Top positive review
101 people found this helpful
A great tool to have
on 31 May 2014
Let's get something right out of the way: I hate changing phone covers for anything. The less I feel that my precious iPhone is in peril from slipping to the hard floor due to a change of covers, the better. As such, in searching for for a set of lenses that would fit my iPhone as-is, and not as-the-sellers-would-like-it-to-be was paramount. And I found that such item in this Xsource kit.
It arrived today and I immediately got my hands on it... But not without one of the lenses dropping to the floor two times in my most careful handling of them. We'll get to that in a second.
FIRST EXPERIENCE AND OVERLOOK:
First of all, the item came neatly packaged in a see-through white plastic bag with all the parts inside. No brainstorming here, everything is fairly intuitive.
There was a little black bag, the clip and the lenses themselves. I was pleasantly surprised by how sturdy the clip felt. It didn't feel flimsy, it didn't feel hard to handle... It felt right. It seemed robust enough for its purpose, given its size, and it won't ever damage your phone, as two discrete pieces of rubber, one on each side, prevent it from it ever being too forceful, giving it the right pressure to just hang on. Nice.
Also the lenses themselves seem very well built, with a nice solid coat of red paint on top. The whole kit just feels well built.
By instinct, I immediately grabbed the bigger lens, which was the fish eye. I screwed it on the clip, clipped the clip to my iPhone, and voila. The world was now a much bigger place... With a handful of reddish corners. But I will approach that in a bit.
Then I moved on to the other two lenses - i.e. macro and wide lens - which were already screwed together. Good enough. So I take the fisheye out of the clip and screw this set on it. (Please note that you only really get a wide angle effect if both the macro and the wide lens are screwed together). And all of a sudden, after a little bit of screwing, the wide angle lens drop to the floor. "Oops! Clumsy me", I thought. So I tried it again. And it drops again. And I'm just thinking "what am I doing wrong?"
Time and time again I keep trying to "rescrew" both lenses together, but seemingly to no success. And just for kicks, I decide to invert the direction of the rotation. "Ah!... Now we're getting somewhere!" And so both lenses are now together.
What does this amount to? That, for some reason, the manufacturer thought it would be wiser to all of a sudden invert something that's usually so intuitive as screwing something on to something else.
Looking at it, I'm imagining the manufacturer was trying to avoid the hurdle of two pieces rotating out separately as you're trying to just get the wide angle lens out in order to use the macro. Fair enough. But having explained this reversed technique, when you're tightening the set to the clip, you must be careful that the wide angle lens doesn't screw itself out to where it might drop, as it happened to me. You have to rotate it slow enough to get to that sweet spot of stability. This amounts to a rather needless and delicate balance when you're screwing this set to use it as a wide angle. And in photography, where moments are fleeting, this isn't very good.
As I mentioned, I ordered this kit for my iPhone, even though it's compatible with plenty other smartphones on the market. My iPhone 4S is a bit thicker than the current 5S, but I don't feel like it hindered anything when it comes to its usability.
I tried these lenses in four different "configurations", if you will. The iPhone 4S, partially due to some hindrances in the new iOS 7 operating system varies between wide angle look in picture mode and a more traditional 50 mm in video mode. As anyone with an iPhone knows, this creates some obstacles. In this case, though, it creates some solutions.
In picture mode, back facing camera:
1. Starting by the weaker of the bunch, the fisheye is really just for kicks. It can create that spur of the moment distorted view of the world that's good for an Instagram shot. The problem here, as I alluded to earlier, is the very visible red corners stemming from the short diameter in a lens like this. Also, a greater problem, is lots of blur in the outer rims, and just a general lack of overall definition. In this particular mode, it's fun to play around with, but only for brief moments, or periods of time.
2. The wide angle (which, I repeat, is a product of both the macro and the wide angle lens screwed on together) is fairly good. Definitely good enough to get that extra foot or so that the iPhone conventionally doesn't allow when you're trying to take pictures. There is, however, some vignetting (little dark blurry corners), which isn't very pleasing to the eye, or the overall shot. As much as you move it around, there's always going to be a bit of a black, blurry circumference getting in the way.
3. The macro lens. STELLAR. I could not say good enough things about this little insignificantly-looking beast. I took a picture of its sibling, the fisheye, and you can see all the way down to the grains of ink. I took a picture of my cat's name tag on its collar, and you can see the PIXELS of the letters, all the while showing his perfectly shaped fur. It caught a detail that the naked eye doesn't see. Damn near perfect, but great definition. Used right, it can produce some killer shots of very small objets, or objects within a very short distance.
Picture mode, front-facing camera
1. The fisheye. Again, good, but not great. Same as before.
2. The wide angle. A bit of an improvement here, great for selfies for your favorite social network.
3. The macro. Unless you want to take a picture of the hairs in your nose, it really serves no purpose in this camera.
Video mode, back-facing camera:
1. The fisheye. Much better! The shortened distance as by defauly in iOS actually takes the corners away and allows you to focus on whatever you're shooting. There is a bit of blur in the corners, still, but nothing that takes away from the overall shot. (And frankly, if you're willing to have a distorted shot in using a fisheye lens, what's a little blur anyway?)
2. The wide angle. Again, for the same reason above, the shot in this mode is much clearer. Little to no obstruction at all.
3. The macro. This beauty works great here too.
Video mode, front-facing camera:
1. The fisheye. If you clip your iPhone to a suction mount in your car, it will definitelly be good for some first person GoPro-like action shots. (As much action as a mounted iPhone can endure, anyway). Definitelly good for a video of two or three poeple in the same shot at once.
2. The wide angle. It's now my new favorite toy! Let me be clear about this, with as much emphasis as I can muster: this mode ALONE makes the whole kit not only worthy to have, but worthy to carry everywhere. Particularly if you're the video blogger sort, like myself, and you know that physical space is a luxury that the conventional front-facing lens on the iPhone 4S hinders. Because of this, this baby will now be with me everywhere. Thank you, Xsource.
3. The macro lens. Still looking to make of a video of your nose's hairs?
In either mode, NO vignetting, whatsoever.
All in all, this is a great tool to add to your arsenal, if you're not an overly demanding photographer or videographer, but rather want decent shots, for a low price, with a piece of gear that takes little to no space.
It's a great price, the build is sturdy (to a point. Some common sense for handling small objects is required) and every one of these lenses does as advertised: they either offer a more intimate look into your object, or a vaster look. That much is guaranteed. It's the way you go about it that may produce different results.
Overall, I'm pleasantly surprised. I will be carrying this with me every time I go on a weekend or on holiday, as I'm sure to capture some really great stuff.
It's a great tool to have.