A quick look at the ‘APEXEL Professional 4K Wide Lens with Circular polarizing filter’. This clip-on lens is available from Amazon and plenty of other online retailers for around $25 AUD. http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01KOB032O.
What is it?
This Apexel lens is designed to augment the built in camera on your smartphone. When you clip this lens onto your phone and over your existing smartphone lens you will get a wider field of view for your photos.
The utility of these lenses has become a little less necessary in recent years with a number of manufacturers including a built-in wide angle camera in their phone. Samsung, LG and a number of other Android manufacturers have been doing so for a few years and Apple recently joined the party, including one in their brand new iPhone 11 Pro.
The reason i’ve picked this up is that I own a Google Pixel 2XL and intend to buy the Pixel 4. The Pixel 2 does not include a wide-angle and the 4 doesn’t look like it will either. I rather like the wide effect and was looking for an inexpensive way of getting that option.
In the box you receive a small instruction booklet, a carry case with the lens, lens hood, lens cloth, lens clip and circular polariser. The lens has a cap on the front and back to keep it clean and protected.
First impression is that the lens is quite large compared to other clip on lenses I’ve used in the past and feels well made with a metallic build and decent weight. There’s a decent amount of glass here and that should be a good sign.
Putting it all together is simple enough, the lens caps pop off, the lens screws onto the clip easily and the circular polariser is already fitted but can easily be unscrewed and the lens hood fitted. All the metal threads feel secure as you screw the various bits together.
A small annoyance worth pointing out here is that the front lens cap only fits over the circular polarising filter so when packing away the lens you will need to reattach this filter if you’ve removed it for shooting.
Enough background, is it any good?
Generally the problem with these clip on lenses is that they acutally don’t provide a great image, the quality suffers because they use low-quality glass and they’re not tuned to the lens and sensor set-up on your phone. This tends to result in blurring – particularly at the edges of the image, vignetting, chromatic aberration and other issues which detract from the image quality. The wideangle built into your phone is going to produce a much high-quality image. If you don’t have a phone with that option? Well then clip-ons are probably your only option.
Sometimes the creative shot you’re going for doesn’t rely so much on quality of image if you capture it the right way but there’s no getting away from poor quality tending to ruin otherwise servicable images.
For me this is a decent lens for the money, it provides an option for photographs with my smartphone that I wouldn’t otherwise have and I find it particularly useful for video. The quality of the images produced using the lens aren’t at the same level as the camera without the lens attached but they are much better than the super cheap ‘Old Shark’ clip-on lens i’ve previously used. The images below will allow you to see for yourself but so far, with only a few days of use, I feel it’s worth the small extra cost over the lower quality option. If you want a wide angle shooting option this is a decent, inexpensive method of doing so.
Field of View (FOV) comparison
Images comparing the FOV for the Pixel 2XL camera with no attachment, with the Apexel clip-on lens and with a cheaper “Old Shark” clip-on wide angle lens. Shots taken with the phone held the same distance from the paper.
The two wide angle attachments clearly show the extra field of view available when they’re used. The Pixel 2XL with no attachments shows the standard field of view, the image is clear and sharp right to the edges with no distortion. The Apexel provides a wider field of view, there is some distortion appearing and reduction in image quality around the edges of the image. The Old Shark lens shows significant distortion and large quality loss around the edges of the image while the middle remains fairly sharp and clear.
Quality & Comparison Shots
Images comparing Pixel 2XL camera with no attachment, with Apexel clip-on lens. This demonstrates the increased field of view available with the wide angle and does a good job demonstrating the image quality and distortion when using the clip-on lens.