Zeiss Exolens review: Zeiss delivers on its iPhone-lens promises

The Zeiss wide angle gives you scene coverage equivalent to roughly 17mm (I think) for a nice effect, though it had me wishing the company had gone all the way to fisheye. There's the normal distortion you get around the edges of wide-angle lenses, but surprisingly little flare or fringing.

The telephoto lens is very nice for portraits, something that the normal lens isn't great for. And the macro lens works at various focus distances -- unlike most phone macros -- allowing for image coverage of 1 to 4 inches.

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The bracket mount slides onto the phone pretty seamlessly, but it blocks the flash, so you may not want to leave it on.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As you'd expect, the lenses are well constructed of aluminum and glass. In fact, with their bundled lens hoods attached, they look like Zeiss' high-end Otus line shrunk to Lilliputian levels.

However, going with the shrunken lens approach means tiny, untethered back caps that come off too easily and lens caps that are easy to lose. The Exolens screw-on mount is a pain for quick changes: I prefer competitor Moment's bayonet mount or Olloclip's and others' snap or slide-in approach. The bracket blocks the iPhone's flash, so you have to remove it if you just want to use the base iPhone camera.

Conclusion

These lenses definitely allow you to get more flexibility out of your camera, but that's pretty common. The image quality they deliver is less so, but not unheard of. And they're well designed and built. But for the money, I expect a little more; for instance, Moment's lenses are less expensive, but they have similar quality and its mount case has a small grip and a bayonet mount, and it doesn't block the flash.

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