Kamerar Zoom Lens Kit for iPhone 7 Plus review
If you're shopping for accessory lenses, for most iPhone models the choice can be overwhelming. The lenses on offer range from cheap plastic variants for very little money to hefty high-quality glass in metal bodies that require a three-figure investment. However, the situation is slightly different for Apple's current flagship, the iPhone 7 Plus. Because of the unique design of its dual-camera there are currently still very few attachment lenses on the market. That said, we've had a chance to have a closer look at one of the first available options, the Kamerar Zoom Lens kit.
For $50 the kit includes a protective case for the iPhone, two lens modules that slide into the case and two small protective lens-cases. The first module combines a fisheye-adapter for the iPhone's wide-angle lens with a tele-converter for the longer lens in the dual-cam. The fisheye offers a 160 degree angle of view and the converter comes with a 1.5x zoom factor, giving the 7 Plus tele lens a total zoom factor of 3x when compared to the wide-angle. The second module has two macro lenses that apply a 10x magnification to both iPhone camera lenses.
|The complete kit consists of the phone case and two lens modules with a little protective case for each.|
Operation and build quality
Apart from the little plastic rails that the lens modules slide on, the Kamerar-case looks like most plastic phone cases and offers access to all ports. The case's slightly shiny tile design is pretty much a matter of taste, but with its understated gray tones should work for most.
Build-quality is pretty much in line with the price point. The plastic material looks a little cheap but the construction of the individual pieces is solid. Attaching and removing the lens modules is very easy but moving them in position in front of the iPhone camera and back requires a little bit of force. When not in use the lens modules can be stored in their cases, protecting them from scratching.
One important thing to consider when shooting with the Kamerar kit has nothing to do with the lenses but with the iPhone camera. As we found in our review, below a certain brightness threshold the iPhone 7 Plus camera switches from its tele lens to the wide-angle and applies digital zoom. When shooting with just the phone this switch is hardly noticeable and you usually only find out when looking at images on a big screen or checking EXIF-data.
However, the impact is much more noticeable with the Kamerar lenses attached. If you are using the tele-converter in low light and the iPhone camera switches to the wide-angle, you end up with a 2x digitally zoomed version of the fisheye image, which isn't really what you want. To avoid this it's best to use the kit with a camera app that lets you force the camera to use the tele-lens, even in lower light, for example Camera+ or Manual Camera.
Image quality varies between the conversion lenses. The tele-converter is capable of producing surprisingly sharp images, but photos taken with the fisheye look noticeably softer when viewed up close. All pictures are perfectly usable for social media and similar purposes though. The macro converters produce decent results as well, though as you would expect, the tele-version offers visibly better magnification.
When using the macro lenses the challenge mainly lies in keeping the device as still as possible. You have to get very close to the subject for the lenses to focus and motion on any axis will lead to camera shake and/or focus shift, and therefore blurry images. Overall the Kamerar Zoom Lens kit offers good image quality, especially when considering the affordable price point.
The two samples below illustrate how the fisheye allows you to capture large objects or the interior of small rooms when there is no space to go further back. The fisheye images look a little soft up close, but color and tonality hardly change compared to the standard image without attachment lens.
|iPhone 7 Plus wideangle, ISO 20, 1/2660|
|iPhone 7 Plus wide-angle with Kamerar fisheye, ISO 20, 1/3546|
The tele-converter only offers a 1.5x zoom factor over the iPhone's built-in tele lens. The difference in terms of angle of view is not massive but the lens is certainly useful when photographing objects further away and the image output is surprisingly sharp. Again, the attachment lens doesn't noticeably alter tones and color.
|iPhone 7 Plus tele lens, ISO 20, 1/595s|
|iPhone 7 Plus tele lens with Kamerar tele-converter, ISO 20, 1/736s|
The Macro lenses allow you to get really close to your subjects and, with the right subjects, for some interesting shots. Just make sure you have plenty of light and / or hold the camera very still, otherwise you'll inevitably end up with shaky images. If the focus plane is in the right place, the macro lenses are capable of capturing detailed images though.
|iPhone 7 Plus wide-angle with Kamerar 10x macro converter, ISO 40, 1/17 sec|
|iPhone 7 Plus tele lens with Kamerar 10x macro converter, ISO 320, 1/50 sec|
With the macro module, the fact that the the iPhone camera switches lenses in lower light can actually work in your favor. The wide-angle has a shorter minimum-focus distance and combined with a 2x digital zoom captures the subject larger in the frame than tele + macro.
|iPhone 7 Plus wide-angle with Kamerar 10x macro converter and 2x digital zoom, ISO 32, 1/25 sec|
The Kamerar Zoom Lens Kit is currently one of the few options for mobile photographers who want to use attachment lenses on the iPhone 7 Plus dual-camera. It's entirely made out of plastic but feels solid and is very easy to use. As far as smartphone accessory lenses go, the image quality is decent across all four lenses. The kit is currently available for $35 on Amazon.com. Whether attachment lenses have been part of your arsenal for a long time, or you just feel like trying them out, at this price point you can't go wrong with the Kamerar Kit.
What we like:
- Easy to use design
- Affordable kit
- Relatively good image quality
What we don't like:
- Unexpected results when iPhone camera app switches to wide-angle in low light
- A little force is needed to move lenses into position
- Macro lenses require a very steady hand
There are 14 images in our Kamerar Zoom Lens Kit samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution.
May 18, 2017
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