Friday, April 22, 2011

Photojojo iPhone Telephoto Lens

I love to take photos with my iPhone – and I've taken thousands. One thing that I really wish the iPhone could do better is zoom. In photography, there are two types of zoom: digital zoom and optical zoom.

Digital zoom simply blows up pixels. If you've ever "overzoomed" into a photo then you've seen how blocky it is when it's pixilated. It looks terrible.

Optical zoom, on the other hand, uses lens optics to "magnify" the subject – it's as if you were physically closer to the subject when you took the photo. A 10x optical zoom will appear as if you were ten times closer.

In photographer lingo, they don't actually refer to telephoto lenses as "10x" – instead, they refer to a lens by its focal length, i.e. 400 mm, since that indicates the distance to the focal point, behind the lens, where the light rays will converge.

Optical zoom is always better than digital zoom. But, it's also more expensive, due to the added lenses, plus it's bulkier.

On Tuesday, Jeff Leon, a high school classmate of mine, showed me an ad for Photojojo's iPhone Telephoto Lens which is an 8x telephoto lens that's made specifically for the iPhone 3 or iPhone 4. Priced at $35.00, it was an offer that I couldn't resist. Plus, the more that I dug into this product's offerings, the more that I was impressed.

Not only does 35 bucks buy you an 8x zoom lens, which attaches to your iPhone with a simple snap on case, but it also comes with a tripod to hold your iPhone. Do you know how long I've been looking for a simple iPhone tripod? Answer: a long time!

Ordering the Telephoto Lens
I placed my order on Tuesday and I received the new zoom lens this afternoon. The entire process of ordering and waiting for my telephoto lens to arrive was more fun than I expected when I received e-mails from Photojojo like:
We just wanted to let you know that we got your order. You've got this online shopping thing down pat!

The next day, when my order shipped, I received an e-mail with a subject line that read:

Yay! Your Photojojo Order Shipped!

And, the best part was the way they signed off this e-mail:
We hope our box of photo goodies brightens your day and brings you super photo happiness!

Photojojo was just as excited about my order as I was!

When I opened the shipping box, I immediately noticed that the telephoto lens box had the same form factor as the iPhone 3 box. And, in the packing materials, I saw that they also included a green toy dinosaur tchotchke.

As I showed the triceratops to my wife, we got a huge laugh when our beagle jumped up and sank his teeth into the plastic dinosaur as he tried, unsuccessfully, to snatch it from my hand and eat it thinking that it was a yummy Greenie.

Included in the box:
  • Telephoto lens
  • Universal holder
  • iPhone case
  • Mini tripod
  • Carrying case
  • Cleaning cloth

Critical Assessment
I can sum up this product in one word: Fantastic!

It's well worth $35 – I would have happily paid more. The plastic case easily snaps onto my iPhone and then the zoom lens screws into the threads on the case. You can manually focus the lens, depending how faraway the subject it. The minimum focal distance is about ten feet.

The tripod mount also rotates a full 90° so that you can take photos in either portrait or landscape (or anywhere in between).

I took my iPhone 4 with the telephoto lens outside to snap a couple photos of the birds of paradise on my lawn using the Photojojo tripod. You can click on these two images to compare the details and see the difference. Both photos were taken from the exact same vantage point. It obvious that I'm a happy camper with this product.

1 comment:

Outlaw Photographer James Taylor said...

This looks like such a fun and useful addition for iPhone shooters! It's no dSLR, but hey, F8 and Be There - the best camera is always the one you have with you. Definitely on my shopping list, especially at such a great price, and including a tripod at that! Thanks for the great review!