The Olloclip clipped onto an iPhone 6 Plus. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Like millions of photography fans, the iPhone is my main camera. In fact, ever since my Nikon D600 took a suicidal, lens-first dive off a cliff and into a waterfall, my iPhone has become my only camera.
I’m always trying to eke out a little extra performance from my iPhone’s tiny camera sensor with new apps, tripods and lenses. Over the last three months, Cult of Mac has been testing various lenses for the iPhone 6 in a search for the best aftermarket glass. I’ve narrowed the field down to two top choices: the new Olloclip and Moment’s mountable lens system.
Unfortunately, iPhone 6 users can’t actually use both the Olloclip and Moment lenses at the same time. But if you’ve been considering getting new photo gear for your iPhone 6, we’re ready to break down the pros and cons of these aftermarket accessories.
The Lensbaby LM-10, shot through a fisheye lens and two mirrors. Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
I like the Lensbaby that I have for my regular camera, but I frikkin’ love the Lensbaby LM–10 for the iPhone. Like most things that make the trip from elsewhere to iOS, the little Lensbaby offers a subset of the original’s features, but they are – dare I say – a more focused set of features.
Let’s just say the iPhone Lensbaby is about the funnest iPhoneography accessory around.
Load up your manly new leather tote with dreamy camera filters, stick a handmade lens on your Leica, slip into a hideous, advertising-overloaded shirt from Rapha and jump on an outrageously expensive bike that’s unique selling proposition is its paint job. What could be more fun this July 4th weekend?
This is basically three of Blackbird's Pitch Black Field Notes notebooks, stuck together at the spines with real tar and wrapped with a cord that has had its tip dipped in yet more of the special Field Notes tar formula. If it sounds like some kind of Clive Barker-esque nightmare, that’s because it is. Don’t write the names of any loved ones in this book. Just in case, you know… $24
I tote-ally want this bag for the summer. It’s a carry-all version of WaterField's Rough Rider messenger bag, fashioned from the same tough leather with colored panels and pockets. Nonslip shoulder grips and interior pockets organize your gear, and a big central chamber will swallow all your other crap. $289
Got a GoPro? Want to add some sweet filters in front to pep up your pics? Then you need Lee’s new Bug Action Kits. There are two kits: one for underwater and one for everywhere else. The underwater kit slips green or blue color-correction filters in front of the lens in a special mount, and the dry-land (and air) kit features a polarizer and neutral-density filters, for amping up saturation or cutting out excess light. They’re reasonably priced, too, starting at around £45.
Still got money left over after wasting ten grand on a Leica M? Then you might want this handmade Perar 24mm ƒ4 pancake lens to go with it. The millimeters-thick sliver features a 10-blade aperture, full manual focus and rangefinder coupling, and can even be converted to fit other cameras. Around $660
Rapha makes lovely clothes for cyclists that don’t make you look like a dork when you’re off the bike. Usually anyway – the Team Sky jersey is not only as dorky as can be, it is also plastered with logos, so you are effectively paying the $225 asking price to become a human billboard. But you’ll be a very comfortable human billboard, with mesh fabric, angled rear pockets and a full-length zipper. I’ll stick with my merino wool.
Not long ago, anyone could buy the best bike in the world. Whichever bike that might have been, it would have been affordable to Average Charlie with maybe just a bit of saving up. But then things got ugly. Take the S-Works McLaren Tarmac, a bike as useless to the non-team rider as an F1 car is useless on the road. This carbon-fiber princess costs $20,000, and its prime feature is that it is painted in the “same location where the $1.2 million McLaren P1 supercar is painted.” If you like, you can read the specs with a calculator close at hand and tot up the weight savings – 30 grams here, 10 grams there. Then you can chuckle to yourself that the dentist who buys this bike will add all that weight back with a single hamburger.
Strictly utilitarian, the Cargo Works MacBook Module Sleeve will carry your notebook plus anything else you need to take along with it. Carved from a block of 900-denier polyester canvas, closed with YKK zippers and trimmed with “military grade” webbing, the pouch and pockets keeps your MacBook, power supply, trackpad and other essentials all together. Not that you ever actually need a power supply with today’s MacBooks, but you could always stow a delicious sandwich in there instead. $60
The Nissin i40 is billed as a flash for Micro Four Thirds cameras, but it’ll work just fine with anything that has a hotshoe up top. The MFT part really refers to the size – it’s small enough not to look ridiculous mounted on a tiny camera body.It also has two sweet clicky dials on the back so you can easily set the output power (for manual use) and select the auto-modes if you hate having control of your own photos. $269
It’s Instagram IRL, for your iPhone or other cellphone camera. The Dream Scope clips onto the iPhone and an adjustable filter mount can be finagled into place over the lens. The filters themselves are graduated circles of color, clear at one side and red, blue or yellow at the other. Use alone to hop up the hue of a dull scene, or combine to get totally psychedelic. Best of all, the whole shebang costs just $30, and nobody will be able to snoop your metadata and call you out as a #nofilter faker.
Homely multitool Xistera packs many iPhoneography essentials into one pointy package. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
Take the Xistera out of its box and you’ll be disappointed. It’s ugly as hell, like a cheap corkscrew, and it looks like it won’t really do much. But hidden in those graceless curves and eye-gouging corners is what a lazier journalist than me would call a “Swiss Army knife of iPhoneography.”
The wrist strap is the best part of the Snappgrip. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
The Snappgrip is a fantastic idea, with not-too-bad hardware to back it up. It’s an accessory grip for your iPhone that adds a Bluetooth shutter release, zoom buttons and control dial to the phone’s camera, as well as a wrist strap and a handy handgrip.
But in practice, you’ll be better off with the iPhone’s own volume switches if you want a hardware shutter release. Which is a shame, as I was super-excited to try the Snappgrip out.
Quick-connect iPhone lenses are certainly less bulky than typical camera gear, but there’s a price to be paid for convenience. Photos: Charlie Sorrell/Cult of Mac
One December years ago, in London’s Piccadilly Circus, a Santa Claus sat in a pavement cafe eating lunch with an elf. Santa had a pint of beer in from of him. I raised my old film SLR, which was prefocused and had the exposure already dialed in, and took a couple of shots.
I hoped they’d turn out well.
“Who are those pictures for?” said a guy, shouting as he jogged toward me. He’d come from somewhere nearby because it was too cold for just a shirt on a December afternoon in London, and he wasn’t wearing a jacket. I ignored him — there are a lot of nutters in Piccadilly any time of the year.
This week we check out the best iPhone cases for using underwater. And seeing as the only reason to take an iPhone underwater is to snap pictures, we’re looking specifically at the camera capabilities.
The little Luxi turns your iPhone’s front camera into a light meter. A what? A light meter, a device that measures the amount of light falling on a subject so that you can set the exposure correctly on your camera.
But wait, doesn’t you camera already set its own exposure? Doesn’t it have a light meter built in for when i want to kick it old school in manual mode? Yes and yes, but this $30 widget might still be handy.
Ever wanted to take photos of people without them knowing? Perhaps a sneaky shot of a pretty girl to help you “remember” her later, or some equally creepy bit of deceit? Well then, we have good news for you, you pervert: it’s the COVR Photo, an iPhone case which lets you shoot in secret.
The COVR has a little prism stuck on the back, and when want to use it you slide it into place. Now you can hold your iPhone like a TV remote and shoot whatever is in front of you while looking down at your iPhone’s screen.
Here’s the Das Keyboard 4, possibly the most bad-ass clacky keyboard in existence. No keycap markings, USB 3.0, Cherry MX switches and a huge knob. All that plus Das’s trademark feature: it’s as big as a boat. A “Das Boat” if you will.
You know how when you leave a pack of cookies open instead of sealing them in an airtight jar? They still taste the same, but they get all mushy: the satisfying snap has gone out of them. That’s how I feel now when I use even Apple’s excellent keyboards. They’re mushy compared to my clackety Filco keyboard.
Elgato’s Thunderbolt Dock has a few unique features that are appropriate for a company that makes video accessories for Apple devices. First, there’s an HDMI port around back, and second, the USB ports put out enough juice to charge your iPad at a decent speed.
Pad&Quill is at it again, this time with a low-profile rear-shell style case for the iPhone 5/S. While calling anything from Brian Holmes’s P&Q “minimal” would be a stretch, the Traveler Case gets pretty close. It is also gorgeous to look at, and would surely be just as lovely for the hands. It looks like the kind of case you couldn’t stop fingering.
Photojojo’s new iPhone Lens Wallet is a safe place to store the entire Photojojo lens lineup, and it’s small enough that it can live in your daily murse/purse. It even holds a tripod, and can be bought either empty or fully loaded.
Lensbaby’s new iPhone lens looks awesome. Or it would, if it didn’t attach with magnets. Yes, it’s a super-strong magnet and might therefore avoid the problem suffered by all other magnetically-attached iPhone lenses: they are hell to keep aligned.
But you still have to glue a metal ring onto the back of your iPhone.