SandMarc iPhone Lenses Review

January 10, 2019 | Amy Davies | Accessory Reviews |

Introduction

SandMarc recently introduced two new lenses for its range of iPhone lenses – a wide-angle and a telephoto lens. The wide-angle lens gives you a 2x wider capture, while the telephoto lens edition, gives you a 2x zoom. The focal length will depend on which of your phone’s lens you attach them to.

Primarily designed for use with the iPhone, you can also attach the lenses to other phones using a clip system, giving you the flexibility to keep using the lenses even if you decide to switch to a different phone manufacturer.

At the time of writing, the Sandmarc Wide Lens edition retails for around US$89.99, while the Sandmarc Telephoto Lens edition retails for around US$99.99.

SandMarc iPhone Lenses - Ease of Use

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The SandMarc lenses are designed for iPhones, and as such, you can buy it with a specific iPhone model in mind. We have been using the lenses with the latest iPhone model, the iPhone XS.

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To facilitate the use with your iPhones, the lenses come with a case which you can attach to your iPhone. The lenses attach to the case, which means that you can leave the case on the phone when not using the lenses – this is a much better system than having to remove the entire case every time you want to switch between lenses. That said, the case is relatively thin and flimsy – and is also not hugely stylish – if you’ve already bought a case for your iPhone, it’s unlikely to be seen as a good replacement for it.

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The case includes two spaces for your lenses to attach – depending on which of the iPhone’s lenses you want to boost. To use them, simply screw in the spaces as appropriate. It’s important to note that the telephoto lens (or indeed the wide-angle lens, but that’s less of a problem) will not work with the iPhone XS’s 2x lens via the iPhone’s native camera app.

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This seems to be because the lens blocks the light sensor, which in turns prompts the iPhone XS to switch to using the wide-angle lens. According to some online reviews, the lens can be used with the 2x camera with some third-party apps, such as ProCamera.

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If you don’t have an iPhone, you can still use the Sandmarc lenses with whatever phone you do have. In the box, a clip is included, which you can attach the lenses to and simply place over your phone’s lenses. It’s a little bit more awkward to do this since the lenses don’t slot into exactly the right place, but on the plus side it makes them compatible with a wide range of different models – plus you can also use them with existing cases you might already own.

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Once the SandMarc iPhone Lenses have been slotted into place, in whichever way you see fit, you don’t need to do anything else other than use your phone camera in the normal way. You might find that if you’re using the clips method, that you need to keep an eye that the lenses haven’t slipped slightly – if they do you might not get the best shot possible.

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SandMarc iPhone Lenses - Image Quality

The SandMarc iPhone Lenses work best when attached to the iPhone case, rather than with other phones via the clip mechanism. For the purposes of this test, we used the Sandmarc lenses with an iPhone XS and a Huawei Mate 20 Pro in order to note the differences.

Images taken with the wide-angle lens on the iPhone XS are good – but if you examine closely you can see some instances of chromatic aberration along high contrast edges, that aren’t usually present when shooting purely with the iPhone’s lenses. If your only intent is to share your shots on Instagram and the like, it’s probably not going to be too much of a problem – but it’s definitely not something that will replace a “real” camera and lens set up.

Success was a bit more limited with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro – perhaps because the lenses would often slip slightly out of place, resulting in ever so slightly blurred images, or again noticeable chromatic aberration. If you can ensure the lenses are exactly square over the phone’s lenses, you get the best results.

One interesting effect was to put the Sandmarc wide angle lens over the Huawei’s ultra wide angle lens – resulting in fish-eye images. You might consider purchasing one for this effect if you particularly like the style of a spherical wide-angle shot.

SandMarc iPhone Lenses - Sample Images

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SandMarc iPhone Lenses - Conclusion

Lenses for smartphones always seem like more of a good idea than they perhaps are in reality. For many people, they are gimmicky, or an impulse purchase that only gets used once or twice before being consigned to a drawer.

There are some plus points to these lenses – the fact that it comes with a case meaning you can protect your phone at all times (although the case is a little on the flimsy side, and not particularly stylish) is a plus point if you’re using the lenses with your iPhone.

Not being able to use the telephoto lens with the iPhone’s 2x camera while working with the native camera app is a big shame, but as you can download third party apps to get around it, it’s not a huge deal breaker.

Of the two new lenses, the wide-angle lens is our favourite – and would be a good gift or extra for iPhone photographers who have a particular liking for shooting landscape type images.

If you’re somebody who does a lot of shooting with their smartphone and wants to increase their capabilities, the Sandmarc lenses are worth a look. They’re not cheap, so if you’re on a budget, you may want to think carefully about which lens suits your particular needs the most, depending on the type of photography you like.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 3.5
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 3.5
Image quality 3
Value for money 3


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