If you’re looking for the absolute best wide angle lens adapter for your iPhone then Zeiss may have answered your prayers.
We previously reported the announcement by Zeiss that they’ve developed add-on lenses for the iPhone 6 and 6S with Fellowes, and at BVE this year they had a working sample of the 0.6x wide angle for us to try out.
The lens is held on the iPhone by a slip-on Exolens adapter – you can’t use a case at the same time, unfortunately – but the adapter provides a cold shoe mount and tripod socket. The lens itself is beautifully made and has a similar finish to the company’s high end stills lenses. Despite its size it feels robust and not like a toy. There will be a 2x telephoto and zoom macro, as well as the wideangle lens.
The wide lens features Zeiss T* coatings and gives the iPhone roughly the same field of view as an 18mm super wide (in photo mode). You’re unlikely to be able to achieve a shallow depth of field using such a small sensor and wide angle.
For the test our contributor Simon Glass shot using an iPhone 6S and both the Filmic Pro app in 100Mbps 4K, plus the stock iPhone camera app at 120 and 30 fps. There was no thread on the front of the lens adapter so we had to hold a Genus Fader ND filter on the front of the lens to control exposures (keeping the shutter speed low for a more filmic effect). The only tripod we had to hand was a Sachtler Video 18P which dwarfed the iPhone.
The results were impressive given the size of the hardware: flare seemed well controlled, there was no ghosting and the wider field of view was especially useful in video mode (which uses a tighter crop of the sensor than stills mode). The corners of the image are remarkably sharp compared to any other add-on lens I’ve seen. Chromatic aberration was also very good. In short, I was amazed.
No word on price or availability yet, but a set of three lenses and an iPhone could make a good, compact kit for budget or low profile news gathering.
For more info keep an eye on the Exolens website.