The iPhone is the world's most popular camera in terms of the number of photos taken, and it's no wonder -- iPhone owners always have the camera with them, and the photo quality is usually quite good. But the iPhone isn't the easiest device to take photos with. There's no built-in tripod mount for getting long-exposure pictures, sometimes pressing the on-screen shutter button can be a pain, and holding the iPhone one-handed to take a shot is an invitation to dropping it. That's where the Bitplay SNAP! 7 iPhone camera case (affiliate link) and accessory lenses come into play, and today we're giving it a full workout.
The case itself costs $52.99 for the iPhone 7 Plus version and $49.99 for the iPhone 7. There are a series of accessory lenses that are available:
3X Long Focal Telephoto Lens ($39.99)
Professional Fisheye Full Frame Lens ($34.99)
2-in-1 Ultra 0.39X Wide Angle + 6X Macro Lens (No price listed)
If you bought the six lenses that are available and the case, you'd be spending over $300. Most people will select one or two lenses, like a telephoto and a wide angle/macro combo, so the price becomes more reasonable -- more like $120 or so.
The case is the best part of the entire setup. You can leave it on all the time for protection (on-the-go mode), and take advantage of the top shutter button that makes one-handed photography easy. If you're planning on doing a lot of photo shooting, there's a hand grip that attaches securely with a combination of magnets, slots, and a locking screw (photographer mode).
That hand grip is worth the price of admission! It really feels good in the hand, and there's even a thumb rest that can be attached. On the bottom of the grip is a standard tripod screw mount, and there is also an included wrist strap...although I could not for the life of me figure out where the heck it was supposed to be attached. I finally decided that it could theoretically be put under the hand grip and around the screw that holds the grip in place.
The SNAP! 7 case is flexible enough that it's quite easy to install and remove an iPhone. The lenses screw into a mount that holds them very securely. My favorite feature, though, is the shutter button on top that lets you snap those one-handed photos. It uses a simple mechanical linkage to transfer your index finger push to the volume toggle on your iPhone 7/7 Plus, which can be used as a shutter button.
I was able to test both the 0.30X Professional Fisheye Full Frame Lens and the Advance Circular Polarizer Filter Lens. Polarizer filters are quite common on DSLRs, where they are used to to darken skies, manage reflections, or suppress glare from the surface of lakes or the sea.
Advance Circular Polarizer Filter Lens
In the test photos below, you can see the effect (subtle) of the circular polarizer filter in a boring neighborhood photo. Basically, the sky appears darker in the first photo, slightly lighter in the second photo. Depending on the angle of the sun, the effect is magnified. I like using a polarizer on a DSLR, so I'd be apt to use the SNAP! 7 case and this filter lens when shooting.
However, like just about every accessory lens I've ever tested for the iPhone, even just this filter -- which doesn't provide any magnification at all -- causes some slight vignetting (darkening) in the corners of the image. It's particularly noticeable in the upper right hand corner.
0.30X Professional Fisheye Full Frame Lens
As I noted in the previous paragraph, most iPhone accessory lenses cause vignetting or distortion in the corners of photos. While in some cases it's possible to mitigate vignetting by cropping the photo to eliminate the edges and corners of the image, in other situations it's just plain annoying. It's something that comes with the territory of trying to add another lens to the iPhone's camera.
That being said, I was still pretty impressed with the clarity of the center of the image with photos taken by the fisheye lens. If you use the fisheye to take a photo and have your subject near the middle -- and don't mind that out-of-focus distortion around the edges -- you can take some pretty fascinating photos.
Even if you don't choose to buy any of the accessory lenses for the SNAP! 7 case, the case itself is well worth the cost just for the grip, tripod mount, and shutter button. It really makes it quite easy to take photos and selfies one-handed. I didn't get an opportunity to try the wide angle or telephoto lenses so I can't vouch for those, but I felt that the quality of the accessory lenses was a step above most of the lenses I've seen in this price range.