Once phone cameras were of a sufficiently high quality it was only a matter of time before the concept of supplementary lenses arrived. Schneider were an early adopter, as was I, getting this kit of 3 lenses for the iPhone 4, about 4 years ago. I’ve been using it ever since, but when I got a later generation Apple phone, kept the iPhone 4 purely as a camera for use with these lenses, mainly because the hard plastic iPro shell isn’t very protective if the phone is dropped on a hard surface, and I preferred having an everyday phone in something a bit softer & all-embracing.
Well thought through, the phone slips into the rigid shell which acts as protection, tripod coupler and bayonet for the lenses. I say slip, but it’s more a feat of manipulative strength, once it’s on you tend to want to leave it there. The 3 lenses each bayonet into their own section of a screw-together housing, rather reminiscent of a 3 stage rocket, and the assembled tube also acts as handle which screws onto the shell, and in turn can be mounted onto a tripod as it has a 1/4″ thread on the base.
In the 4 years since I invested in iPro the range has had a facelift. The fisheye has gone, replaced with a super wide, and a macro lens has been added. I regard the loss of the fisheye as a bit of a shame, as by using the zoom on the camera the image could be taken from almost circular fisheye to full frame, which offered a lot of fun potential, see the Portmeirion shot here.
The iPro lens set can be considered very ‘top end’, costing about £200 for the kit. Since it came out there have been numerous lens units performing the same job coming onto the market, and a stroll through Amazon will reveal the length & breadth.
A lot of the cheaper end use some sort of bulldog clip arrangement to clamp a lens onto the camera itself. There are some all-in kits like the CamKix which use a similar shell, are bundled with every lens & accessory & still somehow manages to sell for 25 quid.
At that price I’d better get a Camkix kit for comparison.
Amazon link for iLens;