown waxed canvas bag looked good out of the gate (and even better after a few trips gave it more character). The chocolate leather accents, including a thick bottom that's perfect for keeping grime at bay, seem like they will only look better over time.


The craftsmanship employed by the San Francisco bag maker is evident from the first zip of the Bolt's hefty, waterproof zipper or the first flip of the

WaterField Designs' Bolt briefcase is not for hoarders who want to carry every infernal gadget with them everywhere they go. Like the impossibly thin new MacBook, it's stripped down to the essentials — and the essentials are stylish, sturdy and compelling.

The $249 Bolt will surprise you with its slimness. It comes in two sizes — the small one I tested holds up to a 13-inch MacBook Air (the larger model holds up to a 17-inch laptop). After sliding in an 11-inch Air, an iPad and an envelope full of documents, the Bolt was fairly full; there was barely room to toss in a pair of headphones.

But that's the point of the Bolt. It's designed for carting around your must-have gear in a sleek, pleasing package. The brown waxed canvas bag looked good out of the gate (and even better after a few trips gave it more character). The chocolate leather accents, including a thick bottom that's perfect for keeping grime at bay, seem like they will only look better over time.

The craftsmanship employed by the San Francisco bag maker is evident from the first zip of the Bolt's hefty, waterproof zipper or the first flip of the "snaps" that close the front pockets. (They're not really snaps: They look like snaps, but in reality they're magnets that effectively hold the pockets shut but are 1,000 times easier to work than your typical closure.)

A leather-faced pad on the removable shoulder strap boasts a grippy, rubberized back that keeps the Bolt from sliding around. And speaking of not sliding around, the simple pass-through on the back of the Bolt is perfect for sliding the petite bag over the handle of a piece of carry-on luggage.

If you go from a backpack to a Bolt, you will undoubtedly miss all that extra space for cramming in jackets, water bottles and half-eaten sandwiches. But, like a decluttered house, the Bolt's wonderful minimalism will grow on you. — Lewis Wallace

Buy from: WaterField Designs

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac


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Best List: Killer gear for iPhone lovers, bike riders and ax wielders

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I want extra pockets without having to wear goofy cargo pants. So while perusing one of my favorite guy websites, Everyday Carry, I came across a little bag made by Koyono called the bolstr bag.

It's perfect for tooling around Chicago, allowing me to discreetly store a phone, iPad mini, notebook and point-and-shoot camera. Plus, its slim design and asymmetrical shape look way cooler than knee-level flapped pockets on either leg.

The bolstr small carry bag comes in a variety of colors and left- or right-side orientations (as a lefty, I appreciate this design consideration). — David Pierini

Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac


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Best List: Hot gear for the dead of winter

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Trying to find air for your tires in San Francisco can be a nightmare. Half the pumps are broken at any given time and if you do locate one that works, you'll need to feed it a bunch of quarters if you're not buying gas. All of that makes keeping your tires properly inflated a royal pain in the butt — unless you have your own source of pressurized air.

If you don't own or need a regular air compressor, the PowerStation PSX-2 is a great way to keep your tires pumped up. It's not lightweight, but the 20-pound rechargeable tool is still totally portable and will get your rubber ready for the road far more quickly than the typical 12-volt gadgets you plug into your cigarette lighter. 

Oh, and did I mention it will also jump-start your car or motorycle when your battery's dead? And provide an emergency worklight and 12-volt DC outlet to charge your gadgets in a pinch? Yeah, it's super-useful in situations that otherwise might stress you out.

Costco members might find a PSX-2 in the automotive aisle for about $75; otherwise, Amazon's got a newer model PowerStation PSX-3  for $129. Buy one now, before you need it, and you (and your thankful neighbors) will find yourself leaning on this automotive lifesaver repeatedly. — Lewis Wallace

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Trying to find air for your tires in San Francisco can be a nightmare. Half the pumps are broken at any given time and if you do locate one that works, you'll need to feed it a bunch of quarters if you're not buying gas. All of that makes keeping your tires properly inflated a royal pain in the butt — unless you have your own source of pressurized air.

If you don't own or need a regular air compressor, the PowerStation PSX-2 is a great way to keep your tires pumped up. It's not lightweight, but the 20-pound rechargeable tool is still totally portable and will get your rubber ready for the road far more quickly than the typical 12-volt gadgets you plug into your cigarette lighter.

Oh, and did I mention it will also jump-start your car or motorycle when your battery's dead? And provide an emergency worklight and 12-volt DC outlet to charge your gadgets in a pinch? Yeah, it's super-useful in situations that otherwise might stress you out.

Costco members might find a PSX-2 in the automotive aisle for about $75; otherwise, Amazon's got a newer model PowerStation PSX-3 for $129. Buy one now, before you need it, and you (and your thankful neighbors) will find yourself leaning on this automotive lifesaver repeatedly. — Lewis Wallace

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac


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Give your iPhone superpowers with this ingenious optical attachment

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The Carson Universal connect smartphones to almost any optical device. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
The Carson Universal connects smartphones to almost any optical device. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
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LAS VEGAS — Your iPhone captures great imagery, but sometimes the built-in zoom just isn’t enough. An ingenious gadget that quickly connects smartphones to almost any optical device gives your everyday camera superpowers.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 The Carson Universal is an incredibly simple idea, but it delivers some pretty astonishing results. You can use it to connect your smartphone to telescopes, binoculars, microscopes, spotting scopes or almost any other optical device with a rounded eyepiece. Instead of buying a specialized, device-specific adapter, it’s a one-size-fits-all optical attachment.

“It kind of opens up the possibilities,” said Michelle Hyers, the engineer who designed the Carson Universal.

Trek-worthy gifts for outdoor adventurers

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Hit the outdoors with these gift ideas. Photo: Christian Arballo
Hit the outdoors with these gift ideas. Photo: Christian Arballo/Flickr CC

Going gear-shopping for your favorite outdoors-loving friend or family member can be harder than trekking up Mount St. Helens as she’s about to blow. There are so many options, but so much crap.

To help you out with your holiday shopping, Cult of Mac waded through the endless lists of camping and hiking gear and gadgets to find the stuff your special someone will love.

Whether you’re looking for something for an adventuring buddy, or picking a present for someone you’d never want to be trapped in a tent with, we’ve found gifts for everyone. From hiking clothes to campsite gadgets, we’ve got you covered.

Snappgrip iPhone camera grip fails to deliver on great idea

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The wrist strap is the best part of the Snappgrip. Photos Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
The wrist strap is the best part of the Snappgrip. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Snappgrip is a fantastic idea, with not-too-bad hardware to back it up. It’s an accessory grip for your iPhone that adds a Bluetooth shutter release, zoom buttons and control dial to the phone’s camera, as well as a wrist strap and a handy handgrip.

But in practice, you’ll be better off with the iPhone’s own volume switches if you want a hardware shutter release. Which is a shame, as I was super-excited to try the Snappgrip out.