Extra iPhone rigs jazz up its camera

— -- There may be an iPhone 5 waiting in the wings, but that hasn't stopped Kogeto founder Jeff Glasse from preparing to release in the coming weeks his Dot accessory, which slips over the iPhone 4 to provide a 360-degree view on videos and photos.

With more than 125 million iPhone owners, there's a huge and growing market for Dot and others.

Dot proposes to turn the iPhone from a cool camera that happens to be in your pocket to one that starts to resemble professional equipment.

But Kogeto isn't alone in courting iPhone users.

Photojojo, a photo accessory site, offers a $249 DSLR connector to hook lenses from your digital SLR directly to the iPhone.

Then there's Owle's Bubo steadicam setup that makes your images steadier and has the tools to attach a wide-angle lens. It's one of many similar grips, which are most noticeable in videos.

Camera accessories are a slice of the iPhone accessories market, which is estimated to be a $500 million category for 2011 by researcher NPD Group.

"People love their iPhone. It's the digital Swiss Army knife of our time," says Glasse. "I can chart my boat from the iPhone, use it for GPS in the car, as a book reader. … And for many people, it's now their primary camera."

Here's a closer look at some of the many iPhone camera accessories:

•Kogeto's Dot costs $79. Glasse recommends putting the iPhone with the Dot on a table at a party to capture everything in a different way.

•Photojojo's iPhone SLR Mount lets you attach Canon or Nikon lenses over your iPhone for moody shots that throw the background out of focus or dramatically zoom in on the action.

Tip: Once it's attached to the iPhone, everything will look weird — or upside-down. To fix, you'll need to download the $1.99 Almost DSLR app.

•Owle's $150 Bubo camera mount fits over the iPhone, giving photographers a nice grip on all sides of the camera for a steadier, more stabilized image and a wide-angle attachment that goes over the camera for a wider view of the world.

•Zacuto, best known for its line of rigs for DSLRs, has a line of steady rigs for the iPhone as well, starting at $121.

The Point N Shoot Grip, for instance, sits the iPhone horizontally across a pistol grip to provide steadier shooting.

•ZoomIt Memory Card Connector solves the problem of a full iPhone memory card and no time to delete.

The ZoomIt lets you slip its attachment into the iPhone's 30-pin connector, adding an SD memory card. This can boost iPhone memory instantly.

•Gary Fong, a photographer who makes lighting accessories, has two iPhone 4 tripod connectors. His $19.95 adapter slips the iPhone 4 onto a tripod, while the $39.99 Flip-Cage model is a little platform for sticking the iPhone on a surface such as a table for eye-level group shots.

Terry White, a prominent photography blogger and co-author of TheiPhone Book, has seen many of the rigs out there and prefers the ones that steady the image.

"There's no way I'd get the Photojojo DSLR mount," he says. "If you're going to attach a lens to the iPhone, then you might as well carry a DSLR. Because the iPhone is going to be really heavy, and you lose the advantage of having a light camera that happens to be in your pocket."

The steadying camera rigs and their tripod mounts let you get into the shot for a family picture and give you a better image for video, providing advantages, he says.

White, who often lectures on photography, says the iPhone is always his camera of choice when on the road. "If I pass by something in the moment, I pull out the iPhone, not my DSLR. It's just easier with the iPhone."

The iPhone camera became commonly used with the release of 2010's iPhone 4, which offered a sharper camera than previous versions, with a 5-megapixel sensor, up from 3 megapixels on the previous model.

For the iPhone 5, expected to be introduced in October, the camera is expected to jump up a few more notches, to one with an 8-megapixel sensor.

"A lot of Android cameras have 8 megapixels," says White. "That's really the standard now, and Apple has to catch up."