mobile photography

5 of the Best iPhone Lens Kits (2016 Edition)

iPhone lens kits may seem like an usual topic, but there are some great reasons to pay attention to these accessories.

At the New York Film Academy, our photography programs offer an in-depth investigation and exploration of the artistic and technical skills required to take your photography work to a professional level. Our programs focus on the practical elements of photography and train our students in the proficient use of the most state-of-the-art cameras and techniques in their field.

Yet, it’s very practical to acknowledge that many amateur and professional photographers these days are also using their personal mobile devices to snap pics, whether for personal or experimental use. So why not find creative ways to apply what you’re learning in photography school to every picture you take with the same passionate level of thought and care, even if you’re simply using your iPhone?

While an iPhone camera is no match for a Canon, Nikon HDSLR, or SONY mirrorless camera, we realize that personal iPhone photography is a large part of many of our lives. After all your hard work in photography school, you’re probably longing for ways to bring some of what you’ve learned into every aspect of your life. So we’ve compiled a list of some lens kit ideas to help you bring your photography school mindset to your iPhone photography.

The results of this low-fi solution are consistently surprising, so if you want to experiment with your iPhone photos, scroll on to discover seven iPhone lens kits that represent the best value for money.

1. Camera Lens Kits for iPhone 6 – The Best of the Best

All iPhone lens kits featured below are compatible with the iPhone 6/6s and Plus models, and usually fit on any model of phone. We listed Amazon prices for guide only – NYFA is neither compensated or endorsed by Amazon or any manufacturer featured.

Photojojo Iris Three Lens Set

photojojo

RRP: $69.99

Contains: Mount plus wide, fisheye and macro

A sturdy piece of kit with billeted aluminium casing, the Photojojo 3-in-1 lens package is very well thought-out. Simply affix the mount onto the phone (it’ll work with any phone, even with a case) and switch out the lenses as needed – the mount itself converts into a small carry case.

Mpow 3 in 1 Clip-On Kit

mpow

RRP: $13.99
Contains: 180 degree fisheye, 0.67X wide angle, 10x macro

A 3-in-1 lens kit for under $15? You read that right. And not only is it easy on the wallet, it’s also ridiculously good in the quality department too, fitting beautifully close to the iPhone’s camera (and presumably Android models also, though we’ve not tested that).

The image quality is superb thanks to the high-clarity glass and that perfect fit, though the clamp system — while efficient in terms of easy removal — can get in the way a little bit.

If you’re looking for a more discrete solution, it’s time to check out:

Photojojo Magnetic Lens Kit

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RRP: $49
Contains: Fisheye, telephoto, wide/macro

Another excellent product from Photojojo, and it’s a shade cheaper than the Iris set listed above. The difference between the two is that this Cell Lens pack attaches to your phone magnetically (with or without case), and are cleverly designed to not cover your phone’s in-built flash. We’ve not seen a difference in image quality between the two sets during testing — all three lenses offer a remarkable level of fidelity and sharpness.

Downside: while the magnets are strong and won’t damage casing, they will slip or fall off completely if knocked and therefore may not be suitable for rigorous shoots. We also cannot guarantee that the magnets won’t damage other models of phones outside of iPhone/Android (some phones have their own magnets around the camera lens for image stabilization).

Olloclip 4-in-1

olloclip

RRP: $79.99
Contains: Clip plus fisheye, wide-angle, 10x and 15x macro

It’s one of the more expensive iPhone lens kits on this page, but it’s also the only one that has won awards. And rightly so.

With each lens weighing in less than an ounce, this is unparalleled image quality combined with a quick on-off action thanks to the clip (and it also covers the front lens, too). Additionally, it comes with three wearable pendants to keep the whole kit easily accessible.

A very elegant, secure design that features some really impressive optics. The only con is that this one is iPhone 6 only.

CamKix Ultimate Kit

RRP: $42.99
Contains: 8x telephoto, fisheye, macro/wide angle, tripod, phone holder, hard case, velvet soft case, cleaning cloth

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more all-encompassing lens kit at a cheaper price. Given the amount of equipment that’s thrown in, the CamKix package offers outrageous value for money (we love that telephoto lens!) but it’s not quickly deployable – you need to affix the hard case before you can add a lens, and you’ll probably want to use the tripod for telephoto stabilization. On the plus side, that does mean it’s compatible with all phone models.

There is no replacing the quality and artistry of images you can create with your Canons, Nikons, or SONYs, but we hope this has given you some ideas for your mobile pics.

Have you found creative ways to apply what you’ve learned in photography school to mobile devices or your personal image making? Let us know in the comments below!

7 Killer Tips for Gorgeous iPhone Photography

Gorgeous iPhone photography is attainable. In the past, we’ve demonstrated that it’s entirely possible to shoot an entire feature film using nothing more than an iPhone, so it’s of little surprise that straight photography with an iPhone can yield very impressive results — if you know how to use the device to its greatest advantage.

Artistic, high-quality photography can be achieved with an iPhone. It’s enough to make you wonder when we’ll stop calling the super computers in our pockets “phones” and think of something more appropriate. Everything machine? Infinity box?

While we work on our new iPhone nickname, read on to discover seven game-changing iPhone photography tips that’ll help you compete against the DSLR pros…

1. Always Use Two Hands

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Each iteration of the iPhone is lighter than the last — and while that’s great for general practicality, it’s somewhat detrimental to stability when trying to take a steady shot. Always use two hands to keep the phone as still as possible. This simple trick can really make or break a shot.

2. The Gorilla Grip Tripod is Worth Its Weight in Gold

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If using two hands isn’t enough to get the steadiness you need for a shot, an iPhone-specific tripod is the perfect solution. These tools are affordable, portable, and can help you achieve angles and framing that you might not otherwise have a chance to try.

3. Put the Headphones to Good Use

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Let’s face it: the iPhone’s headphones aren’t the most impressive audio devices on the market — but they do come with a little-known feature: the “volume up” button doubles as a camera remote! This is a very handy alternative to a selfie stick if you’re using a tripod or want to be in the shot.

4. Understand the Shutter Button

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It’s simple, right? You press the big button, and it takes a photo.

Not quite. It’s worth noting that the shutter only activates when you remove your finger from the button, not when you press it. If you’ve ever noticed slight motion blur on a shot even though you’re convinced you were perfectly still, it’s probably because you began moving just after pressing the button and assumed the shot was done.

5. Forget the iPhone’s Zoom Feature

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Because it’s a weak feature, on the whole — this is one of the areas in which a smartphone will never compete with a tooled-up DSLR.

If you must zoom in on a subject and can’t simply move closer to it, consider taking the shot as standard and applying zoom in post instead. It’ll look marginally better than the in-built zoom feature, which maximizes every tiny movement and loses a lot of sharpness. That said, there’s an even better solution…

6. Invest in a Lens Kit

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As smartphone photography has increased in popularity, so has the market for lens kits that can attach effortlessly over your phone’s camera. If you’re serious about getting the very best from your iPhone shots, a lens kit is vital.

In this day and age, you’re spoiled for choice and can easily blow $500-$1000 on iPhone lenses, but even a $30 three-in-one kit with a fisheye, wide angle, and macro lens will dramatically improve your results.

Just remember: if you’re going in for an iPhone lens kit, you’ll likely have to replace it every few years as the dimensions of the phone evolve.

7. Everything You Learn at Photography School Still Applies

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All the ”rules” and best practices you’ve spent so much time studying still work on an iPhone. You’re still taking photos with a camera, after all!

Everything you know about composition, finding unique angles and perspectives, identifying interesting subjects, working with lighting and exposure, and exercising great technique are all still ingredients to a good photo — no matter what you’re shooting with. Think of the iPhone as simply another industry-standard tool to master and add to your repertoire as a photographer.

So, get out there and put your photography skills to good use! Remember the golden rule of great photography: the more you shoot, the more likely you are to produce great photos. One of the key benefits of taking photos with your smartphone is that you generally always have it on you. So shoot often and have fun!

Any great iPhone photography tips we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments below!

Mobile Photography: From Smart Phone To The Real (Digital) World

Mobile photography has been taking over the market over the past couple of years. Everywhere you go, you see people with their smart phones taking photographs with their loved ones, snapping a photograph of their lunch and posting far too many photographs of their pets. While Instagram started with a handful of their own presets for editing images, many of the more popular Instagram photographers edit their photographs outside of the program, using applications such as Snapseed, Afterlight and VSCOcam.

Jessica Silversaga

Photograph by Jessica Silversaga

These dreamy filters have extended far beyond the mobile world. Many professional photographers are using Adobe Lightroom to manage and edit their photographs, and popular applications have taken advantage of this fact. While there are plenty of free Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop presets to download via the internet, popular photo editing application VSCOcam has created their own sets of Lightroom presets that can be purchased to make photo editing on the computer a breeze.

What do you think this means for the future of photography? While it’s hard to debate the stunning, dreamy photographs of VSCO edited photographs, will these photographs become so saturated in the market that there won’t be any photographs edited by hand anymore? Photo editing can be an incredibly tedious process, with professional photographers using dozens of layers in every single image, but the new arrival of professional presets saves hours of time.

Gabriel Flores

Photograph by Gabriel Flores

What About the Future of Film?

It can be hard to deny that film is a dying breed, but the new VSCO presets for Lightroom may help expedite that process. VSCO is offering five different versions of presets for both Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom that emulate the look of many different types of old film. For you film buffs out there, you can emulate the look of anything from Polaroid 665 to Kodak Ektar to Fuji Superia, all with the simple click of a button.

Instagram: Amateur or Professional?

There are two sides to the Instagram world. On one end, you have the amateur photographers, using Instagram presets and snapping a photograph of anything they see without worrying about lighting, composition, and other basic aspects of professional quality photographs. On the other end, you have photographers who painstakingly wait for the perfect moment to photograph, spend their time editing their photograph to perfection, and then posting their image to the social media network so that their thousands of followers can see what they have been up to recently.

Instagram is not just about smart phone photography anymore. Many professional photographers use Instagram as a platform to share their own digital images, taken with expensive equipment and then edited through smart phone applications before being posted. The lines between smart phone photography and DSLR photography are becoming increasingly blurred.

The Professionals

While there are plenty of people out there who are using VSCOcam and other popular editing programs to edit and share their images, these people truly blur the line between simple “mobile photography”and beautiful, professional photographs.

IOEGREER (Joe Greer)

Joe Greer

Joe Greer is one of the best examples of Instagram gone professional, as he recently accepted a job with VSCOcam due to the photographs he edited through their program and posted on his popular Instagram page. It’s easy to see how he has over 116k followers, since he consistently posts dreamy images of mountains, lakes, fields of sunflowers and simple, relaxing moments.

MARKCLINTON (Mark Clinton)

Mark Clinton

Mark Clinton posts from the picturesque Sydney, Australia. With over 52k followers, he constantly pleases the eye with photographs of towering waterfalls, winding mountain roads and starry night skies. He has the perfect mix of landscapes and portraits (as well as a handful of photographs in which you can see his own hand), which keeps the stream feeling personal.

WITHHEARTS (Cory Staudacher)

Cory Staudacher

With over 312k followers, it can be hard not to get wrapped into the magical world of Cory Staudacher. The fact that he is a professional photographer stands out at first glance, with perfectly posed portraits in unbelievable landscapes, stunningly shallow depth of field (that could only be the result of posting images that were taken on a DSLR), and a world of fog that makes you wish for the next misty day. His photographs offer a look into the world around Seattle that has nothing to do with busy cities and 9-5 jobs; a world in which everything is possible and the only thing holding you back is yourself.

JAREDCHAMBERS (Jared Chambers)

Jared Chambers

Jared Chambers, posting photographs from Los Angeles, CA, has over 273k followers. With photographs ranging from Todd Hido-esque nightscapes to portraits taken shadow to historic cars, there is something here for everyone to love. He captures both the city and the outskirts of the city with utmost perfection, and his frequent trips out of the country offer a nice break from the California landscape.

STELLAMARIABAER (Stella Maria Baer)

Stella Maria Baer

Stella Maria Baer brings an interesting twist to her Instagram, since she is a watercolor artist that frequently posts photographs of finished paintings as well as behind-the-scenes shots and various snippets of her life outside of the studio. From her perfectly constructed large-scale astronomy paintings to her portraits that could be found in a fashion magazine, Stella never bores. At first glance you’ll fall in love with her, her artwork, and her love for the desert.

An interesting fact about many of these “professional” Instagram photographers is that they offer links to their life and work outside of the application. Some have links to blogs where they post high-resolution images of their digital work, while some offer ways to purchase prints of the images that you see on Instagram.

One of the drawbacks of the social media application is that the photographs that are taken and edited strictly on the smart phone are not nearly as high quality as those you can get from your DSLR. By taking photographs with a DSLR, editing them with VSCOcam presets via Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop, and then posting them on Instagram, it offers a seamless way of advertising your photography or other work through Instagram and then offering high-quality images via other websites or networks.