Photo: Terry Sullivan
Schneider iPro Case and 2x Telephoto Lens, $155
Overall, this well-constructed telephoto lens (2x) and case had the best image quality in our tests. However, it was also the priciest.
To use this lens, you’ll first need to insert your iPhone into the hardcover case and then screw the telephoto lens onto the case. We like the protection this offers, as well as the case's tripod mount, which is great for shooting in low light or using long exposures.
Schneider also sells additional lenses, which we did not test, including a fisheye lens ($80) and a macro lens ($40). They are all compatible with the same case.
The Schneider iPro system has compatible cases for most iPhone models, in addition to the iPhone 6s, and one Android model, the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Schneider does not yet have a compatible case for the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.
Photo: Terry Sullivan
Olloclip Active Lens Kit (With 2x Telephoto Lens), $100
This kit comes with two lenses that are permanently attached in a compact unit: a 2x telephoto lens and a wide-angle that we didn't evaluate. The telephoto lens provides very good sharpness in the center of the image and just slight falloff in the corners. Still, it didn't perform quite as well as the Schneider iPro.
Once you slide the lens mount over the corner of your phone, it’s fairly secure. And here's a nice detail: Line up the telephoto lens on the rear-facing camera, and the wide-angle lens lines up with the front-facing, or selfie, lens (and vice versa).
What this means, of course, is that the Olloclip is built specifically for the iPhone 6s—it won't work with any other phone. And even with this smartphone, the fit wasn't perfect: The bottom edge of the Olloclip bracket covers the edge of the iPhone display, which could interfere with some menu settings on a photo app.
Various Olloclip kits are compatible with most iPhone models, including the 5, 5s, SE, 6, 6s, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, and the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Certain kits fit some iPad models, too. You can also buy some kits for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5.
Photo: Terry Sullivan
Carson HookUpz 7x Telephoto Lens, $20
This model comes with a soft rubber case to protect the lens when you're not using it, a hard plastic adapter that slips over the top of your phone, and the lens itself.
This lens provides more than double the optical zoom (7x) found on the other models we evaluated, but in our tests we found that it had the lowest image quality. It also has a quirky problem with the image itself: When you use the telephoto lens, the image comes out in a circular format with a black rectangular frame around it.
Carson has several versions, sized to fit different iPhones. But aside from one version that will fit the Samsung Galaxy S4, there are no options for other phone brands.
Photo: Terry Sullivan
Photojojo 2x Telephoto Lens, $20
To use the Photojojo lens, you attach a ring with an adhesive backing to your phone, and the lenses attach to the ring magnetically. That's good because it fits on a wide variety of cameras and it's easy to snap the lens on and off.
However, the connection isn't as secure as the screw-on lenses. And we think that with repeated, long-term use the adhesive might wear out.
As another drawback, the zoom images weren't too much sharper than what you'd get from the 2x digital zoom built into the iPhone 6s. Which sort of defeats the purpose.
On the positive side, there's the price: At $20, it tied with the HookUpz lens as the cheapest option. And if you're just looking to try out the technology, that makes the Photojojo an appealing option.
Further, once the magnetic ring is attached to your phone, you can experiment with other Photojojo lenses, including a super fisheye and a polarizing lens ($20 each).
You can buy Photojojo lenses that are compatible with several iPhones (5 and 5s; 6 and 6s; or 6 Plus and 6s Plus), or you can buy one that the manufacturer states is "Android/Universal," which should fit most any smartphone.
However, the company doesn't yet have compatible models for either the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus.
Let's be realistic: An add-on lens can't turn your smartphone into an SLR. No matter how good the product might be, piling one lens on top of another lens is not the best way to enhance image quality. Especially when the two lenses aren't aligned precisely—and even the full-body Schneider case isn't the equivalent of an SLR lens mount.
But that's not the point. Our tests found that the best lenses, especially the Schneider telephoto iPro lens, can really expand the kinds of photography you can do with an iPhone. They're fun, they're fairly affordable, and the best of them do decidedly better than a phone's native digital zoom, which inevitably degrades image quality. If you understand what you're getting, these lenses can be a good investment.
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I've been writing about tech since the 1990s and joined Consumer Reports in 2007. I cover audio-related devices, like headphones, and digital-imaging products, like cameras and printers. When not making fine art with a camera or oil paint, I also jam with my band, The Not-For-Prophets. I live on Long Island with my wife and kids.
More From Consumer Reports
Samsung today gave us an early look at the first smart phone with a true optical zoom lens, the Galaxy S4 Zoom. Optical zoom lets you get closer to your subject without the degradation of photo and video quality you'd get using digital zoom (for more details, read "Digital zoom will doom your photographs.") The S4 Zoom's 10x zoom lens, which protrudes from the front of the phone when fully extended, includes a 24mm wide angle setting, which is also rare on phones. Here's our first impression.
CORRECTION: The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the first smart phone with 10x optical zoom, but the Nokia N93 smart phone, which was introduced in 2006, included a 3x optical zoom lens.
In addition to the zoom lens, this 16-megapixel smart phone includes other important features often found on basic digital cameras, but not on smart phones. These includes a back-side illuminated CMOS sensor similar in size to those on cameras, which should provide better low-light performance than on most smart phones; a true flash; and mechanical image stabilization (sensor-shift types), which is rare on smart phones.
The S4 Zoom also includes a very nice physical control: A ring positioned around the lens that you can turn to zoom in and out. (You can also use it for selecting other features. However, one strange omission: You can't use the ring to manually focus the camera.) You can also zoom in and out using a "virtual control" on the 4.3-inch touch screen display.
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The S4 Zoom also includes around two dozen scene modes, including one called Smart Mode Suggestion, which offers three scene modes from which to choose depending on subject matter and lighting. Samsung has included a number of other intriguing modes that take advantage of wireless connectivity, including Photo Suggest mode, which brings up a bulls-eye target icon on the screen when shooting in certain locations. If you click on this icon, a map appears with thumbnails, showing photos shot by other photographers of important monuments, locations, or tourist attractions near where you're shooting. The S4 Zoom includes other wireless technologies, such as NFC (near field communication), for quickly transferring photos and videos to other wireless devices.
The smart phone can also capture HD video (1080p at 30fps), and you can zoom via the control ring while recording video. It comes with 8GB of internal storage as well as slot for a microSD memory card, for additional storage.
Samsung hasn't yet announced pricing or availability, but the Galaxy S4 Zoom is expected to be available by end of summer.
Original article and pictures take http://www.consumerreports.org/smartphones/telephoto-smartphone-lenses-tested/ site