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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.

The case has three tripod mounts and a "shoe mount" on top, designed to accommodate Smart Phocus accessories like an LED light and microphone. While we appreciate the expandability, these small cut-outs make it difficult to reach controls. The power button, for example, is all but impossible to access. And it can be challenging to extract the phone from the case when you're done.

While we wanted to like the Smart Phocus, we can't recommend it: The case suffers from good intentions and bad implementation. The lenses are huge—twice the typical iPhone lens, at 2 inches in diameter—but that didn't really help image quality, and the telephoto lens suffers from significant vignetting, much like IZZI's lenses.

Moreover, the lenses are difficult to use. The threads can be difficult to line up correctly, and we worried constantly about stripping them. Removing the macro/wide angle combo is an exercise in frustration; the macro lens gets "stuck" on the case, so unscrewing the lens combo serves only to unscrew the wide-angle lens, leaving the macro behind. Getting the macro lens off is not unlike trying to get the cap off a bottle of ketchup—quite difficult and likely to cause much frustration.

Bottom line
Thanks to a wealth of innovation among lens makers, you can match the lens kit to your lifestyle. iPro has the widest range of options, especially for tele shooters who want to extend the reach of their iPhone, and the best overall image quality. For the ultimate in convenience—but still a healthy dose of image quality—slip an Olloclip 4-in-1 in your pocket. We really want to like Photojojo's fun and highly cost-effective magnet-based lenses, but there's always the question of what to do with a handful of tiny lenses when you're not shooting with them. If you have a good answer to that quandary, they're fun in a way no other lens set can match.

And if you want to get your iPhone wet while equipping it with better optics, the Optrix PhotoProX is your only choice (and a pretty good one at that, as long as you take care to mount the lenses properly).

Only the Smart Phocus and IZZI options give us some pause, with clumy cases and image quality that doesn't live up to the price tags for their respective solutions.


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