Photojojo Iris Lens Series: Sweet Optics for Your iPhone or Samsung

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Mounted Photojojo

The Photojojo Iris Lens Series, professional grade optical quality glass lenses are easy to use and take superb pictures. If you’re interested in them, there’s no time like the present. The Photojojo Iris Lens Series for iPhone 6/6+, 6s/6s+ and Samsung S5. S6 is available right now for $109 for the set of three, marked down from $149 on the Photojojo site. WIth initial shipments the week of December 14th, If you order now, they may be here in time for the holidays! (Note: It is listed on Amazon, but not available as of January 2, 2016.)

I’ve only had and used them for a day. but wanted to get this first-impressions post out so readers would have a chance to get them at this reduced price. I’ll provide more pictures and review  in another post later.

I own a Nikon D90 and still pull it out for special situation, but more and more I am just using my iPhone as my primary camera as it’s such high-quality, takes decent pictures in a wide variety of situations, is convenient, and makes it extremely easy to share and use the pictures. But I often find the phone lacking in its field of view, especially with video.

Because of the phone’s limitations I’ve been casually looking for a set of add-on lenses for my iPhone for awhile, but being skeptical, I never jumped in. Also, as an Otterbox Defender user, not much in terms of attachments works with the case.

Given all of this, I was pretty excited when I was offered the chance to review the Photojojo Iris lenses and jumped on the opportunity. I received the Photojojo Iris Lens Series for the iPhone 6/6s and 6+/6s+. The Iris three-lens kit comes with a 10x macro lens, 100 degree wide-angle, and 180 degree fisheye lens. The mounting strap has a bracket for the mounted lens, as well as a lens cap that can double as a holder for a second lens. The spare two lenses each have protective covers. Last there are brackets to use for mounting depending on which version of the phone you are using and whether your iPhone is in a case or caseless.

Photojojo Iris Box
The Photojojo Iris box for all three lenses including wide, macro, and fisheye. Photo by Ryan Hiller.
From left to right, top to bottom, the wide-angle lens in the mounting bracket, macro lens and cover, fisheye and cover, caseless camera mounts for iPhone 6/6s and 6+/6s+,
From left to right, top to bottom, the wide-angle lens in the mounting bracket with strap, macro lens and cover, fisheye lens and cover, caseless camera mounts for iPhone 6/6s and 6+/6s+, lens plate moutns for the same phones for use with a case. Last is an easy to follow instruction manual for using the mounts. There is a link for online instructions as well. Photo by Ryan Hiller.

I tried the lens plate with my Otterbox Defender, and as expected the case is too thick to use with the Iris. I have plans to modify my Otterbox to work with the lens and I’m confident I’ll be able to do it. I will detail that in a later post. Luckily though, I have other cases on hand and was able to quickly and easily get the lens plate mounted on the phone. It’s a simple device that goes in the case and provides a knob to attache the lens bracket to. Note that with the lens plate in the camera flash does not work. It lights up the lens plate and washes out the photos. For the most part I don’t use a flash, so this will have minor bearing on me.

This is the lens mount that is inserted in your phone case. Photo by Ryan Hiller.
This is the lens plate mount that is inserted in your phone case. Photo by Ryan Hiller.
Lens mount
This peg is what sticks up off the phone case to fix the lens in position. This lens plate renders the flash useless. Photo by Ryan Hiller.

Mounting the lens is also pretty simple. You just slide the lens bracket onto the knob, and wrap the flexible strap around the phone. This keeps the lens securely mounted.

Now it was time for a quick photo expedition. The kit is pretty compact and each lens is completely secure for travel. While I was out taking pictures I was swapping lenses frequently, and for that use case I would prefer a third lens cover so I could secure one lens before dealing with mounting a different lens. Like any multi-lens camera system, you want to limit how often you change, and carefully change lenses. Typically though I think you’d have one lens on for most of a shoot and this would not be an issue.

Lenses ready for expedition
This is the whole kit for expedition. Each lens is protected in a rubber case. The extra cases attach to each other for ease of storage. In this image you can see the slots on the back of the lens mount that slide onto the mount that is on the phone. Photo by Ryan Hiller.

When I set out on expedition the one day I had available, it was raining, dumping at times. I wanted to get this post out so that you could benefit from the lower price and chance to ship before Christmas, so I only took a few dozen photos. Swapping lenses in the rain led to a great deal of lens cleaning. Typically in the field I wouldn’t be taking pictures of everything with three different lenses, so that would be less of an issue. I like the storage containers for the extra lenses. I just stuck them in my pocket and I had all three lenses safeguarded and at my disposal.

The following pictures are mainly for comparing the field of view available with each lens. The pictures in this post are optimized for the web. For full size images, and all the pictures I took on this outing check out my Flickr album.

Bridge Normal
La Conner Washington’s Rainbow Bridge taken with the standard iPhone 6+ camera. Photo by Ryan Hiller.
Bridge Wide Angle
The Rainbow Bridge taken in the same spot with Photojojo’s Iris wide-angle lens mounted to an iPhone 6+. Photo by Ryan Hiller.
Bridge Fisheye
The Rainbow Bridge taken in the same spot with Photojojo’s Iris fisheye lens mounted to an iPhone 6+. There’s a water drop on the lens. Like I said, it was raining. Photo by Ryan Hiller.
Boat Normal Lens
CHB Trawler taken with the standard iPhone 6+ camera. Photo by Ryan Hiller.
Boat Wide Angle
CHB Trawler taken with Photojojo’s Iris wide-angle lens mounted to an iPhone 6+. Photo by Ryan Hiller.
Boat Fisheye
CHB Trawler taken with Photojojo’s fisheye lens mounted to an iPhone 6+. Photo by Ryan Hiller.

Note that the fisheye lens is a full-frame fisheye, so it shows none of the vignetting of a circular fisheye, but you’re also not seeing a full 180 degrees in the horizontal and vertical axes. I prefer the full-frame fisheye as I don’t want circular pictures.

I anticipate using the wide-angle and fisheye lenses quite a bit, especially with video which typically has a pretty limited field of view. I did not notice any difference in the quality of the pictures with the lenses attached. They are a relatively big piece of glass compared to the iPhone lens.

The lens I was most interested in trying out though was the macro lens. It’s a 10x lens with a 13mm focus distance and performed wonderfully showing great detail. Again, I include the standard iPhone 6+ image first for comparison to the Iris macro lens.

Macro on standard iPhone 6+
A ‘Pathfinder’ miniature taken with the standard iPhone 6+ camera. Photo by Ryan Hiller.
Kyra taken again, this time with the Photojojo Iris macro lens mounted on an iPhone 6+. Photo by Ryan Hiller.
Kyra taken again, this time with the Photojojo Iris macro lens mounted on an iPhone 6+. Photo by Ryan Hiller.
Photojojo Iris Macro shot of quarter
Quarter taken with the Photojojo Iris macro lens mounted on an iPhone 6+. Photo by Ryan Hiller.
Cropped macro shot of quarter.
This image is cropped to show the amount of detail and sharp focus the Photojojo Iris macro lens provides. Photo by Ryan Hiller.

Again, if you want to see all of the full size images, check out my Flickr album.

Here are some specs taken directly from the Photojojo Iris site.

All the lenses have

  • Professional grade optical quality glass
  • Glass is coated for clarity and scratch prevention
  • Anodized aluminium housing with a bead blasted finish and precision machined (by a robot!)
  • Extra durable double process assembly

Wide Angle Lens

  • 100 degree lens fits 2 times more of the view in the frame
  • Four ground glass lens elements work together to keep things crisp
  • Resolution maximized at the center all the way to the edge of the frame

Fisheye Lens

  • 180-degree lens takes in 3 times the view
  • Three glass elements work together for that fishy look
  • Full-frame fisheye means no black vignetting

Macro

  • 10x magnification sees what you regularly cannot
  • 13mm focusing distance is ready for its close-up
  • Ultra crisp high resolution center creates beautiful bokeh
  • Three glass elements take in every last detail
Innards of Photojojo Iris Lenses
Check out the lens innards. From the Photojojo site, “A team in Europe helped us move mountains (and lightwaves) to create an optics system that works best with your phone. Science!” Image from Photojojo.com.

These lenses also work great with video. Here is Connor Kenway doing his thing!

This was taken with the Photojojo Iris fisheye attached. Again, when I have more time and hopefully my iPhone in its Otterbox case, I will try more videos.

These lenses were a blast, and I know I’ll get a great deal of use out of them. The only draw backs were that the lens mounting mechanism did not work with my over-the-top protective case, and the fact that the flash is no longer usable when the lens plate is in place. The lenses took superb pictures and video, were easy to attach and swap out, and stayed securely on the iPhone. Check them out on the Photojojo Iris Lens site. They are currently $109 and as of the night of December 14th the site says they will arrive before Christmas.

Here’s a quick video showing how to easily swap lenses.

Disclosure: Photojojo provided an Iris lens series for this review. All opinions remain my own.

Edited 12/16/15 to reflect current Amazon price information.

Edited 01/01/16 to include video showing how to easily remove and swap lenses.

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