Henri Cartier-Bresson, god of street photography, would have loved the iPhone camera. But he might have been frustrated with its ergonomics -- how are you supposed to capture "the decisive moment" quickly, spontaneously, and artfully when you're pecking at a featureless screen with your index finger while fumbling to keep the camera steady? The designers at Beep Industries had the same concern, so they created Red Pop: a giant red shutter button for your iPhone.
How can you capture a moment quickly, when you're pecking at a screen?
I'll admit that when I first glanced at Red Pop, I didn't really see the point. Are cameraphone ergonomics that bad to require augmenting it with a whole separate piece of equipment? But then I remembered the last time I took a decent picture with my phone, compared to my point-and-shoot Canon S90: somewhere around the fifth of never, I think. The virtual "shutter button" is fine for popping off what I call "utility pics" -- visual notes and reminders, funny faces with friends that you'll delete the next morning, et cetera. But when you feel like actually making a photograph -- even just a quick self-portrait for your blog -- it's a royal pain. And something like Red Pop suddenly seems like a godsend.
Luckily Red Pop's designers put a lot of thought into making it worth the trouble to use. It's slim and rounded, small enough to barely notice in a large pocket or messenger bag, and it won't look stupid attached to your precious iPhone. When you feel like you're in the mood to get photographically creative, you just pop it on the end of your phone and poof: now you can hold and use it like a proper camera, snapping pics effortlessly one after another with that big red button, focusing on your composition and timing rather than the physical mechanics of getting the shot. When you're done playing shutterbug, just pop it off and go back to normal -- but if you want to answer a call or quickly Google something while you're shooting, the Red Pop doesn't obscure any of the iPhone's screen or buttons.
Red Pop is currently just a prototype seeking funds on Kickstarter. But let's face it, this little gem has a lot more chance of becoming a reality soon than some of the other ambitious next-gen digital cameras we've seen recently. Like the Red Pop's designers say: buttons are beautiful. So do the right thing and help 'em out.
[Click here to donate to Red Pop's Kickstarter Campaign]