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The best iPhone lens kit: Put a little DSLR on the front of your iPhone

Dave Johnson | July 1, 2014
Looking to outfit your iPhone's camera with an external lens or two? Dave Johnson put five lens kits to the test to figure out which one reigned supreme.

ipro hardware

Thanks to the ubiquity of our smartphone cameras, we're all taking more photos than ever. But those photos are largely confined to the iPhone's one-size-fits-all, somewhat wide angle lens; gone are the days when most of us were willing to schlep around an SLR with multiple lenses, or even a single bulky zoom lens. You can recapture some of your SLR's interchangeable lens flexibility, however, with a set of add-on lenses for your iPhone. We've rounded up 6 of the most popular options and put them to the test: Here are our recommendations.

iPro Lens System: The best glass for DSLR-quality results
Some lenses attach directly to the iPhone; others work in conjunction with a custom case. iPro's Lens System is an example of the latter—after you slide your iPhone into the sleek two-piece sleeve-style case, you attach the lenses via a bayonet mount that is secured with an easy quarter-turn of the lens.

We especially like iPro's clever solution for carrying the lenses. Rather than storing them in some sort of case or bag, they screw together into a cylinder that you can hang around your neck. It also doubles as a handle that screws into the case, which you can use as a monopod to stabilize your photos. You can even mount the case on a real tripod.

The basic Trio kit ($229) comes three lenses: a 2X telephoto, super-wide angle, and macro lens. You can also purchase additional lenses, such as a powerful 4x tele and a 165 degree wide angle. Notably, iPro is the only company that calls attention to its glass. Specifically, the lenses are made with Schneider Century optics, a staple in the film industry, and the quality is obvious. When compared side by side with images from the other lenses in this roundup, iPro was the sharpest. Compare, for example, any of the fisheye lenses: Fisheye is hard to do well, and iPro came the closest to DSLR-quality results.

Olloclip 4-in-1: Your best value, but no telephoto
When it comes to sheer convenience, Olloclip ($70) takes the prize with its brilliant 4-in-1 lens kit. There's no case to mess with; this lens adapter simply clips over the top corner of the naked phone—though as a result, you can't use any sort of case while using Olloclip. (The company does make its own custom plastic case if you like to protect your iPhone and use the Olloclip regularly.)

To save space, the Olloclip has lenses on both sides of the clip: You get a wide-angle or fisheye lens, depending upon which way you point the kit, and unscrewing the wide-angle lens reveals a macro underneath (at both 10X and a 15X magnification). Olloclip has the strongest macro lens available for the iPhone, but no telephoto magnification.

 

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