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Padcaster iPad case review: Case helps take iPad videography to the next level

This case helps turn an iPad into a mobile video-recording studio and can double as a digital SLR cage.

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Joshua Goldman
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Joshua Goldman

Managing Editor / Advice

Josh Goldman helps people find the best laptop at the best price -- from simple Chromebooks to high-end gaming laptops. He's been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software for more than two decades.

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3 min read

The Padcaster is one of those accessories that pushes the Apple iPad beyond what most people do or would think of doing with it.

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Padcaster iPad case

The Good

The <b>Padcaster</b> iPad case goes beyond being a simple tripod mount, letting you attach other crucial video production accessories to its frame. Separate mount for attaching lenses. Can also be used with digital SLRs.

The Bad

The case is a snug fit, which is great, but can make it difficult to get an iPad in and out quickly.

The Bottom Line

If you're serious about producing videos with an iPad, the Padcaster is a must-have case.

For however ridiculous it may seem to some people, plenty of iPad owners use them to take pictures and shoot movie clips. Not everyone wants or needs to produce professional results, but that's just what the Padcaster makes easier.

So, no, this case isn't for everyone, but if you use an iPad to shoot and produce Web video, it's a perfect fit. And, while its $149 price might seem steep, you get more than just the case and it can be used for more than just recording video with an iPad.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Basically, the Padcaster is a two-piece iPad case made up of an aluminum frame with a removable urethane insert. Though the insert is flexible, it fits tightly around an iPad, so there's really no chance of it accidentally falling out.

The outside of the sturdy aluminum frame is lined with 1/4-20 and 3/8-16 threaded holes for attaching lights, an external mic, or other camera gear. Just attach your camera in the middle and surround it with your favorite accessories.

With a bunch of accessories attached you'll probably want to use it on a tripod or some other support, but the frame is wide enough and heavy enough to stand on its own for shooting or viewing. Plus the size and weight of the frame makes handheld shooting more comfortable, giving you a better, steadier grip.

Sarah Tew/CNET

For those who feel limited by the approximate 35mm focal length of the iPad's lens, the Padcaster comes with the Lenscaster, an add-on bracket with a 72mm threaded mount for attaching lenses. A 72-to-58mm adapter is included, too, as well as a cold-shoe adapter, two 1/4-20 screws, two 3/8-16 screws, and a custom camera mount screw (more on that later).

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you simply want a wider or longer lens, there are inexpensive adapter lenses you can attach, such as the Vivitar wide-angle adapter in the picture above. If that's not good enough for you, you can attach a 35mm lens to the case, though getting it to work correctly isn't easy and you'll need at least a depth-of-field adapter. But, if you're after a shallow depth of field for your iPad videos, it is possible and there are instructions (and warnings) on the Padcaster site on how to set it up.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apps, such as Filmic Pro for full control of the iPad's video capabilities and Pinnacle Studio for editing, and accessories like the Apogee Jam (pictured above) for connecting an external mic are what transform an iPad into a mobile video production lab. It's the Padcaster that brings them all together, though.

Jeff Foster

Lastly, for anyone who shoots video with a digital SLR, you can remove the flexible urethane insert and the frame can be used as a dSLR cage. Just mount your camera in the center and you can start attaching whatever accessories you need around the outside of the frame.

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