At the core of the ExoLens system is the machined aluminium bracket that attaches to the phone and that accepts the optics. The Bracket Frame, which launches today for the iPhone 7 is similar to previous versions. This has a gel liner that sits inside the machined aluminium bracket to cushion the phone and it slots onto the iPhone 7 spanning the width of the phone.
The bracket that I used on the iPhone 7 is called the Edge and it will be launched in January 2017. This smaller bracket pushes onto the top section of the iPhone and only covers the area around the camera lens.
Along with a screw thread which allows interchangeable optics to be attached, both brackets have a cold shoe for mounting accessories such as a microphone or light. Only the larger Bracket Frame, however, has a thread to allow the phone to be mounted on a tripod.
There are three ExoLens Pro lenses available for the iPhone 7 and each features optics from renowned lens manufacturer, Zeiss.
The ExoLens PRO Wide-Angle lens features a Zeiss Muta 0.6x Asph T* Wide-Angle lens and it transforms the iPhone 7’s 28mm equivalent lens into a 16.8mm optic. This means you get a much wider view.
Conversely, the ExoLens PRO Telephoto lens features a Zeiss Mutar™ 2.0x Asph T* lens. It turns the iPhone 7’s lens into the equivalent of a 56mm optic, enabling you to home-in on more distant subjects. It could be a good choice for shooting portraits, street photography and events.
The third lens is the ExoLens PRO Macro-Zoom lens and it features the Zeiss Vario-Proxar 40-80 T* macro-zoom lens. It has a variable focal length of 40 to 80mm and a ring on the optic functions like a manual focus ring.
If you want to shoot something that’s 3-5cm away, you turn the ring to the right as far as it will go.
Turning the ring to the left enables you to focus on objects that are 5-8cm away. As a result it’s possible to completely fill the image frame with objects measuring from 3-12cm, enabling small details to be made visible.
Buy the Zeiss ExoLens Wide-Angle Kit inc Bracket for iPhone 6/6s – £199.99 – Wex
Buy the Zeiss ExoLens Wide-Angle Kit inc Bracket for iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus – £199.99 – Wex
Buy the Zeiss ExoLens Bracket for iPhone 7/6/6s – £59.99
Buy the Zeiss ExoLens Telephoto Lens – £190 – Wex
ExoLens Pro Edge
The Edge arrives ready to be mounted on an iPhone 7, but it is also supplied with four alternative gel liners that enable it to be used with the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus and 6s Plus. The gel liner is simply pulled from the aluminium bracket and a new liner pushed home if necessary.
At first the Edge feels too tight to fit onto the iPhone 7, but steady pressure enables it to be slid on from the side. After you’ve fitted the Edge a couple of times you should find that you’re able to slip it on and off the phone quickly.
Once it’s in place with the hole perfectly centred over the camera lens, you can screw-in the optic. It can be a bit of a fiddle to screw the lens into the bracket, especially if you’ve got cold hands, but on most occasions I found that it threaded smoothly and was fitted pretty quickly.
Fitting the Edge demands that any case is removed. It also creates a shift in the balance of the phone, especially once a lens is attached, as there’s weight added to the corner with the camera.
The iPhone 7 is a slippery customer without a case and the weight in the corner made me worry that it might slip out of my hand more easily than normal. Thankfully I didn’t drop it during several hours of testing.
ExoLens Pro Wide-Angle
I used the Edge with the ExoLens Pro Wide-Angle. As soon as you pick-up the Wide-Angle optic you realise that there’s some proper glass inside. The lens is small by 35mm camera standards, but it’s weighty.
It’s also good to see that the lens is supplied with a metal lens hood that screws onto the optic barrel.
I’m a fan of wide-angle photography so the ExoLens Pro Wide-Angle was a good choice for me, I like being able to include more in the frame. These two images were shot from the same point with and without the lens on the iPhone 7 to show the impact.
I’m impressed by the quality of the results that’s possible with the ExoLens Pro Wide-Angle on the iPhone 7. Edge-to-edge detail levels are high and there’s little sign of distortion even when photographing subjects with lots of straight lines. Fringing is also controlled well and there’s no noticeable vignetting (corner shading).
In addition, flare is kept under control very well, even when the sub is close to the edge of the image frame.
ExoLens Pro for iPhone Review: Verdict
If you’re looking to extend the range of images that you can capture with your iPhone, the ExoLens Pro is a great voice.
The image quality produced by the ExoLens Pro Wide-Angle is very good and save for the change in the angle of view, there’s little change noticeable in the quality of the results from the iPhone 7.
Bear in mind, however, that using the ExoLens means that any case must be removed and that the weight of the optics changes the balance of the phone.