The cameras in modern smartphones are getting better and better. It’s no wonder that many people are ditching their dedicated cameras. One area that mobile photography needs help is in the accessories department. PolarPro has been making filters for traditional lenses for a long time, and they have decided to branch out into the mobile arena with their PolarPro LiteChaser filter system. While this system comes in many flavors, we had the chance to test and review the Photography Kit. Is this a system mobile photographers can’t live without? Let’s find out in our review.
Pros and Cons
- The case feels nice in the hands
- The grip is sufficiently deep and comfortable to use
- The grip can be placed in various positions to work with small to large hands
- The aluminum ring around the filter feels great
- The circular polarizer helps create nice deep blues and rich colors without a loss of sharpness
- Attaching the filter is incredibly fiddly and awkward
- There’s a yellow cast from the filter
- There’s a slight vignette when the filter is attached
- The mounting bracket on the filter is made from plastic
- The threads on the grip aren’t deep enough to fully screw in a tripod plate
We used the PolarPro LiteChaser Photography Filters System with the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
All technical specifications have been taken from the official PolarPro website:
- Low profile filter mount for easy installation and removal
- Reinforced hard bumper for added protection
- Wireless charging compatible
- Built-in rail system for adjustable and secure grip
- Rubber interior protects phone with added shock absorption
- Upper and lower 1/4-20 threads in the grip for tripod mounting and accessories
- Contoured grip givers ergonomic feel
- Dual-stage lock on the grip gives a safe, secure case connection
- The circular polarizer works with the ultra-wide, wide and telephoto lenses
Note: The PolarPro LiteChaser filter system we are reviewing was sent to us by PolarPro not only to review but to keep as well. This has not affected our feelings toward the product in any way, shape, or form. Everything written in this review is our own words and thoughts about the product.
The PolarPro LiteChaser filter system is honestly quite nice to use. The case itself feels quite good in the hand, thanks to a textured back and the non-slip outer edge of the case. As you can see in the image above, the mount for the filter is raised slightly from the main body of the case, and you can see the rails along the sides that the grip attaches to. Flanking the case, you’ll see both the rubber filter cover on the left and the hard plastic case on the right.
This image shows what the case PolarPro LiteChaser filter system looks like once the grip and the filter is attached to the case. As you can imagine, the grip adds a bit of bulk to the case, and it does make it a little tricky (although not impossible) to pocket. The filter itself is quite large and does protrude above the upper edge of the case, so just keep that in mind. The grip itself feels really nice. The texture and form of it will remind you of a grip from a DSLR or Mirrorless camera, and it is pretty comfortable to hold for long periods.
The filter itself is well designed and feels nice thanks to the aluminum ring that runs around the edge. The ring spins quite freely, which makes it easy to adjust. The raised, textured ridges are great too. Overall, the case, grip, and filter feel about as good as these things possibly can. The case is nice enough that I would have no issues leaving it on my phone all the time, minus the grip and filter, which I would store in my camera bag.
The build quality of the PolarPro LiteChaser Filter System is very good. The case itself feels nice in the hands and has a nice textured feel to it. The hardback of the case feels solid and should survive the odd drop. The case has an incredibly tight fit, and it took some effort to get it on my iPhone 11 Pro Max: getting it off proved to be challenging too. On the one hand, you know your phone is not going to slip out of the case like it might in a flimsy TPU case, but just hope you don’t need to take your phone out of the case often.
The mount for the filters is slightly raised off of the back of the case. You’ll find that it is constructed of the same hard plastic as the main back of the case, which means it should be quite sturdy and durable. I like that the mount is slightly elevated: it means the lenses on the back of the phone cannot easily come into contact with any surface you put the phone onto.
The grip feels solid. The metal clasp, which opens and closes the bracket, feels strong as well. I have encountered an issue with my copy, though, when it comes to the tripod mounts.
The threads located at the top and bottom of the grip aren’t deep enough to fully screw a tripod plate into them. I have tried three different tripod plates and had similar results with them all. This leaves you with a phone on a tripod that will freely spin. You can see in the image below that the phone will not sit flush on the plate. Your mileage may vary on this simply because the bolt on your tripod mount plate may be shorter than mine, but these are usually all fairly standard when it comes to length. My gut feeling is the pin that is used to hold the threads in place is the culprit here.
The filter itself feels rather nice. The aluminum ring which surrounds the filter is excellent and adds a touch of elegance. The case and rubber cover that can be used to protect the glass are both exceptional too. My concern is with the mount that attaches the filter to the case. The mount, which is made from plastic, doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence; I can’t help but feel that the little ‘feet’ will eventually weaken, become worn, and, or break/sheer off. Time will tell.
Overall the build quality is very good. While it might not be the most protective iPhone case ever, I have no issues leaving it on my phone for the long haul. The grip feels solid and is comfortable to hold. The aluminum ring around the filter is great: I just wish they would have used the same material for the mount on the back of the filter. Time will undoubtedly tell if my fears about the plastic mount on the back of the filter come true.
Ease of Use
In theory, the PolarPro LiteChaser filter system should be easy and straightforward to use, and for the most part, this is indeed the case. Once you wrestle the stiff case onto your phone, the next thing you will do is attach the grip.
Attaching the grip is an easy affair as you simply hold open the clip and position the grip where you want it to go. In all, there are three positions for the grip. The location you choose will vary depending on the size of your hands. I personally found it most comfortable to have the grip located right at the end of the case closest to the charging port, which, according to the pamphlet that comes with the kit, is supposed to be for those with small hands; I have anything but little hands. Go figure. Now, you’re all set to attach the filter. Attaching the filter may be the most frustrating part of the whole setup.
As you would imagine the filter sits very close to the case, and this means that the little feet that slide into the slots on the filter mount are tiny. Because of this, lining up the feet with the slots can be quite tricky. The first time you try this may take a few attempts, and you will get frustrated, but after that, you should be able to attach the filter quickly.
You can, of course, use the PolarPro LiteChaser filter system kit handheld, on a tripod, in a gimble, and you can stand the phone up on its side on any flat surface thanks to the extra real estate the grip adds. The system is not difficult to use.
It’s clear to see here that the PolarPro LiteChaser filter system’s circular polarizer does introduce a yellow cast to images.
Overall, the image quality is very good when you have the PolarPro LiteChaser filter system in place. The circular polarizer does precisely what a polarizer should do, and that deepens blue skies, make colors bolder, and remove reflections from objects. I am pleased to say that the PolarPro circular polarizer for the iPhone 11 does not decrease image sharpness at all, but it does introduce some vignetting and a yellow cast to the images. The above image is without the filter, and the image below is with the filter in place. Overall you will be pleased with the results.
I did not notice any issues with the images in regards to color until I brought the pictures into Lightroom and Capture One 20 and made a side-by-side comparison. It’s clear to see here that the PolarPro LiteChaser filter system’s circular polarizer does introduce a yellow cast to images.
On the left in the reference side is an image that was shot without the filter. On the active right side is the image with the filter in place. The color cast is not unpleasant, but the tones you will see in images will definitely appear much warmer, and clouds will, of course, take on a yellow hue. Otherwise, the colors are pretty great. Any imperfections with colors can be fixed in post, or in any mobile phone app if needed.
The circular polarizer does not degrade the sharpness of the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s lenses at all. This is great as there are a lot of filters that will degrade sharpness. I’m not sure what specific type of glass is used in the filters, but just know that it will not degrade the quality of your images. Shoot and be happy with that knowledge.
Extra Image Samples
- The case with the grip attached feels great in the hand
- Overall image quality is very good with no loss of sharpness
- The colors produced can be nice and bold
- The poor design of the tripod threads which stop a mounting plate from sitting flush
- The plastic mount on the back of the filter
- Yellow color cast in images and a slight vignette
Overall the PolarPro LiteChaser Filter system and with the circular polarizer is a decent piece of kit for photographers who like to use their phone as a primary camera. If you would prefer to be able to create some bolder colors in-camera instead of cranking up vibrancy and saturation in an application and would like to be able to cut back a little on reflections, this system is worth a look. Once you get past the frustrating method of attaching the filter, and if you can live with the yellow color cast, you’ll enjoy using the filter system. The kit is not exactly cheap, though. The PolarPro LiteChaser filter system photography kit costs $119.99. So, not exactly chump change, but if you need a circular polarizer for your iPhone 11, this one from PolarPro is a solid option.
The PolarPro LiteChaser filter system with the circular polarizer (The Photography Kit) receives three out of five stars. If it weren’t for the issues with the tripod plate, plastic mount on the back of the filter, and the yellow color cast, the score would have been higher. Still, three out of five stars is respectable. Want one? Head on over to PolarPro to check out the latest prices.