As Chase Jarvis says, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” This statement continues to prove out, and even more so when you look at the recent advancements in smartphone camera hardware and technology. It’s truly amazing what you can do with smartphone cameras these days.
The iPhone 11 series comes with a pretty neat camera setup out of the box. The dual/triple camera array shoots excellent pictures and would be enough for regular users. But what if we told you you can get even more out of this camera “that’s with you” without spending thousands of dollars on a DSLR? Smartphone add-on lenses allow you to do just that.
These small, portable lenses snap on to your phone and massively improve your shots, getting you significantly closer to DSLR quality for a fraction of the cost. With the different types of lenses available on the market, it can be tough to choose a lens that suits your needs. This in-depth guide will save you from getting lost in the woods and help you choose the best lens for your iPhone 11 (or iPhone 11 Pro/Pro Max) in 2020.
If you are in a rush, don’t worry, we have got all the details right here!
- The Moment 18mm Wide Lens is a wide-angle lens that allows you to capture 2x more picture. It offers minimal distortion, and the no-plastic body has excellent build quality. You need a separate proprietary case to use the Moment lens.
- The Xenvo Pro Lens Kit includes a 0.45x wide-angle lens and a 15x macro lens. The lens units are made of aluminum and have great build quality. Xenvo provides a variety of useful accessories in the box.
- The CoPedvic 4 in 1 Lens Kit includes a 22x telephoto lens, a 205° FoV fisheye lens, a 0.67x wide-angle lens, and a 25x macro lens. There’s a host of accessories in the package, including a tripod stand.
- The DxO ONE 20.2MP Digital Connected Camera is a fully functional external camera unit that connects to your iPhone via the lightning port and has its own rechargeable battery and a micro SD card slot. It has a large 1” Sony sensor that performs splendidly in low light conditions.
Who Should Get This?
These add-on lenses are for iPhone users who want to get the most out of their devices’ camera capabilities. Being able to snap a portable lens onto your iPhone and get massively better pictures is simply much more convenient than lugging around a bulky DSLR. Although these lenses cannot get you the quality that an SLR or a DSLR camera provides, they can get you pretty close for only a fraction of the cost and are a worthy upgrade.
So whether you’re planning to enter a smartphone photography or filmmaking contest or just an Instagram influencer looking to get better pictures and videos out of your iPhone, any of these add-on lenses will serve you well.
Best Lens for iPhone 11: What to Consider in 2020
Type of Lens
- Wide Angle: A wide-angle lens increases your FoV (Field of View) and lets you capture a wider scene. A wide-angle lens is an all-rounder and can be used for anything from landscape to food photography, and therefore makes for a great first lens.
- Macro: Generally speaking, a macro lens allows you to take detailed close up photos. You can use it to take detailed photos of small objects or capture the small details of a large object.
- Telephoto: A telephoto lens brings distant scenes and subjects closer. Using a telephoto lens is like using the zoom feature of your phone but still getting a crisp image without losing any details.
- Fisheye: A fisheye lens is essentially an ultra wide-angle lens that produces strong visual distortion. The captured images look similar to the view from a door viewer.
It is important to consider the material the lens is built with. A lens with a metal body is always stronger and hence more durable compared to a lens with a plastic body. All the lenses on this list have an aluminum body.
Some lenses simply clip on to your phone while others can only snap on to specially designed phone cases. Each type of attachment has its own advantages and disadvantages. Clip-on style lenses can be easily removed and attached to other phones, without the need to buy a brand new case every single time. On the other hand, lenses that require proprietary cases guarantee a hassle-free experience and a perfect fit, so you don’t have to fiddle around and worry about whether the lens is properly aligned.
Best iPhone 11 Lens: Our Picks for 2020
The Moment 18mm Wide Lens, as the name suggests, is a wide-angle lens. It has a 0.63x magnification ratio that allows you to capture 2x more picture. It offers virtually zero chromatic aberration and features a multi-layer, low flare, broadband anti-reflection lens coating. The lens is built from aerospace-grade metal and the same hand-polished glass that is used in high-end 4k film lenses. The best part about this lens is that you get little to no fisheye effect even at the edges. There is a protective lens cap and a microfiber bag included in the box. You will, however, need to buy a separate proprietary case from Moment to use this lens.
What we like:
- Wide-angle lens with little to no fisheye effect
- Captures 2x more picture
- Premium build quality
What we dislike:
- Proprietary case required, not included in the box
The Xenvo Pro Lens Kit includes two lenses- a 0.45x wide-angle lens, and a 15x macro lens. The clip-on style lenses are made of anodized aluminum and glass and feel sturdy and durable. The clips, although made of plastic, are quite good. Xenvo offers a variety of useful accessories in the box, including a travel case, protective lens caps, and a small rechargeable clip-on LED light. The wide-angle lens tends to have a slight fisheye effect that is only noticeable when you’re shooting inside a room, as straight walls and lines appear bent if they are near the edges of your picture frame. Even considering this little caveat, this is a great, value-for-money iPhone 11 lens kit.
What we like:
- 2-in-1 kit with a wide-angle and macro lens
- Excellent value for money
- Great build quality
What we dislike:
- Slight fisheye effect when shooting inside a room
The CoPedvic 4 in 1 Lens Kit includes a 22x telephoto lens, a 205° FoV fisheye lens, a 0.67x wide-angle lens, and a 25x macro lens. The lenses screw on to a lens holder, which in turn clips on to your phone. The body of the lens holder is made from aluminum, and the overall build quality is good. However, the lens holder is heavy and may not go well with your existing phone case, depending on its material. It tends to make the clip slip and move on your phone due to its weight. The telephoto lens has a rather small FoV and can be a hit or a miss depending on what you wish to shoot. CoPedvic provides many accessories in the package, including a padded carrying case and a metal tripod stand with a phone mount.
What we like:
- 4-in-1 lens kit
- Good build quality
- Comes with a metal tripod stand
What we dislike:
- The heavy lens holder tends to make the clip slip on the phone’s surface
- Telephoto lens can be a hit or a miss
The DxO ONE 20.2MP Digital Connected Camera is a completely different product compared to the other lenses on this list. It is a fully functional external camera unit that connects to your iPhone via the lightning port and is controlled from the DxO ONE app for iPhone. It can also be used as a standalone unit and has its own rechargeable battery and a micro SD card slot. The highlight of this little camera is the 1” 20.2MP CMOS-BSI Sony sensor. The large size of the sensor makes for excellent performance in low light conditions. The aperture is f/1.8, adjustable down to f/11, and the lens has an equivalent focal length of 32mm. This little “connected camera” lets you get virtually DSLR-quality photos on your iPhone.
What we like:
- Massive sensor in a small body
- Excellent low-light image quality and dynamic range
- Super RAW Mode reduces noise and stabilizes image
What we dislike:
- Not user-friendly as a standalone camera
- Low battery life and slow charging
Useful Tips & Tricks
Here are some tips to get the best out of your iPhone 11 + Lens setup
- Always use a microfiber cloth to clean the glass part of your lens to avoid scratches. You can use a Q-tip to get rid of dust or lint from hard-to-reach places, but remember that Q-tips are abrasive and may remove the lens coating if used too often.
- Be sure to use the lens cap and the carrying case provided by the manufacturer to protect, store, and carry your lens. Remember, one single scratch can render the lens useless.
- This helpful video from AppleInsider has all the tips you need to master the iOS camera app, which is enough to get good-looking photos.
- However, if you’re a professional and serious about getting the best possible photos, you should consider investing in a paid camera app. These third-party apps let you manually control your camera settings just like on a DSLR, which is something that the default camera app does not allow. This guide from Macrumors has a summary of the best camera apps on the App Store that offer manual control.
It is quite impressive how much a cute little lens can improve a smartphone camera. A good quality lens will let you get more from the already capable camera setup on your iPhone 11/ Pro/ Pro Max. There are many lenses out there, but all of them fall short of the ones we’ve listed above.