Premium lens-maker Zeiss has joined with office-equipment workhorse Fellowes to develop and distribute a line of lenses for phones under Fellowes' ExoLens brand (created when Fellowes entered the mobile lens market in 2014 with its purchase of Optrix). They'll be starting with a trio of telephoto, wide-angle and novel zooming macro.
As yet there's no pricing, but Zeiss expects them to ship by the end of June, and the initial system will be available for any iPhone that has a 6 in its name. As for names, the telephoto and wide angle will bear the product-line moniker "Mutar," while the macro is dubbed "Vario-Proxar".
The "Vario" references the lens' variable focal length capability, although I think it's more intuitive to consider it a variable angle-of-view lens, able to cover areas of between 3 and 12 centimeters. It has an optional a clear diffuser on it to help gather light when you're practically on top of the subject.
Like Moment's lenses, they're black anodized aluminum, and attach to the bracket via a machined aluminum mount; these screw on, however, unlike Moment's bayonet mount. It looks like the bracket is the ExoLens contribution to the party and has both a standard tripod mount and a cold shoe.
Zeiss makes some grand claims for the lenses. On one hand, I believe they're probably awesomely designed and constructed, plus Zeiss says they're dust-and-splash resistant. But they still sit on top of a tiny wide-angle lens, which leads to a tiny sensor with little dynamic range, so at some point you may not be able to see a difference between photos shot with a great lens and a merely good one.
Like Moment's, they're pretty big -- look at the size relative to the phone in the product shot above. That's an iPhone 6s. And then there's price: Though we don't know what it is, we do know that Zeiss doesn't do cheap. It'll also be interesting to see how they stack up against similar offerings. And whether Moment will be able to keep the tag line "The world's best glass for your phone."
Check out the rest of CNET's CES 2016 coverage here.
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