The cameras included with smartphones are pretty good these days, but you’re stuck with the lens that’s built in. Unless you go around the hardware limitation with an add-on lens… Aukey sent me its Optic Pro 18mm wide angle angle cell phone lens (with iPhone 6/iPhone 6s case) to try out. If you use your smartphone primarily for landscape shots, this accessory might just be worth considering.
The Aukey lens is reassuringly solid feeling. I was expecting a lot of plastic, but it’s made of aluminum with glass optics. The lens screws into a mount incorporated into an included iPhone 6/6s case, positioning it perfectly over the iPhone’s existing lens.
And that’s it. Take a photo and you definitely get a much wider field of view. This beats using the iPhone’s Panorama feature (which requires you to pan the camera and only captures a wider image horizontally); with the Optic Pro lens in place, you snap the photo as usual with no fuss required and get a wider field of view both horizontally and vertically.
To show the difference the add-on lens makes, I snapped this shot out the back door with my iPhone 6, and then with the Optic Pro lens attached.
Neither photo has been cropped or enhanced in any way, although both were knocked down to 1000 pixels wide for this post. The Optic Lens introduced a little distortion in the immediate foreground (the snow is looking blurred) and on an extreme zoom the image is more pixelated, but overall the result is pretty good.
If you take a lot of landscape photos with your iPhone, the Aukey Optic Pro lens would be a useful addition. Indoors it’s a different story, especially when taking photos of people. The wide angle means portrait shots will likely require zooming after the fact and I found using the lens indoors resulted in darker photos. Aukey says it may interfere with the flash as well. This would be useful for group shots in large rooms, otherwise you’ll likely want to stick with the iPhone’s own lens for indoor shooting. And that’s a simple operation, thanks to the easy removal.
The case itself is quite attractive and easy to pop on and off. However, it wouldn’t pass Apple MFi certification as the case edges aren’t high enough to protect the iPhone’s display. If you set your iPhone down display-first, its glass will be in direct contact with the surface.
If you want to use the Optic Pro lens without the case — with virtually any smartphone, not just the iPhone 6/6s — Aukey provides a mounting clip with rubber pads. Think high tech clothespin and you have the idea. Screw the lens onto the clip, position it over your smartphone’s camera lens and the rubber pads ensure a secure grip that won’t damage your phone. I found this was a little fussier, but once the lens was centered properly, it worked just as well as with the case.
Besides the iPhone case and clip, Aukey also includes a small drawstring cloth carrying bag for the lens and a cleaning cloth.
The Aukey Optic Pro Wide Angle Camera Lens With iPhone 6/6s Case is regularly priced at $99.99, but it’s currently on sale for $49.99 on Amazon.
Disclosure: Aukey provided ab Optic Pro Lens for review purposes.