A super-wide angle, telephoto and macro look at Schneider Optics' iLens Pro System
When it comes to accessory lenses for the iPhone, most people think of the wide variety of lenses made by Olloclip. There are a number of other manufacturers who are jumping into the iPhone lens world, making everything from cheap $10 clip-ons to the $229 iLens Pro lens kit from Schneider Optics I'm reviewing today.
The iPro Lens System consists of a macro lens, a super wide angle lens, and a 2X telephoto. Keeping the lenses safe during travel is a three-segment case that also serves as a handy grip tripod for taking photos or video. Your iPhone 5/5s slides into a case with a tiny bayonet mount onto which the lenses are placed.
As you can see from the photos in the gallery, the super wide angle lens really does give you a lot more coverage. As with most lenses of this type, however, you will see a lot of barrel distortion around the edges of the image. My suggestion for taking wide-angle photos? Just use the built-in pano function of your basic iPhone camera, or even better, use an app like Sphere to capture a 360 degree spherical image of your location.
The 2X telephoto lens is really quite good. I was really happy with the close-in photography I was able to accomplish, and the lens seems fairly fast as the images are beautifully bright.
As for the macro lens, I was pretty impressed. Although the image the lens didn't produce the extreme magnification possible with the Olloclip 3-in-1 Macro Lens Kit, it was quite accurate and distortion-free across the frame of the picture with just a small amount of pincushioning. In other words, it's perfect for those closeups that don't need a huge amount of magnification.
I like the grip/case, as it provides a sturdy, comfortable knurled grip to hold onto. There are two non-standard tripod screw mounts on the case, each of which connect to a screw on the top end of the case.
Now the big question -- is this lens kit really worth $229? To be honest with you, I'm not sure I see that much of an advantage of this kit over the $170 combination of the Olloclip 3-in-1 ($70) and Telephoto with circular polarizing lens ($100).
Both offer a similar range of lenses, however the Olloclip simply slides onto a "naked" iPhone, and doesn't require a special case. On the other hand, the iPro Lens Kit offers a much more convenient case for the lenses that doubles as a hand grip, the lenses seem to be a bit faster than those provided by Olloclip, and the distortion levels are a bit lower.
Whatever lens kit you end up with, realize that all things considered, you're still shooting photographs with a mobile phone. A set of lenses attached to an iPhone is no match for a DSLR; realize that, and you'll probably be quite happy with whatever you select for your photographic endeavors.
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