You’re looking for the perfect photo. We’ve covered your lighting options when it comes to ring lights, but you still want more from your iPhone’s camera. From portrait mode to wide-angle shots (depending on your phone model), iPhones let you get extremely creative when it comes to photography, but if you’re not using the most up-to-date model you might feel like you’re missing out on new and exciting camera options. That’s where iPhone camera lens attachments come in.
A camera lens attachment can expand the range of your iPhone’s camera capabilities. It clips on externally or to a matching phone case to cover your phone’s rear camera. We tested both options and really liked the ability to clip lenses into the case, but if you’re looking for a simpler option that you can toss in a bag, the clips worked just as well.
The lenses we found to attach to your device were most commonly a fish-eye lens, a macro lens and a wide- or super-wide-angle lens. They sound fancy, but they’re pretty standard when it comes to photography. Fish-eye lenses are super unique in the image they help create. It’s an ultrawide-angle lens that distorts the image to create a spherical effect, sometimes with a frame around the spherical shot. A wide lens expands the angle of the image so you’re seeing more in your field of vision. Wide-angle lenses are great when shooting larger-scale content, like architecture, or capturing a natural landscape. Macro lenses are super-zoom lenses that show you up-close detail that even the eye can’t pick up on. The lens brings vivid detail to the photo so you’re seeing everything up close and personal.
For users who have an iPhone that doesn’t come with the built-in wide lens, a lens attachment can help get you that style of shot. Even if you’re using one of the latest and greatest models, like the 11 Pro or 12 Pro, an attachable lens can boost your photos and bring out more photography styles than just the built-in wide and portrait mode lenses. It gives you the option to be extra creative and have more camera options at your fingertips.
We spoke to iPhone photographer Dina Alfasi about her experiences shooting with her iPhones and using camera lenses to expand the range of shots. Alfasi is an award-winning iPhone photographer who focuses on capturing people in spontaneous and emotional situations, so for her, shooting on an iPhone and having a camera in her pocket is the best way to capture her favorite images. When it comes to lenses, Alfasi says, “It depends on the quality of the extra lens. … It is important to choose a lens with good, high-quality optics.” When asked how iPhone lenses have impacted her creativity, she answered, “With the help of the extra lens that is always with me, I can always adapt myself to the situation I want to photograph. In seconds I can attach the wide lens to the iPhone and get twice as much detail in the resulting frame. It gives me flexibility in creativity and choosing the perspective I want to capture. Some of my most successful photographs, some of which have won international awards, were taken with the help of a wide-angle lens.”
Looking for the right lens for you? We’ve gone hands-on with options from Olloclip, Xenvo and Moment to test out how they worked when it came to our iPhone photography. Safe to say, we’re pretty impressed.
Olloclip MultiClip + Fish-Eye/Super-Wide/Macro ($64.99, originally $99.99; ollloclip.com)
This is a great beginner kit when it comes to iPhone lens attachments. It comes with three lens options as well as the clip that attaches to your phone. It’s super small, and the lenses come in their own microfiber cloth bags so as not to get scratched or damaged. The clip sits directly over your camera lens, and when you open your camera you’ll immediately notice a difference. The fish-eye and macro lenses are built into the same attachment so you’re only carrying around two lenses and a clip.
We went hands-on with the Olloclip and were pretty impressed. Lenses attach to the clip fairly easily, though they can be small, which made them a little awkward to handle at times. We liked that the clip is adjustable in size so you can make it work with any case option you may be using. The fish-eye lens added a full circle frame around the shot, which made the attachment harder to place on the camera, since we had to make sure the lens was directly over the camera to line up the circular frame. It’s a specific aesthetic, and we’re not complaining, just something to note that other options didn’t feature. Overall they were super easy to set up and use, and we liked the way they improved our photo options.
Xenvo Pro Lens Kit for iPhone ($39.99; amazon.com)
The Xenvo Pro Lens Kit looked a lot more intimidating than it actually was to use. The kit comes with a macro lens, a super-wide-angle lens, a microfiber cleaning cloth, a clip, a lanyard for easy carry, the GlowClip mini LED and a protective case to keep everything in. It’s the largest of the lens attachments we tested, but it still fit in the palm of our hand. The lenses are attached to one another, which made it convenient for carrying, and the included carrying case was an added bonus.
In our testing with the Xenvo lenses, we found it was super easy to set the lens in place and get started capturing images. The super-wide lens was really awesome to use because we found it didn’t distort the image at all. Your field of vision was expanded a good amount and able to include a lot more of the environment. The macro lens worked really well in capturing up-close images, but you have to make sure the subject of the image is super close to your phone’s camera so that it captures all of the detail. For the price of the product, you’re getting a bang for your buck. Two lenses and a carrying case and cloth as well as a mini LED for $39.99 is pretty competitive and very reasonable. It’s a great kit for beginners or people looking for a convenient and portable lens kit.
Moment iPhone lens attachments
The lens options from Moment clip into a case designed specifically to hold the lenses in place over your camera. We like the case attachment point because it makes it super easy to align the lens over your camera. The only downside is that you can only use the lenses with the case, so the purchase becomes a little pricier. Moment’s lenses are an investment, but we have to say the high price comes with high-quality options. Moment offers a wide range of lenses, and the three we tested gave us stunning shots. The fish-eye lens didn’t have a frame around it, so you’re getting the full image capture. The Wide lens didn’t distort the field of vision at all and kept everything in the plane pretty even. The Tele lens brings you two times to four times closer to your subject. It’s like a macro lens but not as intense as the macro lens option from Xenvo. We really liked Moment’s lens options and range, and being able to connect to the case made setup a breeze.
Alfasi uses the 18mm Wide Lens and says it’s her favorite to work with. “Although the iPhone has a great wide lens, I find that with the Moment lens I can get a sharper image and no distortion at the edges of the image. The lens is excellent for landscape and street photography and maintains excellent quality even in harsh lighting conditions.”
We definitely think Moment’s lenses are worth the price if you’re looking to invest in your camera range. They’re extremely high quality, and there are tons of options so you can totally customize your lens lineup to achieve the creative goals you have when shooting with your iPhone.
Apexel Phone Camera Lens Kit ($21.99; amazon.com)
We didn’t get our hands on this kit from Apexel, but it comes with 10 lens attachments that clip directly onto your phone. At a low price, you’re receiving the universal phone clip, a fish-eye lens, two different kaleidoscope lenses, a star filter lens, a flow filter lens, a macro lens, a telephoto lens, a wide-angle lens, a radial filter lens and a CPL lens. You’re covering all of your bases, and each lens attaches directly to the clip. If you’re looking to expand your camera range at a low cost, this is a great option. It also comes with a carrying case for all of your lenses for portability and convenience.