In the test: inLine smartphone lenses on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 Plus

Yesterday the weather was gracious again and let the sun shine. I immediately used the time to test a couple of clip-on lenses that the Central Hessian company inLine made available to me. In detail, there are these three lenses:

  • Ultra wide angle and macro (0,39x wide angle and 6x macro)
  • Macro HD (2,8x magnification)
  • Telephoto lens (3x magnification)

This allows the range of use of the internal iPhone camera to be expanded significantly, as objects that are much closer than usual to the camera lens can be focused or objects can be zoomed in without using the software zoom.

The three smartphone lenses that inLine made available to me for testing (Photos: Sir Apfelot).
The three smartphone lenses that inLine made available to me for testing (Photos: Sir Apfelot).

Workmanship and quality of the inLine lenses

All lenses are made of aluminum and feature "coated" lenses. This is a coating on the glass that is supposed to prevent reflections, for example. Each lens comes with a plastic clip in the packaging that allows it to be attached to the iPhone (and other smartphones). The lenses can also be unscrewed from the clip for safe transport and provided with dust protection covers so that the glass surfaces cannot be damaged.

The ultra-wide-angle iPhone lens in detail. The red silicone pad that sits on the display when you clip the lens to your smartphone is also nice to see.
The ultra-wide-angle iPhone lens in detail. The red silicone pad that sits on the display when you clip the lens to your smartphone is also nice to see.

The advantage of the clip is that there is no metal and the use of a silicone pad (the red part in the photo) because this protects the surface of the iPhone and the display from scratches. Unfortunately, a well-known manufacturer, where such a lens set costs well over 100 EUR, made it completely out of metal, which led to angry customers who scratched their iPhone – the “Jet Black” color is particularly strong here endangered. So: inLine has done everything right in this regard!

The processing of the lenses and the clip is very good from my point of view. The plastic clip is also so robust that you don't have to worry that something will break off. And since everything is in black, the whole thing also looks classy.

The individual parts of an inLine smartphone lens including clip and dust cover.
The individual parts of an inLine smartphone lens including clip and dust cover.

The supplied dust covers are for both sides of the lens and protect them so well that you can easily transport them all together in a bag or box.

Compatibility with the iPhone 7 Plus

My current iPhone is the iPhone 7 Plus, which has two camera lenses. The downside is that you no longer have that practical lens knob that sticks out on the iPhone 6 and 7, but rather a long knob that encloses both lenses. This makes it difficult to attach the snap-on lenses, which fit easily on the “small” iPhone 7, to the iPhone 7 Plus.

On an iPhone 6 with a silver back, you can easily see whether the lens is correctly centered over the camera lens: wrong left and right right.
On an iPhone 6 with a silver back, you can easily see whether the lens is correctly centered over the camera lens: wrong left and right right.

How well it works depends on how skillful you are at centering the lens in question over the iPhone lens. Usually you get it somehow, but with the ultra-wide angle from inLine I just couldn't manage to prevent the photos from getting black vignetting at some corners. But everything went great on my iPhone 6. There you can see at a glance whether the lens is correctly centered over the lens and you can take photos quickly without having to fumble with the lens for a long time (see photo above).

Unfortunately, you can't get good photos with the ultra-wide angle and the iPhone 7 Plus. A corner is covered at the bottom left and there is a lot of blurring in the photo.
Unfortunately, you can't get good photos with the ultra-wide angle and the iPhone 7 Plus. A corner is covered at the bottom left and there is a lot of blurring in the photo.

Not recommended for use with the iPhone 7 Plus

In addition to the fiddling mentioned above that you have when adjusting the lenses on the iPhone 7 Plus, there is also the fact that you simply cannot take sharp photos with the ultra-wide angle and the iPhone 7 Plus, for example. I tried it several times and pushed the lens back and forth, but what came out was always at most in a small area in the middle sharp and otherwise out of focus. So my recommendation would be to use the clip-on lenses for the iPhone models with a single lens, but not with the iPhone 7 Plus, which has two lens knobs.

This is what the attachment lens looks like on the iPhone 6. Installation is easy if the smartphone has a protuberance on the camera lens.
This is what the attachment lens looks like on the iPhone 6. Installation is easy if the smartphone has a protuberance on the camera lens.

Photo quality of the lenses

When it comes to quality, don't forget: We're talking about small lenses that you clip onto a smartphone. And then a hobby snapper like me comes along and talks about “photo quality”. :D Just keep in mind that I like to take photos in my free time and have tried out a few clip-on lenses. It should be clear to everyone that the entire apparatus cannot be compared to a DSLR with “real” lenses. But there is no question that you can still take great pictures with the small lenses!

Edited, but still beautiful: a good 1 cm in reality, but impressively large thanks to the macro lens.
Edited in Photoshop, but still beautiful: a good 1 cm in reality, but impressively large thanks to the macro lens.

The photos I was able to take in my garden were all quite impressive. In particular, the visual impact that they have compared to the photos with the normal iPhone lens is enormous.

On the left the photo with the ultra-wide angle and on the right without. Photographed with an iPhone 6. You can see how the effect of the image changes due to the new perspective.
On the left the photo with the ultra-wide angle and on the right without. Photographed with an iPhone 6. You can see how the effect of the image changes due to the new perspective.

The inLine smartphone lenses in detail with sample photos

As mentioned above, inLine provided me with three different lenses. I would like to briefly explain which areas of application these have and how this looks on the basis of photos in comparison to normal iPhone photos. I took all the photos with the iPhone 6 (not Plus) and didn't do any post-processing either. Only the pixel dimensions of the photos were calculated small, otherwise the amount of data would have been too large.

0,39x ultra wide angle or 6x macro lens

With this lens you can take wide-angle shots, for example to get “more” on the photo in cramped conditions, as well as macro shots with 6x magnification. I've tried both and I think they work really well. With the wide-angle shots, however, you should make sure that the horizon runs roughly in the middle of the picture, otherwise it gets a more or less strong curvature, which usually looks a bit strange.

Unfortunately, the blurriness, which increases more and more towards the edge, is also typical of such ultra-wide-angle lenses. You simply have to accept this effect with small smartphone lenses. If you get close enough to an object, it always turns out a little less or looks almost intentional. Here in the example with the “Construction trailer and lake” photo I find it too clear, while the snowdrops look very nice with the same lens (earlier in the post). For macro shots, however, the macro HD lens is better suited because it shows more sharpness of detail and also a good one Depth of field having.

Sample photos ultra wide angle lens

iPhone 6 without additional lens and without processing.
iPhone 6 without additional lens and without processing.
iPhone 6 with inLine ultra-wide-angle lens and without further image processing: The captured area is significantly larger, the colors strong, but unfortunately the photo quickly becomes blurred towards the edge.
iPhone 6 with inLine ultra-wide-angle lens and without further image processing: The captured area is significantly larger, the colors strong, but unfortunately the photo quickly becomes blurred towards the edge.

3x telephoto lens

The “3x Telephoto Lens” is to be used for zoom shots at a distance of about 0,5 m or more. If you get closer, the camera cannot focus on anything. However, for longer distances it is very good! Since the iPhone 6 and 7 (without Plus) do not yet have a separate 2x zoom lens built in, the 3x telephoto from inLine is a good addition to these smartphones. You don't need it as much for the iPhone 7 Plus, since an optical 2x zoom is already built in. Nevertheless, here are two example photos with the iPhone 6 “normal” and one with the inLine Tele.

Example photos telephoto lens

iPhone 6 without additional lens with 100% section of the central image element.
iPhone 6 without additional lens with 100% section of the central image element.
iPhone 6 with 3x telephoto lens and 100% section of the center of the picture: You can see significantly more details than on the "normal" photo. However, it should be noted that here, too, a blurring occurs towards the edge of the photo, which is not visible on the normal photo. The telephoto lens is good to use for image sections.
iPhone 6 with 3x telephoto lens and 100% section of the center of the image: you can see significantly more details than in the “normal” photo. It should be noted, however, that here too there is a blur towards the edge of the photo, which is not visible in the normal photo. However, the telephoto lens is good to use for image sections.

2,8x Macro HD lens

My favorite lens is definitely the “2.8x HD Macro” from inLine. The magnification is good and with sufficient lighting it also convinces with the good depth of field, which is rather the exception with these small smartphone lenses.

Focusing works less by tapping the spot on the display (as is usually done on a smartphone) than by varying the distance to the object. At about 2 to 4 cm away, the photo becomes sharp and then you release the shutter.

If you compare the "normal" iPhone 6 photos with those that were taken with the macro HD lens, you can see how large the objects can actually be photographed. The factor 2,8 is not that high, but you can get much closer and the photos are still sharp. This also makes a big difference in terms of the “overall” magnification factor.

Sample photos HD Macro Lens

iPhone without additional lens and without post-processing: Unfortunately, the autofocus has focused on the lower element of the rusty garden decoration.
iPhone without additional lens and without post-processing: Unfortunately, the autofocus has focused on the lower element of the rusty garden decoration.
iPhone 6 with HD Macro Lens: The macro lens allows you to get very close to the object. You can see an approx. 1,5 cm wide strip of garden decorations here.
iPhone 6 with HD Macro Lens: The macro lens allows you to get very close to the object. You can see an approx. 1,5 cm wide strip of garden decorations here.

Conclusion on the inLine lenses

Personally, I wouldn't need all three lenses, because the ultra-wide angle has too little edge sharpness and I would use the 3x zoom too seldom. The Macro-HD, on the other hand, completely convinced me. But this is a personal matter and can be different for everyone. I just like macro photography and that's why I really enjoy using these lenses.

Overall, the inLine lenses can be recommended. The processing quality is on a high level and the optics of the lenses are also on a good level. In any case, I can't fault the macro shots. The colors in particular are beautifully strong but still realistic with all lenses.

With the inLine clip-on lenses for smartphones, you get a good price-performance ratio and an attractive look.
With the inLine clip-on lenses for smartphones, you get a good price-performance ratio and an attractive look.

Only the incompatibility with the iPhone 7 Plus is a shame. But the other manufacturers also have nothing to offer, so that you currently have no alternative to choose from anyway.

If you are interested in inLine smartphone lenses, you will find them all here in the overview.

inLine smartphone lens 3x telephoto
The telephoto lens has a focus range from approx. 0,5 m to infinity. So it is less intended for close-ups but rather to bring objects that are far away.
inLine smartphone lens Ultra Wide 0.39x with Macro 6x
With this clip-on lens you can take both wide-angle and macro photos. However, I do not like the sharpness of the wide-angle photos in larger landscapes, nor the depth of field of the macro photos. My recommendation would rather go to Macro HD.
inLine smartphone lens 2.8x HD Macro
A clear purchase recommendation applies to this lens. It takes great macro shots with decent sharpness. And all for a great price. A good addition to any iPhone.

Untested: fisheye lens and polarizing filter

Untested by me, but still interesting, perhaps these two lenses or filters from inLine:

inLine smartphone lens Fish-Eye 0.30x
What comes after the ultra-wide angle? Sure: a fish-eye lens. This one has a minimum focus distance of 10 mm. It also allows interesting close-ups with special perspectives.
inLine Smartphone CPL filter
A polarization filter like this one takes care of the filtering of reflected rays. The effect is mostly visible in photos through stronger colors, fewer reflections on the water and clearer contrasts in the sky. Maybe I can get this filter for a test. I would be very interested in the effect.

My tips & tricks about technology & Apple

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The page contains affiliate links / images: Amazon.de

1 comment on "In the test: inLine smartphone lenses on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 Plus"

  1. Thank you for the interesting contribution. With such lenses you can turn your smartphone into an almost professional photo camera. I can really recommend it.
    Best regards,
    Jana

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