Blackness Centre’s clip-on lenses offering near-universal compatibility and great flexibility, so you tin use them across almost any phone – and y’all won’t need to buy a new set every time you upgrade your handset. However, in use they tin can prove fiddly. Positioning the lenses can be time-consuming, particularly on multi-lens devices. It’south not quite the rapid, clip-and-go solution many users might expect.
Very fiddly to put on
Lenses unscrew hands
Smartphone cameras have come up a long style in the terminal few years. In that short span, nosotros’ve gone from single-lens shooters that needed fantabulous lighting to multi-lens technology that produces superb results in most scenarios – even at night. Simply while the camera arrays on modern flagship phones already offer a decent corporeality of versatility, they notwithstanding tin’t quite match what dedicated DSLRs and mirrorless snappers can practise – and some of the latter’s strength and versatility certainly stems from the wide diversity of specialized lenses on offer.
That’due south (in theory) where prune-on lenses for phones, similar the Blackness Centre Pro Kit G4, come in. They hope to add that extra dimension to smartphone photography, providing access to wider angles, longer zooms and some amount of creativity with special lenses, all within a portable parcel that yous tin can hands pocket or drop into a handbag. The sales pitch is that they’re perfect for quick, impromptu and creative shoots when you lot’re out and nigh.
As the proper name suggests, the Pro Kit G4 is Black Heart’due south high-end lens pack, and has been designed with quality in mind. Information technology includes three different glass lenses: a portrait telephoto model that gets you a 2.5x magnification, a fisheye lens for a hemispherical field of vision, and a wide-angle lens for 120-degree shots.
The eyes of each is fitted within a well-made aluminum frame and these are screwed onto their ain sturdy, clothespin-like clip. Some thought has conspicuously gone into the design of the lenses, with a strip of yellow rubber on the side of the clips to forestall your phone’s screen from getting scratched.
The clip’s spring is tight, meaning the moment the lens is stock-still onto a phone, information technology won’t movement around due to accidental shakes. In fact, we were and so impressed by the clips that we were confident enough to prune them onto the shoulder straps of the backpack nosotros had during our time testing the lenses, making it easy for us to bandy them out as and when needed. In the same way, you could fifty-fifty clip them onto a pocket, exactly how you would a clothespin (aka clothes peg).
To protect the glass, each lens has a cap that is either a spiral-on (in the example of the fish-eye) or a pull-out (for the wide angle and telephoto options). They fit prissy and snugly, which is great to keep the lenses safe when not in apply, merely a side effect of that is that they can be quite difficult to remove. The pull-out lens caps are particularly tricky to get off, even if you manage to get a nail nether the little ridge on the cap. In the case of the fish-eye, we too found that unscrewing the cap could occasionally unscrew the lens-housing from the clip itself, besides. This adds its ain dangers as, if the lens comes away from the clip, chances are the optic assembly will likely come apart.
At the base of operations of each lens where it meets the clip is a small hole, which should sit snug and perfectly aligned with your smartphone’s camera. While information technology’s easy plenty to attach these clips onto a single-lens phone like the Google Pixel 3 (which features a pocket-sized, circular lens bump) information technology can be extremely fiddly to get clips and lenses aligned on phones with a large or square camera bump (such as the Samsung Galaxy S8) or on phones with multiple lenses. If yous tin can’t find the exact sweet spot, images can be badly distorted. In such cases, you will have to keep the phone’s photographic camera switched on while positioning the lens to make sure information technology’s perfectly aligned.
The Black Heart Pro Kit G4 lenses have theoretically been designed to work with phones cases also – and we certainly had no problem opening them widely plenty to fit over even the most hefty of cases – simply in some instances, we did find that fifty-fifty a pocket-size gap added past a thick case could add mistiness and distortion to the resulting photos. If you want the sharpest possible images, y’all’ll demand to accept the lens sitting flush against your phone’s camera.
The lenses can also be used with the front-facing camera on smartphones, in example yous wanted to diversify your selfies.
Black Eye has included a well-crafted carrying instance with the kit, which is respectably sturdy and provides plenty of cushioning – enough to ensure the G4 lenses will be just fine, even if you happen to drop the case accidentally. A lanyard loop is provided on 1 corner of the instance, and inside is a carabiner which tin be fastened to the loop, then you tin can hang the instance on your bag if y’all wish.
If yous’re unsure whether the kit is compatible with your phone, Black Centre offers a very useful list of smartphones
(opens in new tab)
that it’southward definitely compatible with – but that said, we besides tried the lenses on a Nokia eight Sirocco, which isn’t listed, and they worked merely fine, although nosotros weren’t able to apply them with a Huawei P30.
User experience & image quality
The iii lenses in the Pro Kit G4 practise exactly what it says on the can – you go a decent zoom in addition to what your telephone is capable of, a wider angle to frame a shot and a very different perspective with the fish-eye. And they’re ready to be used straight out of the box. Unlike some of the newer Olloclip lenses, which require a companion app to utilise, the Pro Kit G4 has no such paraphernalia attached to it – just clip on and shoot.
If you take a wait at Black Heart’s Instagram account
(opens in new tab), you’ll come across a universally beautiful assortment of shots. Our experience, though, was quite varied. Nosotros tested the lens kit on the Samsung Milky way S8, an iPhone X, the Google Pixel iii and the Nokia 8 Sirocco, and the results were very different, but generally considering of how the clip-on lenses fit on each handset.
On multi-camera phones, nosotros establish that the lenses need to exist positioned very precisely to avoid blurring and distortion – and fifty-fifty when you spent some fourth dimension ensuring placement was every bit close as possible to ideal, we nonetheless experienced both of those problems on many of our test shots. While the magnolia above was a pretty expert event using the Pro Portrait Tele G4 lens, we didn’t take as much success with the fish-centre or wide-bending lenses.
Although we did get some blur when using the Pro Fisheye G4, particularly around the edges, the effects were still quite pleasing, and in terms of the finished product the fisheye was certainly the best lens in the Pro Kit G4 kit.
On the other hand, with the wide-angle lens nosotros ran into quite a few issues. The blur forth edges and corners was a lot more prominent, even when we had it sitting snug against a smartphone camera. We found the Google Pixel 3, with its small photographic camera crash-land and single lens, delivered the best results when using the wide-angle lens, as the back glass of the Pro Cinema Wide G4 lens sits flush against the Pixel’southward ain camera. However, even then at that place was always some baloney in the corners, although the center was pretty sharp. The wide-angle lens also amplifies the rolling shutter effect, where buildings in the distance appear at an angle.
We’re tempted to put the wide-angle lens’ blurry images downwards to a manufacturing defect, peculiarly when compared to some of the fantabulous shots on the company’due south Instagram folio.
There is no uncertainty that clip-on lenses, like the ones in Black Eye’s Pro Kit G4, can significantly expand a smartphone camera’s potential. They add versatility and allow you to capture new types of images that your phone normally wouldn’t exist capable of.
Only are they good value for money? In the instance of the three-lens Pro Kit G4, that’s somewhat questionable: information technology costs about $250 / AU$369, making information technology quite an expensive investment. Non everyone volition need all three lenses in the kit, and if that’south y’all, we’d recommend only getting the one you think you’d apply the about. For us, that was the Pro Portrait Tele G4 lens, although the Pro Fisheye G4 does accept some redeeming features also – with the bulging curves and 180-caste field of view creating quite ‘interesting’ shots. Conversely, the wide-angle lens produced fairly disappointing results.
It’s also important to reiterate that these aren’t quite clip-and-go solutions. They tin be fiddly to position on many smartphones, and then may not be the best option for something similar street photography, where opportunities can laissez passer by incredibly quickly. Instead, they’re best utilized for landscape and nature photography, where you can take your time to fix the lens on properly.
That said, as claimed, these lenses are about universal in terms of compatibility and can be used with about handsets. It’southward worth checking Blackness Eye’southward website for compatibility before purchasing, just that’due south by no means a definitive list. If your phone’southward camera shape and position are fairly standard, yous shouldn’t have much problem attaching whatsoever of these lenses.