MPJ iPhone camera lens kit review

I've been having a lot of fun with my iPhone lately!

I love to shoot with my iPhone.  When I travel, I am constantly taking shots of this and that while I roam around, even as I stop and take shots with my “real camera”.  There’s just something satisfying about taking a quick snap with the iPhone, making some adjustments in your app of choice, and sharing it with friends and family.  So much fun.  Plus, I find that I am shooting things a bit differently with the iPhone than I would otherwise.  It’s a great creative outlet, and a great way to explore new techniques and compositions.

And since I do this quite a bit, I have accumulated a pretty large collection of iPhone shots on my Flickr page, where I keep them in this set, in case you would like to see them.  While that is only a fraction of what I actually have taken, it’s a good example of what I am talking about here. And even though they get a lot of views, I’ve never really given any thought to them being anything other than just a quick mobile upload.  It’s usually just something I saw and shared (although I tend to edit them first, normally in Snapseed).

Recently I was contacted by the people at MPJ regarding their camera lens kit for iPhone 6/6S.  They found me on Flickr and asked me if I was willing to test out their camera lens kit on my iPhone and share my thoughts about it.  I was clear that I would be honest about the product and in my thoughts about it, and they agreed.  So, today’s post is a review of that product with a lot of sample images.

TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read) version: this is a nice kit, works exactly as advertised, and adds some extra fun elements to the already fun camera that is the iPhone.  I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with this kit and I am glad that I now have it to experiment with!

For starters, it comes in a nice box.  That might sound like a stupid or useless fact, but I really mean it.  It was a nice box, and for a piece of kit that sells for about $40 on Amazon, I didn’t expect that.  You know what they say about first impressions.  This started off well.

The kit includes a number of lenses and more, so here is a complete list:

  1. telephoto lens with manual focus
  2. fish eye lens
  3. macro lens
  4. wide angle lens
  5. universal holder
  6. hard plastic case for iPhone 6/6S (which is required to use because lenses attach to it)
  7. mini tripod
  8. velvet bag
  9. lens caps
  10. cleansing cloth
  11. instruction manual

I find that long of a list to be impressive considering the cost.  It’s a great value.  And altogether, I suspect this stuff adds up to about 1 pound of weight, roughly.  It’s all pretty small and light.  You can easily carry it with you in another photo bag, or if you carry a purse or backpack it would take up limited space.  I actually stuff it all in a tiny zippered bag that I put in my larger photo backpack.  Small and light, so it’s easy to travel with.  When I get somewhere and want some iPhone shots, it’s a quick job to attach whichever lens I want and start shooting.

Additionally, everything feels like it is really well made.  It’s all very solid and sturdy feeling.  I don’t worry at all about the quality here - it is evident immediately.

Of course, my interest lies more in how well it performs in the field.  While iPhone images aren’t the backbone of my photography work, they are quite fun and I want to make sure they are something I like and am proud enough to share - and I hope that I continue to use my iPhone for imaging for years to come.

To summarize, these lenses all performed well for me and I enjoyed each of them for different reasons, though I admit I like some better than others.  Let’s examine them all individually (and I have included sample images for informational purposes).

The telephoto lens - 12x zoom is farther than you think!

This is by far the largest of the lenses, which makes sense.  It gives you some pretty serious reach, photographically speaking, and adds the ability to manually focus (which also makes sense).  It provides 12x magnification from the standard iPhone view.  I’m not sure if 12x sounds like much, but when you attach it and see how much further you can see through it, it’s pretty amazing.  

It’s just over 3 inches long, and you screw it onto the hard plastic iPhone case.  The area on the iPhone case where it attaches (right in front of the iPhone camera, of course) is threaded and the lens just screws into it.  Easy.

Once you put it on and open up the camera, you will immediately see how much zoom this lens has.  To be clear, it is a fixed focal length lens so you cannot zoom in and out with it.  But it does cover a great distance, so anytime you want to see something way off in the distance, this is a great option.

This lens is the reason for the mini tripod that is included.  While I like the little tripod, it’s just that - little.  It’s basically a tabletop tripod with extendible legs - fully extended it is less than a foot tall.  It is great if you take product shots at home or something like that, but I tend to take travel images, so this wasn’t super useful to me.  

Being out in the field, I rarely have a good place to set this mini tripod, so it ended up on the ground.  But down there I find it hard to get in a position where I can clearly make out what the camera is displaying.  Thus, I haven’t used it a lot, though I can say that it holds the iPhone steady, which is the point.

The telephoto lens works exactly as you would expect, and with the manual focus it’s easy to focus on whatever subject you have chosen.  Personally, this was my least favorite lens of the bunch.  To be clear, it works great and the reach is incredible - I just found that I enjoyed the other ones better.  That’s likely due to the creativity the others inspired in me and in no way is a reflection on the quality of this lens.

A shot of the Austin skyline, with no lens attached

The skyline again, with no lens attached

A closeup of the Frost Bank Building in downtown Austin, shot from the same spot as the photo on the left

A railroad track crossing the river in Austin, shot from the same spot as the photo on the left

The fisheye lens - talk about a fun lens!

As the name implies (and just like other fisheye lenses), this one gives you a very interesting rounded view of things (a 180 degree view) and is actually my favorite lens of the group (almost rivaled by the macro lens).  It’s very experimental and fun to attach the fisheye and just fire away.  There is a strong vignette on the image, but it’s fun and that isn’t a bother to me at all.  It’s just part of the art of the fisheye effect.  

The lens is about the size of a quarter, at least in diameter, and less than 1 inch tall.  Small, light, easy to travel with, and fun.  You could easily just carry this in your pocket, either attached to the plastic case they provide, or just loose in your pocket.  And to be clear, it just screws onto the hard plastic case the same as the zoom lens does.

On a couple of recent outings, I found myself using this lens more than any other.  Once I attached it, I found it hard to remove.  Not physically - it just unscrews quite easily.  I mean that it was just so fun that I didn’t want to remove it!  

Perhaps I am in a honeymoon phase or something, but I just really got into the fun of using a fisheye and the creative compositions you can conjure up when using one.  I really feel like this is the lens I will use the most, though they all have their merits.

The macro lens - get in real close!

I thought that the macro lens was done in an interesting way.  Instead of screwing it onto the case like the zoom and fisheye lenses, it is mounted on a clip bracket that you attach to the case.  You just line up the lens with the camera eye, clip it to the plastic iPhone case, and presto!  You have a macro lens. 

I wasn’t sure how well this was going to work until I tried it, but it does work well.  Of course you have to make sure it is lined up properly, but that is simple.  FYI that the focusing distance is incredibly close.  It took me a bit to figure that out, because everything looked blurry - because I wasn’t close enough.  

Once I got in closer it all worked great.  This is a pretty fun lens too, because there are a million things you can shoot in macro that you would normally never pay attention to.  Again, a nice creative boost to your iPhone photography.  It’s quite fun, and also small enough to carry around in your pocket.

I find myself looking much closer at things now and experimenting with this macro lens.  I would say this one is my #2 out of the 4 lenses in this kit.  Again, it’s very different and allows for interesting views of things, so I think that’s what attracts me to it.

The wide angle lens

This one gave me fits for a while, but not because the lens didn’t work.  It works great.  My issue was that I kept trying to attach it to the hard iPhone case, just like I did with the zoom lens.  It wouldn’t fit, so I assumed I was doing something wrong, though of course I didn’t know what it was.

Finally, I got onto Amazon and read about the product, and found out that the wide angle lens actually screws onto the front of the macro lens, and once screwed on there you just clip it to the hard iPhone case like you did for the macro lens.  That’s my one “complaint” (in quotes since it’s not a product issue) - I saw no documentation anywhere that explained how you connect the wide angle.  Then again, it wasn’t too hard to figure out after a little online research.

One more thing about attaching the wide angle.  When you screw it onto the macro lens clip, note that it screws in counter-clockwise (to the left).  Perhaps that is standard in other cultures, but in the US we screw things in clockwise (to the right - hence the expression lefty-loosey, righty-tighty - just a silly American expression).  Oddly, the zoom lens screws in clockwise so that was my expectation for this one too, since that is the “normal” way to do it for me.  That was another reason why I couldn’t figure out where it attaches, and I did not find anything about this in the documentation.  Anyways, it’s all solved now and everything works fine, and I am out shooting and having fun with this kit.

Summary

I have really enjoyed this kit and it has sparked some creative stuff for me with my iPhone photography.  I am mostly using the fisheye and the macro, so I find myself leaving home with the hard plastic case on my iPhone and the fisheye, macro and wide angle in my pocket.  That way if I see something interesting, I can just grab a lens from my pocket, quickly attach it, and I am off and creating something interesting.

In summary, I find this kit to be made in a high quality manner out of sturdy materials.  The lenses perform well, especially considering how small the entire kit is, and they offer up some great creative possibilities that extend the usefulness of your iPhone camera.  You can easily take them along when traveling and find new ways to shoot with your iPhone, and capture things you could never capture before.  I will continue to use this product and definitely think it is worth the $40 if you want some new options for your iPhoneography!

Full disclosure:  I received this kit at no charge, as MPJ asked me to review it and share my thoughts.  Apart from the kit, I did not receive any compensation for this review, and this is not a sponsored post (that is, they did not pay me to write this - I am sharing my experiences with it in exchange for the product).  All thoughts on the product are my own, based on my experiences with it thus far.  I made it clear to MPJ prior to accepting the product that I would be in honest in my review, and they agreed.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

If you are interested in this product, you can find it on Amazon here.  It sells for about $40.

Have fun out there shooting!