With smartphones becoming more and more like their DSLR counterparts, consumers are now tempted more than ever to upgrade their phone’s photography features with accessories and specially made lenses. For the past decade, iPhones have dominated this market and for good reason. With the iPhone 6 and above capable of image stabilization and shooting full HD at 60fps, it’s already starting to outclass $500 kit cameras.
Earlier this year, the lens manufacturing giant, Zeiss, teamed up with ExoLens to unveil their wide-angle, 18mm lens for the iPhone 6/6s and Plus. It’s Zeiss’s first attempt to cater to the amateur photographer, but at $200, it’s quite an investment to make for your iPhoneography.
When it comes to Zeiss, you know you’re going to get great bang for your buck in regards to sharpness and quality but when you break it down, is it really worth your hard earned cash? To answer this properly, it comes down to your actual needs as a photographer and what you’re looking for to give you that extra edge.
As mentioned before, Zeiss lenses are an exception when it comes to sharpness and overall quality but their miniaturized wide-angle lens for the iPhone delivers something unique if you love shooting photos and videos. Once you start taking photos, you’ll notice a significant difference in image quality; colors are much more vibrant, contrast is deeper, and color fringing is less noticeable. This is exceptional for landscapes and awesome for those who want to detox Instagram filters and in-phone editing.
First off, this is an 18mm lens making it pretty borderline with a fisheye. This means you’re going to get much more of your scene in a single image. That may sound like a good thing at first, but just be aware that wide-angle views can cause distortion making it less ideal for portraits yet excellent for group photos and scenery. However, if you love shooting action and sports, this lens is a godsend!
The Zeiss lens allows you to get super-close to your subject for some pretty dramatic shots. Exposure compensation is excellent to say the least so shooting in clear sky conditions and plenty of highlights won’t ruin your images with blown out skies and underexposed foreground.
Just by looks alone, you’ll get the impression this isn’t the kind of lens you want to stick on your phone permanently. It’s bulky and heavy and the aluminum bracket used to attach the lens onto your phone blocks your camera’s flash. Though the bracket itself does a decent job of securing your grip, the lens and back caps it comes with are almost useless since the caps fall off easily.
Overall, it’s a specialty lens so use it wisely and sparingly. Keep it in a small purse or backpack if traveling.
Coping with the bulk and weight is one thing, but the actual feel of the lens is solid and might come as a refreshing experience for those expecting a cheap, plastic phone lens. It also gives you the impression of something well-made and not likely to crack after dropping it a few times. As mentioned, the bracket is well suited for the ergonomics of the iPhone 6 but the screw mount is a bit of a nuisance since it doesn’t allow for a quick and easy installation.
As a photographer, there’s certainly a lot to appreciate about this lens, especially if you’re into landscape photography or capturing sports videos. Once you start shooting you’ll notice a significant difference in your photos and it’s fixed wide-angle view makes it an ideal specialty lens. For $200, the Zeiss ExoLens is a heavy investment, but worth it for the avid iPhoneographer!
What do you think? Does Zeiss bring something new to the table? Comment below!