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Carson Hookupz 2.0: Get Photos and Video Through Your Optics

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If you’ve ever looked down your spotting scope at a huge buck, through a night vision device at a midnight-rooting hog about to become BBQ, and thought “My buddy ain’t gonna believe this”, then you might have experimented with various ways to kludge an iPhone in front of the eyepiece and snap a photo or video. So too if you've ever wanted to capture YouTube slow-mo video of your tightly-grouped target.

It's a lot harder than it sounds. You’ll be chasing the two lenses around to attempt an in-focus image while holding the phone, all to get a half-obscured, off-center, shadowed photo.

I’ve tested a number of Android and iPhone cases made to line up the camera with an optic. Most are simple, hard-plastic phone cases with a circular tube on the other side made to slip over a spotter’s eyepiece. This has left me with a drawer full of obsolete iPhone cases that also only happen to fit scopes I no longer own.

Having a universal, adjustable fit on the phone side of an optic adapter is a must in the ever-changing world of cellphone sizes and case variations. Having the adjustability on the optic side to swap from a spotting scope, PVS-14, a thermal optic, etc., is just icing on the cake. There have been a couple attempts at such a tool, but I’ve found most of them to slide off the eyepieces, or – worse yet — incapable of fitting phablet sized cameraphones at all. From the larger Samsung Galaxy 7 to the iPhone 7/7+, whether the camera is in the corner or in the center, there really aren’t too many ways to get the pieces to fit.

Carson, a longtime player in the optic and adapter world, just fixed this issue.

Photo 2 Nightvision with Hookupz
The Carson adapter fits night vision as well as spotting scopes.

Carson Hookupz 2.0: Get Photos and Video Through Your Optics

This is Carson's next generation in Smartphone Optics Adapters, the HookUpz 2.0. They say it will allow you to “…connect your smartphone to your preferred optic; binoculars, monocular, spotting scopes, telescopes, microscopes, borescopes, slit lamps, night vision and more, so you can digitally record and capture everything you see through your optical device and share instantly via text, email or on social media.”

Photo 3 Celestron with Hookupz Sequence 2 Photo 4 Celestron Without Hookupz Sequence
Focus the scope, then slide on the adapter with your cameraphone, and start taking video or photos.

Pulling one of these out of the box, you’ll note that it sure doesn’t look like a hard phone case with a tube poking out of it. It’s weird looking. And once you pick it up and operate it, you realize why this is one of the best approaches on the market today. The patented HookUpz 2.0 is designed to accommodate all the popular smartphones on the market, including the larger sized phones and phablets—even with their cases on. This unit was tried with a Lifeproof NUUD case for iPhone 6+, as well as a couple of the excellent Magpul phone cases.

Attaching the Hookupz 2.0 to your phone is a matter of sliding open the lock that holds the phone in place vertically, popping your phone into it, and twisting the adjustment dial to bring the camera to center horizontally. Once the phone is mounted into the adapter, four green (glow in the dark!) jaws open with a squeeze and when released, clamp down tightly on your optic’s eyepiece.

Photo 5 Mounting Adapter

On most units I’ve used this is the weak link – they slip. If you’re trying to get horizontal video (as you should, because vertical video is a faux pas up there with using Comic Sans fonts in your YouTube video titles), the heavier phones cause lesser adapters to lose grip on the eyepiece, leaving you with a drooping unit – and gentlemen, you don’t want that.

Carson’s locking phone clamp and optic cam lock ensures a tight grip to both phone and optic. It fits a wide range of optics, as long as their outer eyepiece diameter is between 25-58mm. When the Carson adapter came in, we raced around the office to find items to try the Carson out on. We quickly scared up a compact Celestron Hummingbird Spotting Scope (which by the way is freaking tiny, and deserves a hard look for hunters and spotters that want to keep things lightweight and small in their packs), then a trusty old Leupold Kenai Spotting Scope, and later a couple sets of PVS-14 Night Vision Devices. Everything fit, and grabbed well. Once the adapter’s grip is squeezed, the four jaws open, and slide over the eyepiece. You have to be certain to get the system flat and level so there’s no egg shaped aperture issues. From there, you slide the phone back and forth horizontally with the alignment screw to tweak the camera and glass into symmetry.

Photo 6 Scop and Hookupz Mounted Close up

You may find that you lose some light-gathering ability, and therefore resolution, at night, a simple result of having an optical sandwich of stacked lenses in front of the camera that aren’t usually meant to be there. During daytime hours, however, it’s quite easy to get good sharpness and resolution; the serial numbers on a dollar bill were easy to read at 50 yards even with the Celestron Hummingbird, via a large phone screen with some zoom (this test approximating what you might have at a target range).

The photos below were shot at 480 yards with the iPhone 6+ (shown from full in-camera zoom to no zoom), and the Celestron spotter set at max zoom, all using the Carson Hookupz adapter.

Photo 7 Comparison 480 yards DSLR No Zoom Photo 8 Comparison 480 yards scopes and hookupz

As an aside, it’s important to focus the optic first, and then lock the phone’s autofocus, because having the phone bouncing around while you try to work the scope’s dials is very hit or miss. It’s also helpful to use the trigger of the phone’s headphones, if equipped, to snap the shutter, so you aren’t wiggling the phone as you’re taking the photo.

Photo 9 Headphones Used to Trigger Photo

Otherwise, just dial in the scope’s focus by eye like you normally would, then mount the adapter. From there, zoom the phone’s magnification if needed to fill the screen. Then start taking video or photos and immediately Instagram, tweet, or email that stuff to your heart’s content.

PHOTO 10 Social Media Oversharing

The HookUpz 2.0 comes in a handy little hard foam carrying case to store when not in use. It has an MSRP $89, with street prices hovering around $59.00.

If you want to see a well-done little commercial from Carson showing it off, watch this:

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