I’ve been writing a bit lately about different smartphone adapters for both telescopes and binoculars, as this is perhaps the most essential accessory to really get going with iAstrophotography. In the past I’ve written about the Orion SteadyPix Universal Smartphone Adapter and the SnapZoom. But now, I want to discuss my new favorite iPhone adapter for both telescopes and binoculars.
The Carson Universal Smartphone Adapter is just downright awesome. In my estimation, it’s the easiest to use and most versatile adapter out there. Here’s a video to show it off:
As you can see from the video, the Carson Universal is intended to hook up to any optics. From my tests with various telescope eyepieces and binoculars, this really seems to be accurate. What you can’t really get from the video though, is just how easy it is to use the Carson Universal.
***Important Update***: There is now a version 2.0 of the Carson Hookupz Universal. I haven’t had a chance to use this new model, but it looks pretty awesome! From this video below, you can see that it’s now easier to align your camera lens in the center of the adapter. There also appears to be a new lock which will help the adapter grip onto an eyepiece.
Here’s another video showing that the Carson Hookupz 2.0 works with dual camera phones (such as the iPhone 7+).
The only downside I see to the 2.0 is that it looks to be about $15 more expensive than the 1.0 on Amazon. If I were buying my first adapter, I’d probably opt for the more expensive 2.0, as it looks to make this great adapter even more user friendly.
***End of Update***
Initial setup is significantly easier than with any other adapter I’ve tried. There are two latches that can be easily unlocked to allow your phone to slide into place. Once you have your smartphone camera in place, you tighten the clamps and lock the latches. From there, simple spring mechanisms will do the rest of the work. So far, this is the only universal adapter I’ve tested that is actually easy enough to interchange with multiple phone types out in typical observing conditions (i.e. dark and cold). Here’s a video from Carson showing the setup:
The Carson adapter is also extremely easy to get on and off your eyepieces/binoculars. You just squeeze the back spring-loaded clamps open, drop over your eyepiece, and release. Again, I can’t overstate how important this ease of use is when in typical observing conditions. This is a huge plus when you’re constantly switching eyepieces and trying to locate objects in your field of view. Here’s a pic of the eyepiece clamp triggers being squeezed to open:
The only downside I can find is that the Carson Universal Smartphone Adapter doesn’t currently support “phablet” sized phones, like the iPhone 6 Plus. Though I’ve heard that they have a new model in the works that will support these phones. For my iPhone 6 and most other smartphones, this thing is very nearly perfect. Here are a few pictures I captured the other night out camping with some friends and then hiking in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and then Julian, CA.
The Moon and Orion Nebula pictures were taken through my Celestron Advanced VX 6 inch Newtonian telescope, and the picture of the turkey vultures (I think that’s what they are?) was taken through my Celestron SkyMaster 15 x 70 Binoculars.
Overall the Carson Universal Smartphone Adapter is extremely well thought out. It has a lens spacer, which can help you find the right focal distance to optimize the image in your smartphone. It even comes with a really nice protective case and carabiner:
If you’re in the market for an iAstrophotography smartphone mount, I highly recommend the Carson Universal Smartphone Adapter. You can pick one up on Amazon for a great price. Here’s their website for additional info: Carson Universal.
P.S. I also recently checked out the iOptron Universal Smartphone Eyepiece Adapter. In short, the thought behind it isn’t bad, but it doesn’t quite deliver. It wouldn’t work with my iPhone 6 due to constantly pushing the volume buttons. It is also limited to only working with the 12.5mm eyepiece that it screws into, so forget about using your own eyepieces or binoculars. To sum it up, go with the Carson Universal or Carson Hookupz 2.0!