Nowadays almost every cell phone comes with a digital camera, which makes it easy to snap a picture and quickly share it with friends and family. Currently, one of the most popular phones is undoubtedly the Apple iPhone, which in its latest incarnation comes with a whopping 8-megapixel camera, an LED flash, and an HD video camera that supports recording at 1080p at 30 frames per second. These features alone stack up well with most digital compact consumer cameras. Schneider Optics recognized the potential to take the iPhone even further by adding exchangeable lenses to the camera.
I first read about the iPro Lens system in the news section of a photography magazine. Unfortunately, the description was brief and seemed more like a marketing text, though I have to admit, the idea of adding a lens to my iPhone 4 sparked my interest. On a mission, I contacted Schneider Optics and ordered one.
When I received the package, the first thing I noticed was the clean and sleek Apple-product packaging. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like unpacking one of the late Steve Jobs’s creations is half the fun, and I feel like a little kid on Christmas morning.
The iPro Lens system includes a case, two lenses, a handle/lens case, and an instructions pamphlet. My goal was to take it on a tour with me and see how it performed for motorcycle photography—motography.
The case is made from a hard plastic composite and is quite rigid. It took a bit of force to get the iPhone into the case, which made me feel uneasy at first, but after putting it on and taking it off a few times I got used to snapping my phone into place. On the left and right side of the phone are small bolts that can be used for attaching the accompanying handle. Overall the case appears to offer protection, though I have not purposely dropped my phone to test it. One downside of the case is that it slides fairly easily on slippery surfaces, which I quickly noticed when I briefly placed the phone on my motorcycle seat. Some rubber parts could have helped increase the friction of the case.
The iPro Lens system comes with two lenses—one wide-angle and one fisheye—that can be attached securely to the case right over the rear camera on the phone. Though it didn’t impact my picture-taking of scenery during the tour, the flash cannot be used when the lenses are attached.
During the first stop of the tour, all bikes lined up beautifully for some test photos without prior coordination. (I have to mention this because every other time we take a break, the bikes are parked all over and it’s a mess.) With the iron horses ready to smile for a picture, I took three photos from the same position with and without the lenses to create a comparison.
I was very impressed by the wide-angle lens because the increased field of view (35 percent, according to Schneider Optics). This lens comes in handy in tight spaces and is great for scenic shots. Usually one of the shortcomings of this type of lens is the picture gets distorted and fuzzy on the outside. However, in the pictures I took I do not notice any distortion, and the fuzziness is limited to the very edges of the left and right sides. Given the price of the lens, its performance is quite outstanding.
After further analyzing the pictures on the computer, I noticed that some have a faint green spot near the center that stems from light reflection through the lens. This side-effect may be light-condition specific, and again can be seen with wide-angle lenses.
The fisheye lens creates an artistic picture of subjects and is best used in close-up shots. The iPro Lens variety does an acceptable job. A lot of the photo real estate is taken up by the black border of the lens. To my surprise, when I switched the camera to video mode, the dark vignette disappeared and I had a blast filming a dynamic clip of all the bikes with some close-up. I will find a lot of uses for this lens for making some exciting videos.
Given the little space I often have on the bike, I enjoyed the efficiently designed handle that doubles as a lens holder. The handle screws into the left or right side of the case, and can provide more stability when taking pictures or shooting a video. If needed, it can also be used as an adapter between the phone and a tripod. (I have also found good use for the handle when talking on Facetime or Skype.)
The iPro Lens System is a neat add-on for any iPhone user who likes taking photography to the next level. I enjoyed the wide-angle lens for taking photos, and the fisheye lens is a must for easily making a cool video. This new toy has definitely found a new home in my tankbag.
iPro Lens System by Schneider Optics