The idea of professional-quality camera add-ons for the iPhone might seem silly, but there's definitely a market for stuff that pushes the camera beyond its inherent limitations. And that's how you get the Tiffen Steadicam Smoothee.
The original Smoothee was announced in 2010 (we tested the mount for the iPhone 4/4S) and it works like the larger professional Steadicams, which use counterbalance weights to stabilize your camera while it's in motion. And as anybody who's shot video with the iPhone knows, moving with it while shooting -- let alone running or jumping -- can result in some potentially nauseating and unwatchable video. Use the Steadicam Smoothee, though, and that all changes.
However, it's not as simple as attaching your iPhone, pressing Record, and having your videos come out smooth. You can certainly pick it up and start shooting with it out of the box, but using it effectively takes some practice. Then some more practice.
It comes with the bare minimum of instructions, too, which doesn't help; for the most part all you get is information about how to attach your device and how to hold it. On its site, Tiffen has a four-part video series on how to control the Smoothee, but it would've been nice to have more of this information in the box.
The balance is very delicate by design and the base floats so freely that when you first use it, you might think you're doing something wrong. Controlling it is done with light pressure from your thumb and forefinger placed on the collar that's just above the swivel and below the base. Grip it too firmly and you lose the effect, too lightly and it might wobble and spin out of control.
There are two, small red knobs for adjusting tilt -- one for forward and backward and the other for left and right -- which can be used to level your shot or purposely tilt them for creative effect. A sliding weight on the curved bars in front allows you to adjust the balance as well.