The just released ExoLens kit for the iPhone 6 (iPhone 6 Plus in May, 2015) is a professional pair of lenses, 3x telephoto and wide angle that attach to the iPhone 6 with a sturdy lattice mount. The mount is threaded with a standard 1/4"-20 connection, ready for a tripod. The system is designed for growth.
While the iPhone has been growing in size slightly, it remains rather modest in size compared to a DSLR. That means there's a practical, sensible limit to how big a lens we really want to hang on it. That said, the rear facing camera in the iPhone 6 is excellent, and we're far from pushing the limits on how large an accessory lens could be attached in order to achieve better results.
More glass means more design freedom, but that also entails extra cost. However, with a suitable mount, ready for a tripod, the ExoLens kit could well replace a DSLR under certain conditions. I asked for more details about these rather large lenses:
With the quality of the current iPhone 6 and 6 Plus cameras it didn't make sense to focus on miniaturizing the lenses as Olloclip has. Instead we concentrated on quality and a greater line of options. For the current lenses the size allowed us to go higher power on the lenses without suffering vignetting. Additionally, the larger diameter telephoto allows more light into the image sensor than a miniaturized lens. Lastly, the larger format will allow us greater flexibility as we move forward with even more complex lens units this year.
As these additional lenses, in development, are released, I hope to review them as well.
Currently, there are two interchangeable lenses in this kit that screw onto the aluminum mount. The first is a 3x telephoto (with an effective focal length of 90 mm). included is a threaded, removable lens hood. The second is a 165 degree wide angle lens. Each comes with full lens caps for both ends.
Not sold by ExoLens, the Square Jellyfish tripod is fairly inexpensive.
The aluminium mount slides onto the iPhone 6 until the lenses line up. There's a soft material inside the mount so the iPhone doesn't get scratched. From there, you can hand hold or mount the frame on a tripod. There's an opening for the iPhone's on/off button, but the frame covers the iPhone's flash. I asked the developers about the lattice design, and they wrote:
As iPhones get thinner and lighter, mounting a large quality lens begins to throw the (in hand) balance off. We designed ExoLens to mount via a rigid aluminum bracket that spreads the mass of the lens system over the device for more stable shooting. Additionally the bracket has upper edges to aid in grip and the tripod mount is located as a reference point for the shutter button (volume buttons). The overall shape of ExoLens was a result of these features combined with the goal of a light and rigid structure. We find the end result has a certain industrial beauty that we feel compliments the design of the iPhone.
Included is a microfiber carry pouch. I found that by placing the lenses face to face, then dropping in the lens hood around the base of one lens, it all fits nicely for travel.
Next page: The optical details and sample photos.