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Modahaus stands up for iPhone photography

A new accessory maker expands from tabletop studios to a photo stand for phones and point-and-shoots. It's geared for practical and artsy types.

The Modahaus Steady Stand 200
The Modahaus Steady Stand 200 is designed for phone or point-and-shoot photographers. Modahaus

Sure, you could buy an expensive new camera to improve your photos.

But here's what I like about a small new company called Modahaus: its accessories let you take better photos with the camera you already have.

The company popped up in June with a compact, relatively affordable set of tabletop studio products. And this week, it launched a another accessory, the Steady Stand 200 for taking photos looking straight down, in particular for those taking shots with an iPhone.

The products aren't going to make it any easier to capture your daughter's quinceanera or the company's holiday party. But for those who want to take photos of stationary objects for reasons of art, archiving, or e-commerce, the Steady Stand looks solid.

At $53, including shipping from U.K.-based Modahaus, it's not cheap, but it does take care of some hassles that crop up for people trying to do the same thing with a tripod.

It's really easy to gauge a camera by a few easy-to-notice attributes--megapixels or maximum ISO sensitivity, for example. But often it's not a digital camera's image sensor that makes the difference. Good lenses on an SLR make a world of difference, and David Hobby of Strobist" fame has shown how much inexpensive lighting can add to photography.

Product inventor, professional photographer, and Modahaus founder Lex McColl sees three main markets for the product:

• People who need photos of products--jewelry artisans, crafters, e-retailers, auctioneers etc. • People who need photos of flat originals--digitizing and preserving old family photos, copying clippings from a book or magazine, copying documents and receipts, etc. • Mixed media artists--artists capturing images of found pieces, visual references, collages and capturing their finished work.

The Steady Stand is simply a perch that puts your camera 20cm above whatever you set it on. It comes with its own washable white background for a clean image. The walls of the stand are translucent plastic that diffuse the light, cutting down on distracting reflections and lighting the subject evenly.

The Steady Stand's case, the folding "smart wallet," doubles as a base for operations.
The Steady Stand's case, the folding "smart wallet," doubles as a base for operations that can help minimize reflections on shiny jewelry. Modahaus

Although it's designed for iPhones in particular, set up to align the phone easily with the hole for the camera lens, it works with other phones or with point-and-shoot cameras, too, as long as the lens is less than 65mm in diameter. For details on how it works, there's an online guide.

Photo enthusiasts gravitate toward SLRs for their flexibility and image quality, but they're overmatched for a lightweight, foldable stand like this. But let's face it--camera phones are ever more likely to be the phones people have on hand, and feature ever higher image quality. And plenty of amateur photographers use point-and-shoots.

McColl sees a budding movement to see just how far iPhone photography will go--he calls the concept. And certainly there are interesting examples of what can be done. Fx Studio, maker of iOS photo apps, is attracting a lot of entries for its International iPhoneography Show.

Heck, there are whole photography movements based on crummy Holga cameras. Why not with phones that are selling by the million, too?

The Steady Stand 200 fits neatly on Modahaus' tabletop studio products.
The Steady Stand 200 fits neatly on Modahaus' tabletop studio products. Modahaus