Over the years I have held digital cameras and phones up to the eyepieces of telescopes, spotting scopes, binoculars, and most often microscopes to take pictures, capture video, and stream imagery to projectors and TVs. In all cases the idea was sound and the optics were fine, but the execution needed work even when duct tape was involved.
More than a few devices were employed to assist in holding the camera in the perfect position to look down the pipe of what instrument I was trying to leverage. Some adapters worked better than others, but the perfect clamp was illusive. The best solution was often dedicated electronic eyepieces that were expensive stand-along cameras of mild resolution. What was really needed was an elegant adapter that fits all phone cameras and all eyepieces. A pipe dream of sorts if you don’t mind the pun.
Enter the Carson HookUpz 2.0. The HookUpz 2.0 is a highly adaptable adapter that accommodates smartphones of many sizes on one end and eyepieces of many sizes on the other. The HookUpz 2.0 fits eyepieces diameters from 25mm to 58mm, and holds smartphones sizes from iPhone 4 through iPhone 7 Plus and other phablets.
On the phone-side, the Carson HookUpz 2.0 uses a pincher clamp to grab the lower edges of the phone, and there is a single top clamp that complete the “three-fingered” grip on the phone. A combination course/fine screw adjusts the sideways motion of the phone in order to center the camera over a hole that is in turn the center of the eyepiece clamps on the reverse side. Here is the instructional manual for the Carson HookUpz 2.0.
On the eyepiece side, two pair of spingloaded clamps grab the eyepiece with enough strength to keep the phone still even when on on something in motion like on a pair of binoculars. The Carson HookUpz 2.0 works great with corner-placed cellphone cameras as well as those those centered in the middle of the back of the phone. There is also a optic clamp lock that is especially helpful with smaller eyepieces when using the minimum clamp spring tension.
Once the phone is in place, the camera’s zoom feature will fill the frame with the eyepiece’s field of view. You can continue to zoom in if you like to add some digital enlargement to the optical magnification of your optic. The camera’s focus and exposure should work fine as long as the eyepiece is also in focus.
Once the system is in place, you can take pictures and shoot video with surprising clarity through microscopes, dissecting scopes, telescopes, spotting scopes, binoculars, and any other tubed optic with a eyepiece within the HookUpz 2.0’s clamping range. In the off-chance that phone camera needs some space between it and the eyepiece, a spacer for just such a purpose is included. Additionally a very nice zippered hardcase is included.
As you notice in the name, the Carson HookUpz 2.0 is not the first attempt at this type of product from Carson. The 2.0 design is much better and stronger than its predecessor, but there are some excellent tips and tricks that apply to using a clamp device, adjusting the phone settings, taking pictures and video, and even using headphone/earbuds volume control as a shutter release that were popularized with prior clamps. Here’s a great video with just such “hacks” directly from Carson.
Once you get the hang of the Carson HookUpz 2.0, you can clamp-in your phone and mount it on an optic in maybe 15 seconds. Not that it’s a race, but other clamps I’ve used have required screws and bolts, case installing, and alignments before attempting to the whole contraption to an eyepiece. With the Carson the two pair of auto-centering eyepiece clamps make mounting it a snap.
Using the Carson HookUpz 2.0 can turn an individual viewing experience into a collaborative group activity. By projecting the instrument’s image onto a smartphone screen or larger, a whole new dimension of of teaching and learning opens up. Add the ability to digitally capture the imagery and the visual universe just gained yet another dimension. Modern cellphones are state-of-the-art digital cameras with incredible image processing chips and software. In fact most recent iPhones have camera chips and lenses that rival dedicated DSLR cameras in picture quality. So sharp images taken through scopes of various flavors can be blown up to very large proportions providing a post-viewing experience with endless uses.
There are many camera/phone functions, apps, and utilities that can be used including the regular camera choices of photos, video, slo-mo, and time-lapse. Video can also be used within FaceTime and other app-based video conferencing programs as well. Science oriented apps that use the camera can work magic, and the latest generations of Apple TVs can fire up the captured imagery onto screens from up to 10 meters away.
Apps such as Explain Everything (one of my favorites) allows for real-time annotation on camera-captured images, and video capture of that annotation over time with quick upload to Youtube if you like.
While there is still room for improvement with the Carson HookUpz 2.0, such as constructing it out of titanium, or at least aluminum instead of flexible plastic, or having fold-up clamps so the HookUpz would fold flat for pocket storage. Or even maybe a phone case/clamp combination for us power users. Either way, the Carson HookUpz 2.0 is one of those gadgets that once you use it, you will, pardon the pun again, be hooked.