Friday, September 17, 2021

The Best Lenses for iPhone Photography

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In case you’re searching for a severe instrument to amp up your smartphone movies and photographs, we advocate Second’s Anamorphic Lens. We discovered it to be perfect in this class after testing 70 smartphone lenses over 5 years whereas touring the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, and the French countryside. For extra informal smartphone shooters, we even have an extra budget-friendly decide, the Criacr 3-in-1 Lens Kit.

Second, ’s 1.33x Anamorphic Lens may give your smartphone movies, and photographs, and extra cinematic look with attractive horizontal flares—one thing that even the newest three-camera iPhone can’t do but. For avid smartphone shooters involved in high-quality outcomes and a well-designed mounting system, Second lenses are definitely worth the funding. In contrast to cheaper plastic lenses, which might barely degrade your photos, Second’s lenses use massive glass optics that create sharp photos with little to no distortion throughout the complete body.

And whereas we nonetheless advocate Second’s Wide 18mm Lens and Tele 58mm Lens, these might not really feel as essential when you have a more moderen iPhone with three built-in lenses. The Wide 18mm Lens expands your iPhone’s subject of view simply sufficient to really feel like a contemporary perspective (about 0.63x magnification). The 2x Tele 58mm Lens doubles the optical zoom of your iPhone’s lens without degrading the picture high quality like digital zoom can.

Utilizing these lenses requires a further buy, the Moment Photo Case. Mounting and unmounting lenses on this case gives the smoothest and best expertise among the many lens methods we examined—you simply twist the lens in or out, just like doing so on a DSLR—and the lenses stay firmly hooked up. The Second circumstances are so protecting, trendy, and straightforward to make use of that we didn’t thoughts maintaining them on, even once we weren’t utilizing the lenses.

Appropriate telephones: Apple iPhone 7 via 12 sequence; Samsung Galaxy S9 via Galaxy S20/S20+/S20 Extremely and Galaxy Note8 via Observe20/Observe20 Extremely; OnePlus 6/6T, OnePlus 7 Professional; and Google Pixel/Pixel XL via Pixel 4

The Criacr 3-in-1 Lens Kit set stands out from comparable clip-on choices as a result of its large lens (0.6x magnification) supplies a helpful subject of view that goes past what your smartphone can seize without veering into the fish-eye territory—just like a GoPro action camera. Every one of the three lenses, which features a 15x macro lens and a 180-degree fish-eye lens, will be securely saved inside a three-compartment carrying case with a wrist strap. When it comes to picture high quality, these lenses are a noticeable step down from any Second lens, with some blurring all through the body. The clip-on mount will be simply bumped inflicting additional picture high-quality issues, however, these lenses are an enjoyable and inexpensive strategy to experiment with previous to committing to a dearer setup, they usually work along with your front-facing selfie digicam.

Compatible phones: Clip-on ought to match most smartphones.

Why you must believe me

I’m a photojournalist, an author, and a professional photographer, and I have a variety of expertise researching, testing, and writing about images traits, strategies, and instruments—together within my function as a mobile-imaging editor at DPReview.

I’ve been researching and writing about smartphone lenses for this Wirecutter information since 2015, and I’ve examined dozens of fashions alongside the best way. I’ve additionally learned up on each advisable smartphone lens attachment we’ve discovered on the web and thought of what extremely revered assessment websites corresponding to TechRadar, The Phoblographer, CNET, and Fstoppers have needed to say. And we’ve requested mates with numerous ranges of smartphone-photography prowess what they need out of such an attachment.

Who that is for

Smartphone lens attachments are helpful to anybody who’s making an attempt to get extra out of their cellphone’s built-in digicam(s). Like switching lenses on a DSLR or mirrorless digicam, they will change up your perspective to be wider or extra zoomed in than the fastened lens of your iPhone, or a different suitable smartphone, permits. The photographs aren’t all the time good, leading to distortion, blurriness, shade shifts, or the entire above, however relying on your supposed use, these drawbacks could also be completely tolerable.

Most individuals fall into considered one of two classes of smartphone photographers: the fanatic who makes use of their cellphone’s digicam simply as critically and steadily as they’d some other digicam of their arsenal, and the extra informal snapshot shooter.

Cell-photography and videography lovers ought to take into account higher-quality lenses which can be heavier and dearer however produce distinctive outcomes. Utilizing lenses corresponding to these, you get lots of the imaging capabilities of an affordable point-and-shoot camera, with the acquainted interface, mobility, and connectivity of your cellphone.

In case you take into account your self extra of an off-the-cuff smartphone shooter, a greater possibility is likely to be to decide on a plastic lens combo to up your Instagram recreation without making bigger funding. Plastic lenses don’t ship the superior sharpness of dearer glass fashions, however, they do provide an enjoyable strategy to increase your cellphone’s images capabilities with totally different focal lengths.

Lastly, if you happen to’re a primary smartphone shooter or a beginner and also you’re simply searching for an enjoyable image toy to experiment with, an affordable clip-on lens set is a good start line. The lens high quality of such a set can’t examine with that of spendier fashions, however, the outcomes ought to suffice for social media sharing.

How we picked

An assortment of smartphones with camera lenses attached.

As Apple continues to enhance the iPhone with higher and extra cameras, including a large or telephoto lens attachment could seem much less essential if you happen to’re utilizing one of many fashions with a built-in large, ultrawide, and telephoto lens. However anamorphic lenses have to turn into extra standard not too long ago as a strategy to give your smartphone movies that ultrawide cinematic look, with cool results like lengthy, horizontal lens flares throughout the display screen, which even the iPhone 12 Professional Max can’t do. With increasingly more lens makers leaping into this more and more aggressive market, we took a search for the primary time this yr at how smartphone anamorphic lenses examine.

For this replacement, we used an iPhone XS, which has a wide-angle lens with a set focal size of about 26mm, in addition to an iPhone 11, which gives each a 26mm wide-angle lens and a 13mm ultrawide lens.

We’ve caught to the identical standards we’ve utilized over the 5 years of updating this assessment to type the great from the unhealthy:

  • A lens addition shouldn’t trigger important distortion (warped objects or altered perspective) or a vignette (darkening on the edges of the body). Nonetheless, fish-eye lenses are designed to distort deliberately.
  • The lens must be simple to connect and take away, and extremely moveable. If aligning the lens along with your smartphone’s digicam is tough, attaching the lens to its accompanying case takes too lengthy, or the lenses are an ache to take alongside, you gained hassle.
  • If a case is required, it must be protecting and enticing sufficient so that you can use it day after day. Or it must be really easy to use and take away that you just don’t thoughts doing so. For instance, we dismissed numerous circumstances that seemed like sci-fi film props and have been additionally tough to take away.
  • If a lens system requires a separate lens attachment, it must be moderately priced. After upgrading to a brand new cellphone, you must be capable of preserve utilizing the identical lenses without spending an excessive amount of extra.
  • A dependable producer is preferable. We seemed for firms with a confirmed monitor document and a wide array of fashions.

How we examined

Utilizing the above standards, we narrowed our listing of lenses to about 90 smartphone lens attachments, seven of which we included in our hands-on testing for the late-2020 replacement of this information. Since 2014, we’ve toted essentially the most promising candidates round Seattle, testing them in some typical capturing conditions. We’ve stuffed our backpacks with them and put them to work whereas climbing within the Cascade Mountains. We’ve introduced them alongside on an epic summertime street journey to see the Grand Canyon, taken them sightseeing in France, and packed them in our seashore bag on Maui. In 2020, we used each an iPhone XS and an iPhone 11 in our testing.

The number of testing circumstances allowed us to see how the lenses carry out in actual life, serving to us decide not simply how they carry out photographically but in addition how handy they’re for capturing on the go. After each testing spherical, we rigorously assessment the outcomes to find out which fashions are acceptable, and we take into account this additional hands-on expertise in reaching our last conclusion.

Ours decide: Second Anamorphic Lens

The Moment Anamorphic Lens and a carrying pouch

Moment’s 1.33x Anamorphic Lens is our best choice for severe smartphone shooters, particularly if you happen to shoot loads of video, due to its excellent picture high quality paired with an outstanding mounting system utilizing the corporate’s enticing, moveable circumstances.

Anamorphic lenses produce a wider, cinematic really feel to each video and photograph, without the distortion of a wide-angle lens. Like watching a film on the massive display screen, photos really feel extra dramatic. Lens flare from the solar or an automobile’s headlights extends into a protracted beam of sunshine, and bokeh, the mushy out-of-focus lights in the background, tackle a curious oval form, attributable to

horizontal lens parts and an ovular aperture contained in the square-shaped lens.

Without getting too technical, an anamorphic lens works by squeezing extra of a scene into video and stills. Because of this, you’ll additionally have to digitally “de-squeeze” your photos and video afterward, or we advocate Second’s Pro Camera app when capturing with the Second Anamorphic Lens. By choosing the lens throughout the app, photographs and movies are mechanically “de-squeezed” and saved to the digicam roll (to be exact, the ultimate photos could have a wider ratio of two.40:1 as a substitute of a typical 16:9).

We examined each of the blue and gold flare variations of Second’s Anamorphic Lens and located the picture high-quality sharp total. We did desire the marginally hotter tones of the gold model, however, the variations are refined.

Second’s glass lenses are heavy in contrast with other smartphone lenses however simple to make use of. You’ll positively discover their weight in your hand and in your pocket—at 1.eight ounces, the large lens weighs as a lot as two AA batteries—however, the stable mounting system and superior optics are value the additional weight. Whenever you’re not utilizing these lenses, they’re simple to stow in a bag or pocket as a result of everyone comes with a snug-fitting lens cap to guard it against mud and scratching in addition to a small drawstring microfiber bag, which will also be helpful for wiping off smudges. You may also depart a lens hooked up and toss your cellphone into your bag or again pocket; in our testing with the most recent lenses and circumstances, the lens stayed on and so did the lens cap.

Along with paying for the lens, you additionally must buy a case from the corporate—such because the Moment Photo Case we utilized in our testing—to make use of that lens. The lenses connect to the Second case utilizing a bayonet mount, just like how a lens attaches to a DSLR. In dual- or multi-lens iPhone fashions, the lenses mount both over each lens, the first lens solely, or over suitable lenses, relying on the iPhone mannequin. The second makes use of a case mounting system in an effort to correctly heart its lenses in the entrance of (and to place them on the optimum distance in the entrance of) your smartphone’s digicam. (Second additionally sells an aluminum lens mount body that screws over simply the highest part of your cellphone, however, we expect the case gives higher safety to your cellphone and can preserve the lens from being jostled as nicely.)

The Second case feels snug and easy within the hand, with sufficient rubbery grip on the perimeters to maintain your cellphone safe. A case-mounted system additionally makes it simpler to proceed to utilize your Second lenses once you improve your cellphone; a brand new case is an inevitable buy with every new cellphone, however, Second’s glorious monitor document of rapidly releasing new circumstances for brand new cellphone fashions means the glass ought to work with the subsequent technology of your machine. The second helps iPhone fashions from 7 to 12, plus Google Pixel, OnePlus, and Samsung fashions.

In case you’re prepared to take a position additional in cell images, the Second gives extra equipment than any of its opponents, from two– and four-lens carrying circumstances to wrist and neck straps to cases that include a shutter button with half-press performance when paired with the Second app. The second additionally sells a filter mount that allows you to use 67mm threaded filters, corresponding to a circular polarizer, UV, or neutral density, with any of its lenses. All of this persevering with innovation is reassuring if you happen to’re seeking to spend money on a system that’s altering quickly.

Flaws however not dealbreakers

The preliminary buy-in price of about $150 for the anamorphic lens and $40 for a case makes the Second one of the crucial costly lens methods we examined. It’s additionally a sign that this can be an instrument for severe images lovers. In case you rely on yourself in that class, we expect you’ll conclude that the standard of the Second system justifies the fee.

The two. The zero model of the Second large lens is bigger than its predecessor, and extra glass can imply an extra alternative for solar flare, which we noticed from time to time. A well-placed hand might suffice in lieu of a lens hood.

As with practically the entire lenses we examined, you may use your cellphone digicam’s flash when utilizing the Second system, because the lens attachment covers it up.

Budget pick: Criacr 3-in-1 Lens Kit

A Criacr lens set on a white background

The Criacr 3-in-1 Lens Kit is a stable alternative if you happen to’re not able to decide on a dearer, case-based lens accent system and aren’t overly involved about picture high quality. The equipment includes a 0.6x wide-angle lens able to delivering a large subject of view that we discovered extra helpful than those included in comparable lens kits, which have been both ineffective or so large that they veered into fish-eye territory. A 15x macro lens and a 180-degree fish-eye lens additionally come contained in the intelligent three-compartment carrying case with a wrist strap, with the color alternative of black or rose gold. You’ll be able to match every lens over the front-facing lens or rear lens(es) of your cellphone—and the clip-on mount will even work with some slim cellphone circumstances.

The Criacr equipment is enjoyable and inexpensive, however by way of picture high quality, it doesn’t stack up nicely towards the glass optics from Second: You’re prone to discover some blurring and distortion on the fringe of the body, and in our checks, we generally noticed darker corners. However, possibly these refined flaws aren’t a significant concern for you if you happen to’re simply seeking to jazz up your Instagram story with some new angles.

For cute, informal snapshots, the clip-on Criacr 3-in-1 Lens Equipment is an enjoyable and cheap strategy to experiment with the chances of cell images. Picture: Erin Lodi

When screwed into the clip-on mount, every lens and clip combo is in regards to the dimension of a set of keys and slips simply right into a pocket when not in use. Every lens comes with a snug-fitting plastic lens cap, however, we advocate maintaining the included lens fabric with you for eradicating mud and smudges whilst you’re capturing. Every lens could also be saved in its personal part of the three-compartment carrying case, which is in regards to the dimension and weight of a bottle of nutritional vitamins.

These clip-on lenses match the iPhone and most different manufacturers of smartphones, and they’re going to seemingly match the subsequent generations of these gadgets as nicely. (In fact, cellphone designs that place the cameras away from the sting of the cellphone, such because the Motorola One Zoom, might put their cameras out of attaining of that clip-on equipment.) In case you’d prefer to share these lenses between a few telephones or tablets in your family, this versatile equipment works with fairly a couple of totally different gadgets.

The Criacr clip on lens in the foreground of a green outdoor setting

A clip-on lens just like the Criacr can even match over the front-facing lens of your iPhone, producing an extra-wide view for selfies that may seize extra of your environment. Picture: Criacr

We discovered that the Criacr lenses match with some thinner smartphone circumstances (corresponding to our pick for the best iPhone case), however not with the entire skinny circumstances we tried. In case your present case doesn’t work with the Criacr lens set, we advocate investing in a skinny case to make use of whilst you’re capturing with this lens clip-on; including a brand new case is all the time cheaper than changing your cellphone.

These sort of clip-on lenses are vulnerable to slipping out of place and off the cellphone solely. With cautious placement, they’re an enjoyable strategy to experiment along with your iPhone images, however, you do danger ruining your photos with darkish corners and blurring if the lens is bumped even barely.

The competitors

In a previous model of this information we advisable Second’s Wide 18mm and Tele 58mm lenses, though if you happen to’ve already bought a spendy three-camera iPhone, shelling out $120 for one more lens might really feel pointless when your new cellphone seemingly has the wide-angle and telephoto views that these lenses have been designed to permit. These lenses delivered a few of the crispest and clear photos in our testing, with little or no distortion and no noticeable darkening of our photos’ corners, so in case your smartphone doesn’t have a super-wide lens, or if you happen to assume you want an extra zoomed telephoto view, these are nonetheless an excellent alternative.

The Moondog Labs 1.33x Anamorphic Lens with Bayonet Mount could be very sharp throughout the body, and in our testing, generally even sharper than Second’s Anamorphic Lens. However whereas our prime decide snugly turns into place on a case particularly designed for that lens system, the Moondog Labs lens features a dial to regulate its placement on any suitable bayonet mount case (the Second case is considered one of their advisable circumstances), and that dial is straightforward to bump whereas capturing and mounting and unmounting, affecting the lens alignment.

We stay impressed by the sharpness of Bitplay’s wide lens, and we loved the ergonomics and bodily shutter button of the newest Snap case. This combo prices are practically identical to Second’s system, but Bitplay doesn’t provide the identical form of longevity and product choice behind the model and appears to be a bit behind on providing a case for the newest version of iPhone, whereas our prime decide had a suitable case for pre-order nearly instantly.

We cherished that the Ztylus Revolver M Series Lens Kit included a wide-angle/telephoto, macro/super-macro, and fish-eye/telephoto combo in a protecting cellphone case, nevertheless it seems like this mannequin is now out of inventory and the corporate isn’t providing any new variations for the Telephone 11 sequence or any iPhone 12 fashions.

We’ve beforehand advisable Black Eye’s Pro Cinema Wide G4 as a cheaper different to Second’s wide-angle lens, although we didn’t like Black Eye’s slick and onerous plastic case.

The most recent lenses from ShiftCam are heavier and bigger than the competitors and really feel unbalanced when mounted to the corporate’s low-cost plastic case. The awkward sliding mounting plate that you need to use to attach the lenses to the case doesn’t make sense. So despite the fact that the worth is significantly decreased than that of the Second system and the picture high quality was terrific in our checks, the ShiftCam combo itself is tough to make use of.

Lemuro gives a classy tackle to a smartphone lens system, with a wider array of cute circumstances than you’ll discover from many of the competitors. However, the optics aren’t as crisp because of the design aesthetics, despite the fact that this technique is pretty just like the Second system is worth.

Kodak has entered the smartphone lens environment with a set of clip-on lenses and different equipment, however in an already oversaturated market stuffed with such attachments, we expect the Ciacr set is a more sensible choice with dependable picture high quality for the worth and the bonus storage/carrying case.

Sandmarc’s wide and telephoto lenses delivered sharp photos with little distortion in our checks, however, they will compete with Second’s high-quality case and bayonet-style mount. As an alternative, Sandmarc lenses include a skinny, onerous plastic case and a screw-on mount that makes it tough to place the lens on and take it off rapidly. We consider getting a greater attachment system is value spending a bit extra.

We don’t assume the Olloclip Fisheye/Super-Wide/Macro Essential Lenses combo is definitely worth the worth. The lenses connect by way of a redesigned clip that doesn’t work nicely with a case—even the most recent Olloclip case. We couldn’t pair the lenses with the Olloclip case without seeing some vignetting, so we needed to take away it. We discover newer iPhones extra slippery than ever earlier than, in addition to dearer, making it riskier than ever to make use of a lens system that requires you to take away your protecting case out of your cellphone.

Olloclip’s bigger Super-Wide Pro Lens and Telephoto Pro Lens additionally use the identical clip attachment that slides excessively of your cellphone, however, can’t work with a case. Nonetheless, these professional lenses don’t include the clip mount, so the worth will get fairly steep for a single lens plus a clip that you should buy individually. We even have a tough time recommending any accent that requires you to make use of your cellphone and not using a case.

The Sirui 18mm Wide Angle and 60mm Portrait lenses seem like shut opponents to Second lenses at about half the worth. Nonetheless, these heavy lenses require a clip attachment, and in our expertise, a heavy lens mounted by way of a clip makes the cellphone really feel off-balance and is straightforward to knock off-kilter (proprietor evaluations verify this expertise with Sirui lenses too). Sirui doesn’t but provide a case for the most recent iPhones (such because the iPhone XS we utilized in our testing), nevertheless, it does have one for the iPhone X, and a few reviewers say Sirui lenses match the Second case. Nonetheless, at that time, you’ve already crossed the $100 mark—and at that threshold, we might moderately spend money on a system like Second’s, which has a bit extra historical past, an extra sturdy choice of fashions, and a quicker response time in updating its equipment for the newest iPhones.

Ztylus’s set of bigger Z-Prime lenses features a telephoto, a wide-angle, and a macro lens, plus a lens mount. You’ll be able to regulate the metallic lens mount by screwing it in to tighten it, besides, it stays inclined to being bumped out of alignment. We needed to take away our case for the lens mount to suit over the cellphone. A Ztylus case with a lens mount is out there for a further $20, however, in our testing, the lenses proved too heavy and allowed for gentle leaks. The lenses are considerably bigger than Second lenses, too, as they’ve screw-on metallic lens caps that appear unnecessarily heavy. And the set’s hard-plastic rear lens cap feels destined to be misplaced.

Whenever you’re looking online, you will discover loads of low-cost lens-attachment choices, a lot of which proceed to be the finest sellers on Amazon. However recognition doesn’t equate to high quality, and in our analysis, for this information, we dominated out loads of contenders that seemed promising however didn’t ship enough outcomes. As with most small tech gear, you will discover a number of firms promoting what seems like equivalent merchandise on Amazon. Though these things could be identical and are seemingly sourced from identical unique producers, the manufacturers reselling them can differ within the stage of high-quality management and buyer help they provide. Once we encountered seemingly equivalent fashions in our analysis, we took worth, evaluations, and the model’s monitor document into consideration.


  1. Daven Mathies, Moment Anamorphic lens transforms your phone into a cinema camera, Digital Trends, October 29, 2018

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