31 Jan 2012

Schneider Optics, part of the German lens maker Schneider Kreuznach, has launched a new interchangeable lens system for the iPhone 4 and 4S. Called iPro, the new system is available now with a wide-angle and fisheye lens, along with a tough aluminum case and storage system that doubles as a handle and tripod mount. Company representatives recently showed Ars a pre-production prototype of an additional 2x telephoto lens at Macworld|iWorld 2012, which will be launching soon as well.

The iPro system relies on a custom aluminum case which fits the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. The case has a bayonet fitting to attach and precisely position iPro lenses. The lenses themselves have precision crafted aluminum barrels, heavy glass, and high quality multi-layer coatings. Users can select from a perspective-warping fisheye lens, 0.7x wide angle lens, or (soon) a short 2x telephoto lens. The 35mm equivalent focal length on an iPhone 4 is 9mm, 20mm, and 56mm respectively, while on an iPhone 4S those focal lengths would be 10mm, 24mm, and 70mm.

The fisheye lens covers 160 degree angle of view from corner to corner, with a little bit of vignetting. It would be nice if someone could produce a full-frame fisheye adapter which didn't vignette, but spokesperson Vika Safrigina explained to Ars that the positioning of the iPhone's lens behind a protective glass cover, as well as its wide angle of view, make such a lens technically impossible.

The wide angle lens increases field of view 35 percent, perfect for tight rooms indoors or capturing architecture or landscapes outdoors. Many similar wide angle adapters (including those made for iPhones, video cameras, or digital cameras) tend to have quite a bit of obvious barrel distortion, too—Safrigina told us that the iPro wide angle lens is "very well corrected," though we weren't able to test this claim on the show floor. We'll be sure to check for field curvature in addition to general performance when we can get our hands on a review sample.

Finally, the upcoming telephoto lens doubles an iPhone's native focal length, acting as a short telephoto or "portrait" lens. In particular, it should make for nice head and shoulder type portraits, and may also work well for grabbing better snaps at events like concerts.
All three lenses should also make a nice kit for shooting video; we saw dozens of reporters shooting video on the show floor with elaborately equipped iPhones, so we know there is a likely market there as well.

The lenses are accompanied by matching aluminum cases that screw together for storage. These collectively form a handle that screws in to the side of the custom iPro case, which can help steady an iPhone for low-light shots or video by adding a little extra weight. Furthermore, the handle has a standard 1/4"-20 thread on the bottom for attaching to tripods and other photographic mounts.

The lenses are stored in an aluminum tube that doubles as a handle and tripod mount.Chris ForesmanThe basic iPro system includes the case, wide and fisheye lenses, and handle for $199. The 2x telephoto lens will sell separately beginning in April for around $99.

Schneider Optics ups "iPhonography" ante with iPro lens system

(Via Ars Technica.)