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This is the first wide angle lens I’ve ever used with a smartphone, and before I tried them, I have to admit I felt a little biased against them. Perhaps that’s the photographer in me. I always believed that adding a big, bulky lens onto a phone camera, which is so tiny in and of itself, is overkill and not capable of quality images. Part of me still believes it – I just don’t think you can get the same kind of sharp, quality images with a phone that you can with a digital SLR camera. But I will admit that, for what it is, this lens produces some great pictures for a smartphone camera.
First let’s talk about construction. This lens comes in a box with molded foam around the lens, so it’s very well protected in transit. I would consider keeping the shipping box for this reason – something I never do with camera accessories I order. It comes in a nice velvet-like drawstring pouch for protection. There is also a nice lens cap that fits snuggly over the lens for added scratch protection. You’ll need this, because this is a big, substantial lens. You may not know this from pictures on Amazon, but this is a big, beefy piece of glass. It’s actually decently heavy. This is not a cheap plastic lens – it’s serious glass (so treat it as such!). It will pick up fingerprints, so handle on the sides to avoid this. The glass itself is about the size of a quarter, surrounded by metal. It has a threaded attachment to the clamp, which is very springy and holds the lens securely to the phone. The points where the clamp makes contact with the camera – both front and back – have a nice rubberized “gasket” which will hopefully protect from scratches.
Now let’s talk about how it works. You clamp this over the camera on your phone. That’s pretty much it. It’s not complicated. There are some caveats though. It seems you need to attach it directly to the phone in order to avoid a “peephole” effect of a black ring around the picture. I have a two-piece case on my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge that’s a little hard to take off, so I tested this mainly on my old iPhone 5S with its case removed. Sometimes it also takes a bit of careful positioning to get this placed right over the phone camera lens without vignetting. The clamp is pretty long too, so much of it hangs off the edge of the phone, which makes it a little prone to bumping or nudging off the perfect lens position. Once you learn to use it, this hassle is minimal.
So how well does it work? I think it works pretty OK, as long as you know how to line up shots correctly. If you’re taking pictures of things with a lot of objects in near proximity, this is a fisheye lens. If you want it to be a wide angle lens for landscape photography, the fisheye effect is minimal as long as you don’t have a lot of objects within 20 or so yards of you. In one of my example pictures, I was parked on a road, so the road is very much in a fisheye effect while distant trees are not distorted. Pictures in general are sharp, and it doesn’t seem to affect the performance of camera focusing.
Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised with this lens. I think this has earned a spot in my crammed-full camera bag. I’m actually curious to use it this fall when I go out taking fall color pictures, because I think it would capture more of the sweeping vistas that I would normally use a panorama feature to capture. I may update my review in future with some of those pictures.