Review: iPhone Photography Kit

I like the ever-present ability of using my phone to take photos when I’m out and about, whether it’s for family and friends, to post to Instagram, or to capture opportunities at a conference or event I’m at. I wish, however, I had more options when it came to taking different photo styles and/or zooms. This is why I looked around at the different kits available for my iPhone, and decided to make use of the offer from the Cult Of Mac website for the ‘Ultimate iPhone Photography Lens Kit’.

The option of ‘quickly’ clipping on a lens for better zoom, or a wider viewing angle appealed to me – as well as the reduced price of $69 (down from $199)!

This package arms you with six different lenses so you can take virtually any kind of photo in any imaginable situation – from microscopic organisms to full-blown landscapes. Bundle Includes: 8x telephoto and 60x microscope lens with special case, the fisheye, macro/wide angle, and 2x telephoto lenses, a tripod, and a lens wallet to keep it all together.

I’ve had a short time to play with the kit, so what have I achieved and what do I think?

  • The case is useful but not good enough to hold all the lenses without some falling out. You’ll need to get yourself a bag or something else to hold them in if you take them all with you.
  • Don’t look for the instructions, there aren’t any. There is a small sheet of paper a with faded list of what the package contains, and the lenses that need the sticky/magnetic ring to connect has a short guide on what you need to do, but you really need to figure it out on your own.
  • The tripod is average. I ditched this and used my GorillaPod instead – it is more sturdy and more useful when out and about in different situations.
  • The magnetic ring that needs to be applied to your phone (you stick the ring to the phone and the lens uses the magnet to attach) is not the strongest of adhesive – I found the ring becoming unstuck depending on how I tried to remove the lens. In one instance the lens also fell off.

Examples of the lenses – I’ve used an app called Layout to put the original and lens-edited photos together, so you can compare the results, including the vignettes:

8x Telephoto

This lens is huge and requires the clip-on case to be used and the lens screwed in to it. As you can see from the unedited image there is something wrong with the placement or lens, of which there is nothing I can do about it.

iPhone Photography - x8 Telephoto

Microscope

iPhone Photography - Microscope

Fisheye

iPhone Photography - Fish Eye Lens

Wide-turn Macro

iPhone Photography - Wide-turn Macro

x2 Telephoto

iPhone Photography - x2 Telephoto

If you opt for this kit, or others like it, taker special note of anything like this you see – “You can get a bit of vignetting when using the lenses since you are stretching the focal length of your fixed phone lens. Note that the vignetting can be cropped out in any photo-editing app.” I found I needed to edit every photo to remove the worst of the vignette and make the photos more useable or worth sharing with either family members or online.

Ultimately it’s a lot of fun, but for me it’s barely worth the $69 / £43. If I’m out and about on my own, and have a bag or large pocket for the lenses then it could have been fun and interesting to see what kind of photos I can get, but the time needed to get the case clipped on, tripod set up or lens centred on the camera to reduce the vignette around the photos edge, and editing to remove the unwanted edge effects means it’s not practical enough to use on the spur of the moment photo opportunities. The colour also seems to have leached out somewhat too.

I have been reading the iPhone photography / iPhoneography ebook by Misho Baranovic. It has proved useful in basic techniques in framing the shot and some help with post-editing software, but the version I have is based on iPhone 4 and apps that are now 1 or 2 years old. There are other books like this which are possibly more up to date but this is a good one to start with.

Photowall from Chromecast App

Photowall from ChromecastPhotowall for Chromecast (iPhone/iPad): I recently wrote about the Chromecast I bought and have been trying out. This App, Photowall, is probably the best app currently available for schools and classroom activities.

Photowall enables students in (and outside) the classroom to ‘send’ images to the TV screen.

“Photowall for Chromecast is a new Chrome Experiment that lets people collaborate with images on the TV – using phones or tablets. Anyone can take a picture and send it to a Photowall to instantly see it on the big screen.” 

Photowall from Chromecast (free):
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photowall-for-chromecast/id814088518

All you need, from what I can see and have tested, is one device that can connect and ‘open’ the Photowall through the Chromecast. Once the Photowall has been created anyone can connect to the website on g.co/photowall, enter the passcode for that particular ‘wall, and send images to the screen.

  • Select images, doodle/draw on them, add a caption, and/or send to the ‘wall.
  • Send the code you’re provided when you create your Photowall to others you want to participate and they can send their own photos to the ‘wall – use the g.co/photowall link.
  • Save your ‘wall in a YouTube video for posterity.

You don’t have any input into the layout, length, music track, etc/ used to create the YouTube video, it’s all done behind the scenes. Here’s an example created from my first Photowall experiment:

YouTube: David’s Photowall

Here’s some images of Photowall: setting it up, using it, etc.

Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast Photowall Chromecast