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Old August 26th, 2015, 09:25 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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iPro Lens System - quickie review

Hi Guys,

I haven't posted anything on here of any significance since Jesus was a boy, so all the "old crew" who know me - cheers, and I hope things are going well.

There isn't a perfect place for this thread so I'll let the moderator move it to an appropriate home if need be…

We've all heard the saying, "The best camera available is the one that's with you" couldn't be more true these days, what with all of us walking around with high-res cameras in our phones. And even with true HD capabilities. So it's no surprise that in the past few years there have been companies making various add-on lenses for our cell-cameras to bolster their capabilities.

The most well known player in this space is Olloclip specifically because they partnered with Apple early on in their retail-to-market push and are actually sold in Apple Retail Stores and of course online.

However there are a handful of other players, not so well known a few I'll mention here breifly:

Originally the "M-Cam" lens system which eventually went through two more iterations from Smart Phocus to Bridge Optics was a fascinating iPhone-specific adapter to allow use of SLR lenses. Very similar to those of us nuts who went crazy using all manner of lens adapters for our dedicated vid-cams (Letus, Brevis, P+S Technik etc). I even shot what was to be a marketing video for Smart Phocus for my good friend who owns what is now Bridge Optics, you can see it here shot entirely on that adapter system:

Of course just like the 35mm lens adapters for HD cams that system really never got major traction, but holy cow the stuff you could produce on an iPhone looked better than what I shot on my HVX200 back in the day. Wowza.

But for the general public the simplistic and tiny add-on lenses are where it's at these days. And one of the newer players on the market is "Moment". They have an Apple-ish glossy web campaign and very sexy looking lenses but they only offer two: A 2x tele and a wide. They're OK in actual use but their physical beauty doesn't translate to equally gorgeous imagery as they're not *quite* the best thing since sliced bread as their campaign wants you to believe.

There are a handful of others that are on the market and range in price from around $50 bucks for a "set" of lenses all the way up to hundreds of dollars for a series of lenses.

And in that upper-end of offerings is the one that I've tested against all others (currently available) and the clear winner is the "iPro Lens System" from guess who… Schneider Optics! Right, the very same people who have been making high-grade add-on and prime lenses for the video/film industry for decades have recently released a lineup of cell-phone add-on lenses. I have the kit specific to the iPhone 6 Plus:

iPro Lens System

I haven't had time to take any "show and tell" imagery yet that I can share here but will soon. I have the 2x tele, Super-wide, Macro and Fisheye. (The fisheye is my favorite and the image quality is shockingly good.)

The lenses themselves are also, like the lenses from "Moment" are gorgeous and look exactly like miniature versions of lenses you'd expect to see on any full-size camera rig. You'd just about expect that they come with snap-on lens hoods and body caps they're so gorgeous.

The build quality is rock-solid, all-metal construction with true-glass elements that even have color-correcting coatings. Now of course these are not APO-type high-end glass, that would not only be overkill for their purpose but it would send the cost ridiculously sky-high and kill the market they are intended for.

But the imagery they produce is gorgeous with natural contrast, good color rendition and absolutely do not degrade focusing abilities or native lens sharpness at all.

The lenses mount via traditional bayonet 1/4 turn and the phone case itself is tough, high-grade plastic with very good external buttons for power and audio controls.

The cutout for the iPhone left-side switch prevents you accidentally hitting it (which without the case I used to always inadvertently hit that switch and kill the ringer). There are top and bottom mounted threads for typical tripod or accessory add-ons and the bottom has a flip-out rubberized cover for the charging port and headphone jack.

The really cool and smart thing about the iPro system which differs from the others is that every lens comes with it's own circular case with a bayonet mount inside. Put two or three lenses together (as comes with the pre-arranged kits available) and it becomes a handy screw-in handle to the case or accessory extension. Really, really smart concept - and works perfectly. See website for a better overview.

The iPro Lens offering is most definitely on the upper-end of cost compared to the competition, but I can tell you without hesitation that after pitting it against every other *currently* available add-on lens system it has the best image quality, a well thought-out case design, excellent build and materials quality and it's the most versatile when you consider the added threaded mounts and accompanying handle/case system.

Will it transform your 'Droid or iPhone into a DSLR-capable camera? Of course not, in the end you're still just adding something in front of a pinhole-camera type lens. BUT, expanding the capabilities of the native lens does wonders for stills or videos and once you get the system you'll wonder why you never had one before.

Robert Lane
Producer/Creator - Bike Pilots TV
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