Review: Bitplay 18mm HD Wide Angle Lens (Apple iPhone)

Though many of the more traditional photographers don’t really take the iPhone seriously, it’s very fair to say that lens options like the Bitplay 18mm HD Wide Angle lens for the Apple iPhone are options that can really change the way you shoot. Bitplay has a load of excellent lens optics for their SNAP! Pro case, which we’ve reviewed previously and they’ve updated. But this newest addition is promising incredibly low distortion. So if you’re an adventure photographer, landscape photographer, street photographer, or cityscape shooter, then there is very little reason why you wouldn’t want a lens like this. In the same way that Moment and Zeiss have been changing the way that photographers shoot with the iPhone, this new lens offering from Bitplay is very similar.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Pretty darned good build quality
  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Very wide
  • Very little distortion indeed
  • There’s some very beautiful lens flare!

Cons

  • Prone to fingerprints.

Gear Used

We tested the Bitplay 18mm HD wide angle lens for the iPhone with the newest edition of the Snap! Pro case and the Apple iPhone 6s.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the website listing

Product name HD Wide Angle Lens EF 18mm
Magnification 0.60X
Mount 13mm threads
Minimum Focus Distance 10mm
Lens Construction 4 multi AR coated optical glasses elements in 3 groups
Lens Housing High grade aluminum alloy lens housing
Dimensions 34.8mm(Φ) x 29.5mm(H)
Weight 45g (for lens only. without other accessories)
Package dimensions 24.7 x 8 x 6.2 cm
Package contents HD Wide Angle Lens x 1, Lens Hood x 1, Lens Cap x 2, Lens Case x 1
Designed and made in Taiwan

Ergonomics

When you look at the Bitplay 18mm HD wide angle lens, it’s easy to sit there and dismiss a book by its cover. But the real magic comes with its use. Here’s what the lens looks like when its mounted to an iPhone case.

Now here’s the lens detached. Of course, it’s pretty big when you’re speaking about it optics-wise. But believe it or not there are larger optics options out there.

In the hand, it’s sort of like holding a Zeiss or Rokinon lens with the Bitplay 18mm HD wide angle lens. Except, you know, it’s fun-sized.

The lens itself becomes a whole lot smaller when you remove the lens hood and the cap. However, I don’t think I’d ever want to shoot like this considering just how prone the front element is to fingerprints.

Here are the three units separated. The odd thing about all this is that when you pack the lens up and put it back in its soft case, the cap goes onto the front and the lens hood goes onto the rear.

Build Quality

The Bitplay 18mm HD wide angle lens is made of metal and glass. That’s it. It’s big and beefy though with enough room to hold it. However, if I were to compare the build quality of this to anything else, it still isn’t touching the offerings from Zeiss though it’s about on par with options from Moment.

Ease of Use

Essentially what you’re going to end up doing is real life is using the camera app on your phone. But BitPlay has their own app. For what it’s worth, I didn’t really bother with the app. Instead, I was still very impressed with what the Bitplay 18mm HD wide angle lens can do.

The only semi-tough part is mounting. The Bitplay 18mm HD wide angle lens mounts to the case using a screw mount system which is very secure. That, and trying to ensure that your fingers don’t get the glass dirty is sort of tough.

Focusing

With the Bitplay 18mm HD wide angle lens, the focusing is really just dealt with through the iPhone. So there’s that. But consider the fact that your entire scene is now so wide and the sensor is already so small that it’s almost impossible to get anything out of focus.

Image Quality

The Bitplay 18mm HD wide angle lens has very admirable image quality with a character that I honestly wish more DSLR and Mirrorless camera lenses have. This lens is contrasty, sharp, and most importantly to me exhibits flare in a subdued way that is still beautiful. Zeiss lenses do this and so do Rokinon’s options along with those from Venus Optics. But Sigma and a few others cut it down I feel a bit too much–and that could be a Japanese mentality thing in a pursuit for what they find to be perfection.

In my eyes though, there’s a lot of beauty to be hand in imperfection.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

If you’re a lover of shooting with your phone, then I really can’t recommend the Bitplay 18mm HD Wide Angle Lens enough. It’s got some really fantastic image quality; though it’s a bit pricey. There are also great options from both Zeiss and Moment. But the reason why I’d choose the Bitplay 18mm HD Wide Angle Lens over the others has more to do with weight–which is already pretty darn negligible as it is. That, and I tend to like the flare that this lens delivers vs some of the others.

Either way, I have to recommend you at least give it a shot.