September 23, 2017

The Definitive Guide to iPhone Photography Gear.

Your iPhone is designed to be the perfect phone cam, no accessories required. But...

There are some great accessories that can really unbridle your creativity and make shooting easier. So here's the definitive collection of iPhone photography tools. (Every option available is not covered, just the ones I've found to be the best quality or most useful.)

Index.


Lenses.

For the serious iPhoneographer (is that ironic or oxymoronic?) Moment lenses are unmatched in optical quality and design. The line, made from cinema glass, was recently updated to v2 with new bigger mounts to accommodate the growing size of built-in phone lenses.

Olloclip lenses are not as sharp as Moment's, but are the most practical lens attachments for your iPhone. They're a good compromise of quality and convenience. They have their own clip-on mount. Each set has two lenses that slip securely over a naked iPhone.

Tele lenses.

Wide lenses.

  • The Moment Wide v2 is one of the most beautiful lenses ever created. Period. Built with negligible barrel distortion (bowed lines), this lens has beautiful keystoning (trapezoidal exaggeration) and takes unbelievably crisp images. It's excellent for landscape and architectural photography with an 18mm⇔ view when placed over the iPhone built-in Wide lens. I also have a deeper review of this lens here.
  • The Moment Superfish, a beautifully-smooth, 170º fisheye lens that was designed to leave no awkward curved black edges on your photos.
  • The Olloclip Active for the iPhone 7/8 and 7+/8+ combines a 2x Tele and Ultra-Wide lens. This is a useful set to keep with you for a wide variety of opportunities.
  • The Olloclip Core for the iPhone 7/8 and 7+/8+ includes a Super-Wide and a Fisheye, with a 15X macro lens lurking under the Fisheye. I find myself using the macro more than the other two lenses.

Macro lenses.

  • Moment New Macro gives you 10x of truly sharp magnification with a 25mm⇔ lens that focuses down to .7 "
  • Olloclip Macro Pro If you want to work close, here's a whole set of macro lengths: 7x, 14x and 21x.

Anamorphic lens.

One final anomaly in the lens space is the Moondog Labs Anamorphic Lens for the iPhone 7/8, iPhone 7+/8+ This is a 1.33x lens that squeezes a 16:9 image into a standard photo. The advantage over just cropping is that this lens gives you landscape images with full-height resolution. It requires desqueezing the width in software. More intended for cinema video with apps like FiLMiC Pro, this lens can do excellent panoramic stills and the unsqueezed images have a cool thinning effect.

Moment cases.

Moment lenses require mounting, with the most practical options being the Case for the iPhone 7+/8+ and the Case for the iPhone 7/8. These are both thin enough to be used as your daily case. The iPhone X case will work with these lenses, but is not available yet.

Index


Scope mounts.

The folks at PhoneSkope make this awkward looking adapter to attach binoculars, monoculars, field scopes and telescopes to your iPhone 7/8 or iPhone 7+/8+. Scope mounts are a whole other rabbit hole, but I'll note that if you don't have really good optics ($200+) attached to your phone, you'll be disappointed with the results.

Index


Filters.

Most of the filters available for the iPhone don't work with the iPhone Plus models’ dual lenses. But if you’re using Moment lenses, Moondog Labs 52mm Mount lets you use standard 52mm photo filters on the Tele and Macro. The most useful filters is a Circular Polarizer for removing reflections, saturating colors and enlivening the sky. This effect is hard to duplicate in editing.

Index


Tripod mounts.

To anchor your camera firmly, you'll need a mount that connects to a standard tripod. Fortunately there are scads of good ones available.

  • For cool factor alone the Manfrotto TwistGrip is my fave. It's all-metal design is not quite as stable as the other options here, but it folds flat in your pocket, stands on it's own and has a cold shoe mount for attaching a light or a mic.
  • Studio Neat's Glif has an quick-lock and three tripod mounts for attaching gizmos.
  • Shoulderpod G1 is the bulkiest of the batch, but also lightweight and stands on it's own.

All the above mounts let you attach your iPhone standard or plus model securely to a standard 1/4"x20 tripod screw.

Index


Tripods.

As mentioned, all conventional tripods can be used with the iPhone 7+ and the above mounts, so I won't get into the zillions available. Here are a few I've found really useful.

  • The Manfrotto Compact Tripod is inexpensive, sturdy and very easy to extend and collapse. The pistol-grip head is the easiest to operate of any tripod available.
  • The Sirui T-005KX Travel Tripod is a pro-grade, full-size tripod, great for studio as well. It's big advantage is that folds up to a foot long and weighs a little over 2 lbs, so it's an excellent hiking tripod that tucks in the bottom of a day pack.
  • The Ultra-Pod is a table-top tripod that's incredibly versatile. You can use it legs closed with the attached Velcro strap to attach to a pole when there's nothing horizontal nearby.
  • Woods Power Grip Camera Mount lets you attach your iPhone to the inside of your windshield or any glass surface. It's useful for blur shots in the car with long exposure apps like Bluristic, Slow Shutter! by Lucky Clan or NightCap.

Index


Lights.

The built-in flash is really useful since it’s always with you, but there are more serious pocketable lighting options.

  • An inch and a half square, Lume Cube pumps out 1500 Lumens, 100-watt bulb⇔. It has 10 power settings, but the tiny LED is so bright you'll need to bounce it or diffuse it to avoid blinding subjects. A [kit]9http://j.mp/2yxPvuo) with a housing is available as are diffusers, grids and filters for more serious photography. They can be used in multiple as constant lights or as flashes with the Lume Cube app.
  • iBlazr 2 Wireless Flash is a Bluetooth flash that snaps onto your iPhone or can be hand held. With the free Shotlight app you just tap the back of the flash as a remote shutter. It’s tiny and about as powerful as the built-in flash. Useful for macro photography.

Index


Bag.

The Tom Bihn Side Effect is the bag I find most useful. Yeah, it's pricey, but man is it useful. It can be worn with a strap over your shoulder, but I use mine as a waistpack with the optional belt strap. f you wear it around front, it's like having a drawer full of accessories right there. With all the toys we've talked about here, I haven't overstuffed mine yet (but it won't quite fit the Sirui travel tripod.)

Index


More on mastering your iPhone camera: The Crap-Free Guide to iPhone Photography




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