New iPhone Telescope Adapter – SnapZoom – Part 2

I’ve got a few more nights of experience with the SnapZoom under my belt, so I wanted to provide a little update.  If you missed part 1 of my review of the SnapZoom, you can check it out here.  On to the details…

As I mentioned in part 1, the SnapZoom will likely take a little upfront adjustment depending on your phone model.  This isn’t too tough, but it does require a small screwdriver.  Once you get it set though, you can leave it.  After that, it’s super easy to use.  Just clamp in your phone, then clamp over the eyepiece or binocular eyecup.

The SnapZoom seems to work especially well with binoculars.  The clamp is meant to fit over two eyecups, so you get a really stable connection.  With my Celestron SkyMaster 15 x 70 Binoculars, having the eyecups flipped up puts the adapter at a perfect focal distance to get a nice full image on the phone.  With the eyecups flipped down, the attachment puts the camera at an incorrect relief point.

So, the SnapZoom is really fun and easy when working with binoculars.  However, with the skies clear the past few nights, I gave it a spin on my Celestron Advanced VX 6in Newtonian Telescope.  Unfortunately, I ran into a few challenges here.  They were minor, but noticeable nonetheless.

The clamp mechanism works great for holding a phone (minus a minor challenge of occasionally squeezing the volume buttons).  It also works great for clamping onto the two eyecups of binoculars, but when clamping onto a single eyepiece it isn’t quite as robust of a connection.  I started out using my 20mm eyepiece, which has a nice long section of tube to grab onto and a big field of view.  It’s generally the easiest eyepiece to start hooking an iPhone up to.  The SnapZoom definitely has some bulk to it, and depending on the orientation of my scope, I noticed the weight of the SnapZoom plus my iPhone would just slightly tilt the adapter.  This made it tough to always get the full field of view right onto the camera sensor.  Even when I got it just right, any tapping of the screen to make adjustments would tend to tilt it.  I could see this definitely being less of an issue with a refractor or Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope based on the angle of the eyepiece.  With a Newtonian or Dobsonian though, the SnapZoom will want to swivel down to a portrait view, rather than its typical landscape view.

Other than this minor issue, the SnapZoom is a very nice adapter.  My only other complaint is that the screw mechanisms aren’t necessarily the easiest things in the world to feel out and control in the dark.  For an iPhone 6 Plus or other phablet-sized smartphones, I think the SnapZoom is probably going to be your best bet.  However, for smaller sized phones, I think I’ve found an even better option…stay tuned for that review!



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