Review: Vtec lenses for my iPhone

review Vtec lenses
What comes in the kit: 12x telephoto lens, 9x telephoto lens, 2x telephoto lens, wide/macro lens, fisheye/macro lens, mini tripod and attachment clip, hard iPhone case, soft carrying pouch, cleaning cloth

Beyond the Canon

I’m not a photographer, but I like taking pictures. For many years I’ve relied on my small, simple, Canon PowerShot, and I continue to recommend this camera to people who are looking for an easy way to get great photos in most situations.

But there is one situation I’m in every week that my little Canon struggles with: church. I administer my church’s Facebook page, so I try to take photos at every service and post them the same day. The photos I take are “okay,” but many of them turn out grainy or blurry, mainly because of the size of the worship center and the low lighting. I have to be sitting within the first 10 rows, preferably in the center section, in order to clearly capture what’s happening on the stage.

So when I learned that there are lenses you can attach to your iPhone camera, I started investigating.

Researching new options

I wasn’t exactly sure what type of lens would most improve my low-light, big-room church shots, but it seemed like telephoto was the way to go. That decision eliminated the Olloclip 3-in-1 lens kit—it reviewed well, but the kit doesn’t include a telephoto lens.

Eventually I found the Vtec lens kit, which reviewed well and also included the three options offered by Olloclip (macro, fisheye, and wide-angle) as well as three telephoto lenses, a small tripod and clip, and a little pouch to safely carry the lenses around in.

Trying to buy

I’m not sure why, but the kit can be difficult to find. I bought mine from a place called USBfever, whose interface made me a little nervous: the overall look is dated, and the shopping buttons are less intuitive than, say, an Amazon experience. The first time I tried to place an order, it didn’t go through, and I ended up on an error page. I summoned the courage to try again, and when I returned, the kit I had selected was still in the cart, and this time my order went through.

Once my order was placed, the experience was much more reassuring. I received an email confirmation from USBfever, and then a shipping notice. I received additional notifications throughout the shipping process, which I appreciated. The item was coming from Hong Kong, so I expected it to take weeks to arrive, but it was on my doorstep in exactly a week!

Now, there is no indication on the box or in the paperwork or on any of the items that this is a Vtec product. Either Vtec’s branding isn’t very good, or I received a Hong Kong knock-off! The online images I’ve found of Vtec lenses seem to match the product I received, but the Vtec name is completely absent from everything I own. That’s unfortunate, because I really like the product and would love to be able to look at it and know who made it! Anyway…

Vtec telephoto lensI have to admit, it’s a little more obtrusive to take photos during church with a telephoto lens stuck on the back of your iPhone. But the lenses easily screw into the special iPhone case that comes in the kit, so connecting them and disconnecting them as needed is not a big deal.

Going long

The 9x telephoto is the only lens I brought with me the first Sunday I tested my new capabilities. It took some getting used to! The lens has to be focused manually, and when the focus is sharp enough, the iPhone’s auto-focus can take over. Many of my pictures were blurry until I got the hang of the manual focus, and I still need to improve my focusing skills. But I appreciate the new options a telephoto lens can provide.

review Vtec lenses
Left: a typical church photo taken with no lens on my iPhone; Right: a photo taken from the same position, with the Vtec 9x telephoto lens on my iPhone
review Vtec lenses
Left: a photo of the “Behemoth” I got from Seth Godin, using no lens on my iPhone camera; Right: same subject, same distance, with the Vtec 12x telephoto lens screwed on to my iPhone. (If you’re curious about the Behemoth, click the photo.)

Going wide

I’m not sure how much use I’ll have for a wide-angle lens, but I might start taking it to church with me for those occasions when a large group is gathered on stage or the musicians are standing far apart.

review Vtec lenses
Left: without a lens attached, this is the photo my iPhone takes from about 4 feet away from the Behemoth; Right: attaching the Vtec wide-angle lens gives a wider field of vision (with some bowing)

Going macro

I’ve never used a macro lens before, so I was impressed to see the kind of detail I am now able to capture with my iPhone camera.

review Vtec lenses
Left: The standard lens on an iPhone camera (and most point-and-shoot cameras) can’t focus at close distances; Right: Adding the Vtec macro lens allows me to capture detail from only a half-inch away from this dime

To sum up…

I love these Vtec lenses! I’m sure they are not good enough for a serious photographer with a big-money camera, but for an amateur like me—who often needs a camera handy and always has her iPhone with her—it makes sense to find a way to take these lenses along as well. My guess is, I won’t need all of the lenses in the kit (what in the world do people use a fisheye lens for?), but the per-piece price of the kit was good enough to warrant my getting them all, and then experimenting and learning. If you already know what kind of lens you would get the most use from, you can buy that lens separately and not waste money on lenses you don’t need.

If you want to purchase from USBfever, here’s a [non-affiliate] link directly to the full kit: Vtec iPhone lens kit

And if you do decide to trick out your iPhone or other smart-phone camera, let me know in the comments below!

8 thoughts on “Review: Vtec lenses for my iPhone

  1. Sounds like you may need a cool, new high-tech looking bag to carry all the lenses in. :) Thanks for the edification. I haven’t had a need yet, but I always have an interest in learning about new toys.

    • Nice job on the Googling, Ann! Those are great examples of when to use a fisheye lens! Of course, now I’m even more convinced that I won’t have much use for that member of my Vtec kit, but it’s nice to know there are some artistic effects available if I ever need them. :)

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