Cameras on smartphones have transformed the way we take and share images, and the camera on the latest iPhones is one of the best around.
The trouble is, with a fixed focal length with a wide field of view, it’s not suited to every subject we point it at. It may be great for selfies, but the lens doesn’t flatter your subject when it comes to a portrait for instance, with features distorted due to the characteristics of the lens.
You could reach for compact camera or DSLR – but given the connectivity and ease of use of your iPhone, and the fact that you’re more likely to have it with you most of the time, getting better results from your phone is preferable to lugging a camera around.
The good news is that there are now a host of iPhone lens accessories that you can attach or connect to your device, enabling you to push your photographic skills even further, without losing the ability to easily upload and share your images.
From affordable lens adapters that convert the field of view of your iPhone’s lens, to more advanced (and expensive) pieces of kit that not only have greatly improved lenses, but even their own built-in sensors to deliver greatly improved image quality, there’s an option to suit any budget.
Here’s our pick of some of the best options around…
1. Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens
Cheap and cheerful option with four lenses
Sensor: N/A | Lenses: Fisheye, wide-angle, 10x Macro, 15x Macro | Connectivity: Wi-Fi | Movies: N/A | Storage: N/A | User level: Beginner
Provided you’re not using a case or any sort of plastic film protector, the 4-in-1 slides easily onto the corner of your iPhone (there are options for different iPhone models); Olloclip also sells its own iPhone case, which gives you easy access to the volume-as-shutter-button. Offering four lens adapters (fisheye, wide-angle and two macro lenses), its incredibly simple to use. Don’t expect too much in the way of image quality though, with distortion at the edges of the frame. That said, if you want something fun and easy to use with your iPhone that won’t break the bank, you won’t go far wrong.
Read the full review: Olloclip 4-in-1 lens
2. Sony QX10
10x zoom lens with 18.2MP sensor
Sensor: 2/3-inch CMOS, 18.2MP | Lens: 28-100mm, f/2.8-4.9 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi & NFC | Movies: 1080p | Storage: MicroSD | User level: Beginner/intermediate
In essence, Sony has taken the guts from its WX150 compact camera and placed them in an even more compact body, save for the rear screen. The QX10 can be attached to your iPhone via an adapter, or used on its own to capture shots from more unusual vantage points, connecting via Wi-Fi or NFC. Image quality is a noticeable jump up from that of an iPhone, while the 10x zoom offers much greater coverage compared to the lens in your iPhone. For those looking for even better image quality, check out the Sony QX100.
Read the full review: Sony QX10
3. DxO One
Flawed, but with excellent image quality and connectivity
Sensor: 1-inch CMOS, 20.2MP | Lens: 32mm, f/1.8 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Lighting connector | Movies: 1080p | Storage: MicroSD | User level: Intermediate
With a fixed and fast 32mm f/1.8 combined with a large 1-inch 20.2MP sensor, there’s plenty to like about DXO’s One. Because it connects directly to an iPhone, there’s no waiting about for a Wi-Fi connection and it won’t lose the connection. The camera also fits almost seamlessly into the operating system, and images can be stored on your phone – plus there are raw files on the card if you want them for post-processing. That said, the One’s connectivity is also a weakness. You have to remember to unlock your phone or go to the home page before you connect the One in order for the app to open correctly, and then there’s a second or two delay before you can start shooting. The One produces great-quality images for a compact camera and it makes a fun, if expensive, iPhone accessory.
Read the full review: DxO One
4. Olympus Air A01
Micro Four Thirds with your iPhone
Sensor: Micro Four Thirds Live MOS, 16MP | Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds | Connectivity: Wi-Fi | Movies: 1080p | Storage: MicroSD | User level: Intermediate
Think of the Air A01 as a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera without the rear screen. Accepting the excellent range of MFT lenses, and delivering impressive image quality, this pocket-sized lens camera is nice and compact. The beginner-friendly app works very well, but we did have issues with connectivity dropping out in use. That, and the relatively high price, let it down.
Read the full review: Olympus Air A01
5. ExoLens with Optics by Zeiss Wide-Angle
Zeiss quality at a Zeiss price
Sensor: N/A | Lens: 18mm equivalent | Connectivity: N/A | Movies: N/A | Storage: N/A | User level: Intermediate/experienced
American firm Fellows has teamed up with renowned lens maker Zeiss to partner its ExoLens iPhone bracket with some high-end optics. With telephoto and macro options coming later, the Mutar 0.6x is the wide-angle version, reducing the iPhone camera’s effective focal length to around 18mm. The entire casing is made out of black anodised aluminium, while the detachable lens is reassuringly weighty. Inside there are aspherical elements to combat distortion, and an antireflective coating to minimise reflections and improve light transmission. Quality is excellent, but the casing is a little cumbersome, while you’re certainly paying a premium for the pleasure.
Read the full review: ExoLens with Optics by Zeiss Wide-Angle