What is the best lens kit for the iPhone 6?

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We conducted an entire weekend of testing to put five different lens kits through their paces and find out which one will take the best photos on your iPhone 6. Our top pick for you budding iPhone photographers is the CamKix iPhone 6/6S lens kit, which has the perfect balance of price, utility, and performance.

Our recommendation: The CamKix iPhone 6/6S lens kit

With the perfect mix of performance, versatility, and price, this CamKix lens kit has everything you need to take your iPhone photography to another level.

Find it at Amazon

Runner up: The ExoLens iPhone 6/6S lens kit

Great photo quality, excellent construction, and more portable than the CamKix.

Find it at Amazon

Contents

How we found the best lens kits
The top five iPhone 6 lens kits
How we tested each lens kit
Why use lenses with your iPhone 6?
What to look for in a lens kit
What our tests showed
The best lens kit for the iPhone 6
Other great lens kits
The bottom line

How we found the best lens kits

If you spend much time on photography websites and forums (and we do), you will be aware that the quality of the picture is strongly affected by the lens used on the camera. Many of the best photographs taken on mobile phones use extra lenses attached to the phone to boost their quality and creativity.

We wanted to find out what lenses were used to take these amazing pictures, and we started off by looking through our favourite photographers on /r/photography forum. From there we compiled a shortlist of the top lenses used to create photos that we admired and we then found the lens kits on Amazon that these lenses originally came from.

Our research showed that lenses can give a huge boost to phone photography, as long as they are used correctly (our guide to iPhone photography has contains everthing you need to know to get the most out of your iPhone's camera). In particular, macro and telephoto lenses are very powerful, and tripods are critical to achieving the best photo quality.

We settled on a shortlist of five different lens kits. Two are endorsed by Apple, the olloclip and the ExoLens, although as we shall see an endorsement doesn't means that these lens kits are necessarily the best. We also looked at three alternatives made by one of the top phone lens manufacturers, CamKix.

The top five iPhone 6 lens kits

How we tested each lens kit

We put each lens kit through its paces on a regular iPhone 6, paying attention to photo quality, ease of use, and build quality, as well as less crucial factors such as portability and price.

Of our rating criteria, photo quality was our most heavily weighted, but also the most difficult to measure. We carefully examined photos taken with every lens in each kit on a variety of subjects, looking for image imperfections such as excessive vignetting and out-of-focus blur.

Why use lenses with your iPhone 6?

The iPhone 6 has one of the best cameras available in a smartphone. However like all phones, it is limited by space. Because the body of the iPhone is so small, Apple could only fit a small lens and sensor into the phone. While this is sufficient for mid-quality, medium distance photographs, you will struggle to take pictures of things that are far away or close-up, and have little control over the optical zoom or field of view.

Of course, you could compensate for these shortcomings by buying an expensive (and heavy) DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses, but in our experience these are a pain to carry around for most people. The law of averages says that you'll get more good photos from an iPhone that's always on you than from a professional grade camera that you only take out on rare occasions.

The solution that we prefer is to carry around a couple of lenses that increase the versatility of our iPhone's camera. With a macro lens small enough to fit in a wallet, you can get great close-up photos, and a slightly larger telephoto lens you can magnify distant objects or animals without losing image quality (unlike digital zoom).

What to look for in a lens kit

There are a few things to watch out for when buying accessory lenses for an iPhone.

First, you want to make sure that you buy a high-quality lenses. Poorly made lenses will dirty the light as it passes through them, creating noisy, unclear pictures.

Second, look carefully at the lens distortion introduced by each lens. Lenses distort light to fit different images onto your phone's camera sensor, and this can create a different focal point for different part of the image. For example, you might find that the outside of the image is out-of-focus when using an external zoom lens.

This distortion effect is almost impossible to avoid with phone lenses. Even DSLR lenses costing $1000s can have these problems, so it would be unreasonable to expect that a <$50 iPhone kit would avoid it. However, some lens kits are worse than others, so its important to pick carefully.

Test results

Because we only reviewed high quality lens kits, all the lenses we tested produced good images, with relatively little difference in image quality. However, some of the kits were a lot easier to use than others.

All the kits we compared contained macro and wide-angle lenses. As we have noted elsewhere, macro lenses are one of the most worthwhile investments for a phone camera and universally took high quality photos in all the kits we tested. The olloClip kit contains two different macro lenses, but this is one of the few advantages of this kit. The wide-angle lenses were more variable in quality, and produced a little distortion at the edges of the photos. We found the least distortion using the CamKix and ExoLens wide-angle lenses.

A fish-eye lens was available in the CamKix and olloClip kits. Both were susceptible to focusing problems around the image edges due to the excessive light bending required to get a fish-eye image. While a cool effect, we don't feel that any of these lenses are selling points for these kits alone, especially as you can simulate a fish-eye effect with many photography apps.

The main distinguishing factor between kits is the telephoto lens (designed to magnify distant objects). Every kit except olloClip and CamKix 3-in-1 contained a telephoto lens, but they varied in magnification. The CamKix iPhone 6 specific kit contains a 8x telephoto which is great for portraits and wildlife photography but is considerably bulkier than other lenses. The other kits contain much smaller but less powerful telephotos. While these will decrease the depth of focus (creating a blurry background), they won't magnify distant objects significantly.

The best lens kit for the iPhone 6

It was a tough choice, but we eventually plumped for the CamKix iPhone 6/6s specific kit. Not only does it contain the greatest range of lenses, but it has its own case which the lenses screw directly into, and a tripod for stabilizing your phone. It is also significantly cheaper than the other kits.

READ: Our full review of the CamKix iPhone 6/6s lens kit.

We would also recommend pairing it with a shutter remote (such as the Gadgin Bluetooth Remote Shutter) so that you can use the tripod without touching the screen (and avoid camera wobble).

One disadvantage of this kit is that it is relatively bulky thanks to the telephoto lens and accessories: it will fit in a small bag, but not a pocket. If that's important to you, then check out our next two recommendations.

Other great lens kits

For portability: The ExoLens kit

The ExoLens kit also comes with a phone case that its four lenses screw into. The macro and wide-angle lenses are comparable to any other lens kit, but it's small telephoto will allow magnification and reduced depth of focus that make it ideal for portraits while still being portable.

Although its the most expensive of the lens kits we reviewed, the high quality of the photos and contruction make it worth it.

For compatibility and price: The CamKix 5-in-1 Universal Lens Kit

Unlike our previous two recommendations, this kit attaches via a clip. This allows it to attach to cameras of different shapes (great if you are thinking of upgrading to an iPhone 7 in the near future), and also means that you can keep your prefered phone case.

Unlike the olloClip kit, which uses a similar system, the CamKix will fit over most phone cases, and it won't scratch your phone.

Added bonus: its significantly cheaper than our other recommendations.

The bottom line

A good lens kit is the best way to improve the quality of your photos without forking out hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for a DSLR. You'll get a portable and versatile camera, capable of shooting wildlife, landscapes, portraits, and macro photography.

If none of our recommendations take your fancy, then there are plenty of other lens kits available on Amazon. Just take care to read the reviews carefully and make sure that the lenses are high quality and will not add significant distortion to your photos.

About the author

Helen Alonso

Originally from Scotland, Helen now enjoys the beautiful scenery of the Rockie Mountains in the USA. Phone of choice: Samsung Galaxy.