Review: Miggo Pictar iPhone Photography Case
July 13, 2017
The app contains plenty of settings that go well beyond what the stock iPhone camera app is capable of.
All of the Pictar's filters are adjustable via a slider (cranked to the max here for illustrative purposes). Notice on the right side, however, that the UI elements on the app are all but unreadable.
Few devices have transformed photography like the iPhone. It has contributed to an unprecedented explosion in picture taking while simultaneously helping to tank the market for traditional cameras.
For all of the iPhone’s photographic impact, the experience of shooting with a smartphone still leaves a lot to be desired, particularly when it comes to the ergonomics of the device.
Miggo’s Pictar aims to fix that.
It’s an iPhone case that offers traditional camera controls–shutter button and dials–that work in tandem with a companion app to, in Miggo’s somewhat awkward phrasing, “DSLR your iPhone.”
The Miggo is available for the iPhone 4 on up. The case is able to control all of the iPhone’s camera settings via tiny audio signals that get picked up by the iPhone mic. Using the Pictar you can adjust all of the iPhone camera’s available settings, including ISO, shutter speed, white balance, flash, digital zoom and focus. There are five physical controls in all.
Beyond camera control, the case has a cold shoe so you can mount a tiny LED plus a tripod mount on the bottom. There’s also a detachable wrist strap. The Pictar case does have its own battery but no on/off switch–it’s always on. Miggo says you can expect between 4-6 months of battery life.
What We Liked
Having tactile control over your iPhone camera takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’ve acclimated to the Pictar, it’s hard to give it up. For instance, the shutter button behaves like a typical camera shutter: a half press locks focus and exposure and a full press snaps a photo.
All of the controls are customizable. If you don’t like the default controls, you’re free to remap them. There’s also zero perceptible lag when using the controls. The app’s user interface is easy to navigate, though sometimes the settings (which are presented in white) can be tough to read in bright sunlight.
The Pictar has a mostly plastic build that’s very lightweight and the hold is quite secure. You shouldn’t worry about your iPhone sliding out.
What We Didn’t
Our iPhone didn’t exactly glide in and out of the case fluidly. It was often difficult to get it in as the clamping mechanism on the bottom takes some prying to open and close smoothly.
Once it’s nestled in the Pictar, you don’t have access to either the lightning port or audio input. Not surprisingly, the case also adds a fair amount of bulk to the otherwise slender iPhone. Once we fitted it to our iPhone 6 Plus it could no longer slide seamlessly into the pocket of our jeans or shorts.
Miggo is also a bit stingy with the filters. When we first downloaded the app, you had a nice assortment of filters to choose from with a few extras locked away as in-app purchases. More recently, Miggo moved all but two filters behind the paywall.
If you treat your iPhone like a serious camera, the Miggo is a worthy accessory. For just $100-$110 it delivers familiar tactile controls, an intuitive UI and plenty of options for customization.