Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

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July 21, 2012 • Reviews

USBFever Magnetic Lenses for the iPhone 4S (and other Smartphones) Review

Finder

I recently upgraded my camera to a Canon T3i from a Canon G11. The move from a point and shoot, albeit a good one, to a DSLR has been a long time coming and I am loving the process of learning how to use it. (Okay, to be honest, I’m also loving the opportunity to gather new accessories to use with it… that’s another series of posts.)

In the past, I would use the G11 for product pictures and even for some video while my iPhone served as my “always with me” point and shoot. I briefly considered keeping the G11 around and using IT as my point and shoot, but between having the T3i and the iPhone 4S it seemed awfully redundant. Still, as I was looking around and determining what accessories I wanted to get for the new Canon I also started thinking about ways I could improve my iPhone’s picture-taking ability. That’s why I turned to our friend and advertiser, USBfever. USBfever offers a nice array of accessories including some add-on lenses for the iPhone 4S and other smartphones. I reached out them and asked if they would send a selection for a “photoshoot”. Three different lenses, serving four different functions (more on that in a moment) arrived. What’s great is that all three lenses connect to the iPhone in the same manner. A small, largely unobtrusive, metal ring sits on the back of the iPhone (or the skin/case you are using).

To use the various lenses you simply pull off the protective cap the small end of the lens and place it close to the small metal ring. The lenses, which are magnetized do the rest as the lens is pulled onto the iPhone and held fast. One might expect that this system wouldn’t provide much by the way of holding the lens fast but one would be wrong. Once connected the lenses stay put quite well. They even do a decent job of self-centering. From there it’s as easy as snapping the pictures you want.

Let’s run down the three different lenses and look at a few pictures taken with each.

Safari

Magnetic / Detachable Fish-Eye Lens for iPhone / Cellphone / Kodak Zi8 / Samsung Galaxy i9300 s3 (180°)

MSRP: $19.99 Purchase here.

Features:

Wider Angle – upto 180 degree

Portable and detachable, you can take a photo with your device at any time

High Clarity: Made of high-class glass

Strong: Made of top-grade Aluminuim

Applicable to any devices

Specifications:

Magnification: 180° FishEye (0.28X)

Lens Construction: 3 elements in 3 groups

Dimensions (main body): 25mm (diameter) x 15mm (length)

Dimensions (magnetic ring): 13.06 (outer), 9.38 (innner)

Weight: 11.4g

Screen Shot 2012 07 19 at 2 01 55 PM

Magnetic / Detachable Wide Angle + Macro Lens for iPhone / Cellphone / Kodak Zi8 / Samsung Galaxy Sii i9100

MSRP: $14.99 Purchase here.

Features:

Portable and detachable, you can take a photo with your device at any time

You can use this conversion lens to make the wide angle shots as 0.68X

High Clarity: Made of high-class glass

Strong: Made of top-grade aluminum

Applicable to any devices

Specifications (Wide Angle):

Magnification: Wide 0.68X + Super Macro

Lens Construction: 2 elements in 2 groups

The shot distance is between 10~23mm

Dimensions(main body): 20mm (diameter) x 11.2mm (length)

Dimensions (magnetic ring): 13.06 (outer), 9.38 (inner)

Weight: 4.2g

Specifications (Marco):

Magnification: Super Macro

Lens Construction: 1 element in 1 group

The shot distance is between 10~23mm

Dimensions(main body): 15.8mm (diameter) x 6.5mm (length)

Dimensions (magnetic ring): 13.06 (outer), 9.38 (inner)

Weight: 2g

Screen Shot 2012 07 19 at 2 03 25 PM

Magnetic / Detachable Telephoto (2X) Lens for iPhone / Kodak Zi8 / Samsung Galaxy S2 i9100

MSRP: $16.99 Purchase here.

Features:

Portable and detachable, you can take a photo with your device at any time

High Clarity: Made of high-class glass

Strong: Made of top-grade Aluminuim

Applicable to any devices

Specifications:

Magnification: Telephoto 2.0X (just as a 2X zoom lens)

Lens Construction: 2 elements in 2 groups

Dimensions (Main body): 27mm (diameter) x 14mm (length)

Dimensions (magnetic ring): 13.06 (outer), 9.38 (innner)

Weight: 9.9g

Preview

Here are all three lenses. Each comes with the lens, a plastic lens cap, a metal protection disk for the rear section and a small threaded loop for attaching to a keychain or other similar means of not losing the entire thing the first day you have them in your possession. (Seriously, these are SCREAMING to be lost day one if you are not careful.)

Preview

Each comes with self-adhering metal disks that sit around the camera lens. These touch ones of for camera whose flash is separate from the actual lens.

Preview

And here is a look at the one that is specific to the iPhone 4 and 4S. Obviously the notch is there to prevent covering the flash. In this case I attached the ring to a skin on my iPhone. I tried it on the phone itself and on a case and didn’t encounter any issues.

IPhoto

This is a up-close look at the fisheye lens. I was, and am, impressed by the quality of the lenses. And by the images they help take. Let’s have a look and then give an overall assessment.

IMG 4957 This was taken with a regular ol’ iPhone 4S.

IMG 4955 And this was taken with the Fisheye lens.

IMG 4959 Regular iPhone with no enhancement.

IMG 4960 Taken with the Telephoto attached.

IMG 4964 Taken with the fisheye lens.

IMG 4966 Regular

IMG 4969 Telephoto

IMG 4967 Fisheye

IMG 4971 Wide angle

The bottom line is this – if you use your iPhone to take pictures, this is a convenient and relatively inexpensive way to add a degree of flexibility to the “best camera on a mobile device yet”. With one lens I get a usable macro and wide-angle camera. With another I get a fisheye lens. (I’ve never quite understood why I would actually want this, but I do kind of like the way it tweaks the image.) With the third lens I add some telephoto functionality. And all of this comes without my needing to add some bulky case/lens combination; although USBfever sells those, too! And while these were each review samples provided by the company, having dealt with USBfever as a consumer, I can also tell you that they are great to work with.

With summer here there’s no doubt many of us will be taking more pictures than ever and, oftentimes, our smartphones will be taking the shots. These lenses from USB fever are a great way to up your game.

MSRP: $14.99-$19.99

What I Like: Work well; Easily added or removed from the iPhone; These work well and are well-made

What Needs Improvement: Nothing other than the ease of losing them; You may not NEED these lenses, but they sure do come in handy.

2 Responses to " USBFever Magnetic Lenses for the iPhone 4S (and other Smartphones) Review "

  1. Even though I haven’t bought any yet, I am very interested in how many lens and camera attachments are coming out for the iPhone. I am looking forward to seeing what else comes out in the next year or two; I’m really getting the sense that we’ve reached a tipping point with iPhone camera attachments, and think we’ll see a lot in the next year or two.

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