Digital Camera & Gadget Reviews, Sample Images, New Releases, Special Deals and Photography Tips
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
iPhone Lenses Review, Product Photos and More
Cool New Gadget in 2012: iPhone Lenses *article courtesy of WIRED magazine
The best camera is always the one you have with you, and lately
that means your phone. These add-on lenses will up your mobile photo
Why do I need an aftermarket lens for my iPhone?
With a five-element f2.4 lens grabbing light for its CMOS sensor, the
iPhone 4S is a true 8-megapixel camera that rivals many
point-and-shoots. One thing it's missing, though, is an optical zoom,
which would require a telescoping lens. The iPhone's 5X digital zoom can
get you in a bit tighter — walking closer is still the best solution —
but it can't go any wider.
What's the difference between digital and optical zoom?
Digital zooms crop the middle section of what the sensor sees and
then enlarge it to fill the frame; image quality degrades noticeably.
Optical zooms use telescopic elements to magnify the image before it
reaches the sensor. Results depend on the quality of the glass, but
optical will always trump digital.
How do these lenses attach?
The lenses in our review use cases, clips, and threaded mounts to fit
over the built-in iPhone lens. The low tech approaches may have some
Apple engineers cringing, but even the worst lens here handles
photographic situations that the iPhone can't on its own. How that lens
attaches is probably the most important factor to consider.
Wide-angle lenses are a smart addition. They're small and portable
and make it possible to shoot in confined spaces like cars and
restaurant booths. We're less excited by the telephoto options. Those
heavy lenses generally require a tripod or some other means of
stabilization. Besides, holding an iPhone up to a good pair of
binoculars works just as well.
Olloclip - $70
The Olloclip is built for the immediacy of smartphone photography,
with three distinct glass lenses tucked into a compact package that
slaps onto the corner of your iPhone without so much as a screw twist.
On one side is a fish-eye lens for tight spaces like elevators and diner
booths. On the other, there's an 18-mm-equivalent wide-angle. Unscrew
that one to reveal our favorite lens in this whole test, a 10X macro
that essentially lets you photograph what you'd see through a magnifying
+A must-have for Instagram addicts. Attaches in seconds. The most versatile lens set in the test.
- Doesn't fit over protective bumpers or cases.
Turtleback TurtleJacket SLR Mount - $250
The TurtleJacket is as practical as a snowplow on a Mini: It takes 10
ounces of aluminum for you to use your Canon or Nikon SLR lenses on
your 5-ounce iPhone. (We tested the Canon version with the
depth-of-field kit.) Yes, the TurtleJacket lets you shoot decent images,
but it effectively ruins everything that's cool about an iPhone camera —
sleekness, convenience, and portability. Also, since the iPhone doesn't
have a mirror to correct the SLR lenses' inverted images, you'll be
composing your photos upside down.
+Enables use of high- end lenses to control depth of field. Turns your phone into a self-defense bludgeon.
- Images inverted on your screen. Manual focus only — and it's not easy. Costs more than the base-level iPhone.
Photojojo Telephoto Lens - $35
This inexpensive plastic add-on performed surprisingly well. With its
8X zoom (roughly 200 mm), it let us reel in subjects from 50 yards away
without degrading image quality. We wouldn't expect it to last very
long, given its flimsy construction. But for shooting kids' soccer
games, it should work well enough. If you can avoid cross-threading the
plastic mounting threads, they seal well enough into the included bumper
case (not shown) to prevent light leaks. More annoying is the fussy
manual focus that needs to be dialed in before the iPhone's autofocus
can lock onto your target.
+Great price. Fast-and- loose aesthetic fits the vibe of iPhone photography. Package includes mini-tripod.
- Manual focusing. Feels about as durable as something from a gumball machine.
Schneider Optics iPro Lens System - $200
These truly high-end lenses use the same kind of coated,
low-distortion glass that manufacturers rely on for SLR lenses. Like the
Olloclip, the iPro features a fish-eye and a wide-angle. Unlike the
Olloclip, it connects via a bayonet mount to a plastic phone case (not
shown) — careful, it's hard to take the thing off without breaking it.
When the whole rig is on, the iPhone feels like a serious camera, even
though the mount means that some quality is lost between lens and
+Lens case doubles as a tripod mount.
-Phone case can be pried off only by using that tripod mount like the Jaws of Life. (We actually had to screw it in and pry.)
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