Review: Zeiss ExoLenses for Mobile Phones (Apple iPhone)

Lots of people who call themselves photographers may not necessarily take mobile lenses seriously; but the truth is that they’re actually quite good, especially in the case of the Zeiss Exo Lenses. Moment and PhotoJoJo make great optics, and it only makes sense that one of the best lens makers in the world wanted to get involved. The company makes three lenses that we tested: a wide angle, a telephoto, and a macro. Though currently only available for the iPhone and Samsung phones, the lenses will offer photographers a significant improvement in image quality providing they take the right steps.

While the lenses are pretty wonderful, I can’t exactly say the same thing about the case.

Gear Used

The Zeiss ExoLenses were tested with the iPhone 6s.

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Tech Specs

A lot of the specs are available on the Zeiss Exolens website, and there are quite a bit of them.

Ergonomics

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When you look at the Zeiss Exolenses, you’ll see that they are designed to very closely resemble the Milvus lineup. Of course, there is no focusing ring here, but it’s overall what you’d expect from Zeiss in many ways.

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Each lens mounts into the case by screwing it in–just like one would with a screwmount lens camera. This ensures a tight fit that is the most secure that I’ve ever seen with mobile lenses.

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While this screw-in method provides a lot of security, what you’ll be really confused by is the case itself. On one side, you’ll find a cold shoe while the other side has a tripod socket. It makes sense in some ways, but in other ways it’s actually quite infuriating.

Additionally, the case tends to completely cover up the phone’s flash.

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Of course, the lenses are also pretty big overall with the exception of the macro lens.

Build Quality

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Carrying these lenses around isn’t honestly so bad. But the phone with the lens attached isn’t anywhere as pocketable as what Moment offers photographers. So you’ll only want to use them when you’ve got the full intent of going out and creating photos. On top of that, a part the lens case is pretty sharp and actually cut my finger open at one point or another. To be fair, I wasn’t holding it properly. For what it’s worth though, this still isn’t my favorite case at all.

Both the case and lenses are designed with a solid, hearty build. In the situation of the case though, be careful how you hold it.

Ease of Use

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What you’re going to need to remember when you go out shooting is that both the Exolenses and the phone need to have clean optics. It’s easy for your fingerprints to get on the lenses of your phone, so make sure that they’re always clean–same goes for the Exolenses. Straight out of the camera, the image quality is very sharp and it’s indeed possible for you to get bokeh with the telephoto and macro lenses. But the real quality comes with post-production.

Focusing

The lenses themselves don’t have focusing capabilities but instead use what the iPhone can do. The exception is the macro lens–which makes you come right up close in general to the subject.

Image Quality

I truthfully can’t sit here complaining about the image quality. These lenses and the case are affordable; plus they can deliver great field of view and great images in the right situations. If you’re not in the right ones, then edit later on.

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Conclusions

The Zeiss Exolenses are capable of producing great images with your phone. More than anything, you’ll love the truly awesome field of views that they can help deliver and you’ll dig the overall sharpness and/or bokeh. Mobile photographers will greatly benefit from using these and it will open up a whole new world of possibilities overall. Combined with your phone’s ability to edit and shoot RAW (in some versions of Android) this is an even better factoid.

This is also a lens for a phone–so you should keep in mind that pixel peeping for the most part isn’t necessary. Instead, just sit there and fall in love with the images.

My major qualm is the case, which again cut my finger open at one point. After I learned how to hold it properly and avoid the sharp edges, I had no major issues. If Zeiss gives us a new case or even an add on plate the way Moment has, these will absolutely be the best lenses on the market.