An often repeated cliche is that the best camera is the one you have with you. The MyMiggo Pictar 1 camera grip for smartphones hopes to amplify the adage and make it the only camera you’ll ever carry.

Pictar 1 Tech Specs – via MyMiggo.com

  • Ergonomic body with modular iPhone attachment system
  • Anti-slip grip
  • Multi-state shutter button (focus and exposure lock/shutter release)
  • Zoom ring
  • Selfie button
  • Exposure compensation wheel
  • Smart wheel (pre-sets modes / programmable / manual mode)
  • Nine pre-set modes: auto, manual, shutter priority, ISO priority, sport, macro, selfie, video, filters.
  • 1/4-inch, 20 standard tripod socket
  • Cold-shoe mount
  • Pictar App (download for free from App store)

Design and Ergonomics

Pictar-Product-Shot-2

Built to add a secure grip when taking pictures with your phone, the Pictar 1 adds a familiar wedge to your phone’s back to make it easier to compose and snap photos with one hand. The Pictar camera grip is more than just a half-case with a superficial wedge, the grip adds a functioning shutter button, zoom dial, exposure/shutter speed wheel, and function mode jog dial, all within reach of your thumb or forefinger. It’s a decidedly intuitive design that mimics the ergonomics of a simple point-and-shoot camera.

While it all feels great in hand, we found that the plastic feel of the Pictar 1 left us wanting a bit more especially when you consider that Pictar 1 requires removing your phone’s case in the non-Plus model and will only support a thinner case on the Plus. If you’re apprehensive about going “naked,” the Pictar camera grip will not be for you. While the design of the grip does offer some protection to the phone, the top half of your phone is left exposed. Sure, with an included wrist strap and the added grippiness that the device provides there’s a less likelihood that you’ll accidentally drop the phone, it’s still something that should be considered when using the device. Another design point that should be mentioned is that this will add significant bulk to your phone. While most compatible phones are thin, rectangular slabs of metal and glass, the Pictar adds at least a couple of inches of thickness to your phone’s profile. If you’re hoping to keep your phone pocketable, this case will make that a near impossibility. Still, if you’re looking to use your phone with a standard tripod or add a microphone or LED light, the Pictar camera grip helps open up these options to you without having to buy adapters or heavy/expensive equipment like gimbals.

Shooting With the Pictar 1

Having the option of using various cameras and lenses means figuring out what to pack on any given day. Even the lightest of go-bags seems to weigh us down because we’re typically packing a camera body and lens along with everything else in our backpacks. For this review, we ditched the bag in favor of only carrying around the Pictar 1 and the MyMiggo Splat – a flexible tripod that can be confidently placed on a tabletop, rocks, bench, or any stable surface (even or smooth is optional).

Pairing the device with our iPhone 7 Plus and Galaxy Note 9 was merely a matter of downloading the app and sliding the phone into place. Once paired and in place, it’s a matter of choosing the scene mode that makes the most sense for what you’re hoping to capture. We found that for the most part, the Pictar is super simple to use – if you’re unsure of which settings to use, switch into Auto. Need to capture fast-moving subjects, turn the jog dial to the Sports mode icon, and so on. If there’s a point of improvement we’d like to see, it’s that there were times where the wheel and the app response time was off.

While not necessarily a deal breaker, we found that this created a long enough delay where we either missed a shot or could not recompose in time. We’d like for a future version to work out this kink and make the mode dial a little more “clicky” to prevent accidental changes. Another potential pain-point has to do with the screen – it can be difficult to see the screen when shooting in daylight, but MyMiggo appears to have addressed this with the upgrade model, the Pictar Pro.

Conclusion

Being known for writing camera reviews usually means that friends and family will come to us with the following set up and question: “I’m going on vacation and need to buy a camera, what should I get?” Truthfully, the best camera for travel these days is the one you carry around with you day in and day out. The Pictar 1 helps you get some of the tactile controls that many people look for when they consider buying a camera without sacrificing the size convenience and the ability to instantly share that your phone allows for. Also, if you’ve been considering shooting simple videos with a phone – DIY, vlogging, or simple one-camera setups – the Pictar gives your smartphone much-needed expandability. The standard 1/4-inch – 20 thread allows you to bring your existing tripod (or you can pick up a cheap one on Amazon) to add support to your phone. The cold shoe mount can be used to attach a mic or light to your phone to improve everything from audio quality to providing a portable lighting solution.

While the Pictar 1 won’t replace a DSLR (don’t worry, no smartphone can for now), it will allow you to add some of the functionality and expandability that you’re looking for when you consider buying your first camera. We can’t recommend the Pictar 1 for everyone that’s looking for something better than their phone, but will probably be a better buy for your annual vacation than buying a cheap DSLR that’s going to collect dust every other day of the year.