Without a doubt, my favorite feature on any iPhone has always been the camera. It serves as more than good enough as a daily shooter, and new apps and accessories are being released everyday that help take that experience further. The first iPhone accessories I really got into, back when I had my iPhone 4, were wide-angle lenses and I still love them to this day. Recently I’ve been on the lookout for a lens for the iPhone 7 Plus to recommend for those just starting out with iPhone camera enhancements. I think I found the right product with the Aukey 120° wide-angle Ora Lens. Let’s take a look at what the lens can do for you and your iPhone photography…
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When news broke that the iPhone 7 Plus was going to include a dual-camera system, I assumed correctly that some external lens systems available were probably not going to work or need updates. At the recommendation of a friend, I decided to look at Aukey’s Ora Lens because of it’s simplified “installation” process.
Immediately upon taking the Ora Lens out of its packaging, I realized just how big the lens actually was. Fitting nicely in the palm of my hand, the lens has some heft to it, making the entire kit feel pretty well-constructed. Even though I specifically bought the Ora Lens because of its clip-style mounting system, I had doubts as to how well it would hold on.
Mounting the lens
The Ora Lens is insanely easy to install, thanks to the clip design. There is no case to add, or mount to adhere to your phone. Just clip it on and you’re good to go. The clip’s grip is tight and secure on the phone, but I found it could fall off if you moved your phone faster than you would in normal usage. One of the nicest benefits the clip system provides is the ability for the lens to be installed on a multitude of devices. I found myself installing it often onto my phone and Mac’s iSight camera for a FaceTime video call. Though, at one point while on the call I spun around and saw the lens swivel in place a bit more than I was comfortable with. Luckily, no damage was done.
The movement of the lens illuminated the first problem. Yes, it’s easy to install, but lining up the phone’s camera lens perfectly with the Aukey lens is a bit of a challenge at first. If the lens is installed and off by even a millimeter, images taken by the camera begin looking blurry and may show the lens’ edges at the corners of the photo. (See above photos as examples, taking note of bottom left and bottom right areas.) The blurriness isn’t even always evident on the phone’s ‘tiny’ display, but becomes obvious when you realize the phone is having trouble autofocusing. After I noticed this, I started looking through the Aukey Ora Lens to visually see if the iPhone lens was centered for correct placement.
To test the wide-angle lens, I decided to take it with me for a day of shooting at an outdoor museum in Brazil. I had been there a few times before and figured the landscape and buildings would provide good visual points to see just far the lens could expand the camera view. After installing the lens onto the phone, just open your favorite camera app and start snapping away.
I quickly fell in love with how easy it was to clip the lens onto my phone and then move it to my outside pocket while I walked around. While taking photos I was continuously shocked at how much more of the landscape and images I was able to get into the shots.
After mounting and un-mounting the lens over and over again, I began noticing one of the biggest problems nearly all wide-angle lenses have: chromatic aberration at the images’ edges. It was hard to see in some shots, but when compared side-by-side with images that didn’t have the lens installed, it became night and day.
It’s important to note that when using the Aukey lens on a 7 Plus, the phone’s tele lens is blocked. This means you won’t be able to hit the 2x button in the Camera app to zoom in, nor take Portrait Mode pictures until the external lens is removed.
Overall, the Aukey Ora Lens isn’t perfect, but it’s hard to pass up as a starter lens for interested hobby photographers. It’s solid construction and low price point make it extremely attractive. If you’re looking for some more versatile options, be sure to take a look at Olloclip’s offerings as well.
The Aukey Ora iPhone Camera Lens is on sale on Amazon for $24.99. It comes with a small cleaning cloth, but I’d also recommend picking up a camera cleaning kit to add to your mobile photography arsenal.
Note: All images in this test have been down-sampled for a more lightweight viewing experience. Full quality image comparisons can be downloaded here. Images were taken once without the lens, and then once again in same the spot with the lens added on-top using the ProCam 4 iOS app on an iPhone 7 Plus. The Aukey Ora does include a built-in 15x macro lens for close up photography as well, but was not extensively tested.