I first saw the Kase mobile phone lenses at the Photography Show, Birmingham in March. I didn't really get a chance to try them out, however immediately had an interest in them for two main reasons. First, at the Skye Photo Academy we run Phone Camera Workshops, so know these will be great for our customers to use to get some different from the norm shots with their phones. Also, my fiancée prefers taking photographs with her iPhone, and know she will have a lot of fun with them.
So I asked Andy at Kase UK if it would be possible to try the lenses out and do a review on them, and he instantly said 'yes'. He also mentioned that Kase did a tripod for mobile phones, and that he would be able to get hold of one for me to try out alongside the lenses.
Kase currently produce four lenses for mobile phones, a 7.5mm fisheye wich gives a 238° angle of view, a 16mm wide angle, a 10x magnification macro lens and a 65mm telephoto lens. When purchased as a kit, the lenses are stored inside a single zip closure case, whilst when purchased separately, each lense is stored in its own zip closure case. The lenses screw on to a clamp which then attaches to your phone, and have rubber/plastic attached to stop the clamp from causing any damage.
They also produce a small travel style tripod which will hold your mobile phone in place for extra stability.
In The Field
After receiving a set of lenses and tripod from Kase UK, my fiancée and I headed out into the field to try them out. On this particular day the conditions were not ideal, however I did get some shots of Clare using the kit. This shot shows the tripod legs fully extended, which is around 32 inches (81 cm), whilst with the centre column full extended it reaches a height of 39 inches (99 cm). Folded, the tripod measures 9.5 inches (24 cm) in length.
To make the tripod compact when carrying, the legs fold in on themselves, so when you are ready to use it you simply fold them back to the normal position. The tripod legs are telescopic so you extend them simply by turning the bottom of each leg by around 180° and pulling the sections out, then turning the bottom in the opposite direction to dial in the height you want. The tripod height can be increased by firstly extending the centre column then twisting the head and pulling out a further section of the centre column.
The phone is attached to the tripod using a clamp which attaches to a ball head which you then use to adjust your composition.
When attaching the clamp to your phone and subsequently attaching the lens to the clamp, you of course need to make sure the lens lines up with your camera. This can seem a little fiddly to begin with, because if you don’t manage to line everything properly, you will notice a significant loss in image quality. The best way I have found to do this is to attach the clamp to your phone with the lens attached, look down through the lens, and when you see your phones camera lens, they are most likely lined up. Of course the best way to make sure they are lined up is to take a test shot and check it.
I find it a bit fiddly to change lenses when the phone is attached to the tripod, so I usually remove the phone from the tripod clamp, remove the existing lens then screw the new one on with the phone screen facing down.
Image Quality and Conclusion
Now, the main thing to mention here is that these lenses are being attached in front of the lens of your mobile phone, so there is bound to be some drop-off in quality. For me the image quality is acceptable with just a small amount of softness at the edges, which could also be caused by the lens not being lined up properly with the phones camera lens.
For me, the Kase lenses and tripod are great for someone who doesn’t have a ‘regular’ camera or simply don't want to have their 'regular' camera with them, and want to expand their mobile photography. The tripod isn’t exactly a necessity, however attaching a lens to the phone does add a bit more weight so you may find it more stable on the tripod. Also, you can get apps which allow you to take long exposure shots, so the tripod is pretty much a necessity for that.
My fiancée liked the lenses and tripod so much that I purchased her a set as an early birthday present.
The kit of four lenses, individual lenses and tripod can be purchased directly through my website here Kase Mobile Phone Lens Kit.
Below are some sample images taken using the four mobile lenses, along with an image showing the same scene without the lens attached in a couple of the examples.