The iPhone 4 isnt exactly known for its camera which, whilst not altogether terrible, is not a patch on the 8mp beasts you might find in a Nokia handset. But none-the-less there’s never been a shortage of accessories that endeavour to help you make the most of that camera.
The Eye Scope Zoom Lens is one such accessory, bringing an 8x zoom lens to the iPhone 4 and granting a whole new dimension of photographic opportunities to explore. By which I mean, you can take photos with a fixed 8 zoom- something that’s of limited use but is certainly not useless. And, no, that’s not a typo; it’s really called the Eye Scope and not the iScope. This is a somewhat puzzling name choice, as anyone hearing it spoken in conversation is immediately going to assume it adopts the all-too-common “i” prefix in its moniker.
Coming in a compact box which contains the EyeZoom lens itself, a plastic case with a screw-thread to attach the EyeZoom to your iPhone 4, a fairly nice metal tripod and a little carrying bag it’s a fairly feature complete setup which you certainly can’t fault when it comes to value for money. The stand is actually absolutely essential to the kit, because taking zoomed in photos would otherwise require a superhumanly steady hand.
It’s fortunate, then, that the stand is a decent piece of kit. The clamp, whilst a little tricky to get attached to the iPhone, securely holds it in place. If you have a full-sized tripod handy you’ll also be pleased to know that the top part of the Eye Scope stand can be removed from its little tripod and attached, via its standard thread, to the top of its bigger brother. This is a much more convenient setup as adjusting and aiming the iPhone on the small tripod can be quite a chore.
A ball and socket joint gives the mini stand a fair amount of freedom for aiming your iPhone 4. It’s a little lightweight and top heavy, but you can tilt the iPhone back about 30-45 degrees before it overbalances. Ultimately the top part of the stand is the most useful part of the whole kit, with the aforementioned full-sized tripod compatibility it’s extremely useful if you want to use the iPhone 4 either to record videos for YouTube, or to act as a second video camera for some more interesting and diverse shot angles. The small tripod can be useful for this too, and with this in mind I’d say that the Eye Scope is a very useful thing to have, even if you toss the lens itself in a drawer and forget about it. I know I’ll be using the stand and clamp an awful lot more than the lens.
Now, the lens itself is a mixed bag. It does exactly what it says, bringing a significant optical zoom to the iPhone and permitting a bit of long-range photography which can be useful if you’re trying to capture wildlife. Alas 8x zoom isn’t really quite enough for anything serious, and the complete inability to adjust the zoom makes it impossible to take full advantage of the extra optics. The Eye Scope lens does, however, have a varying depth of focus. Coupled with the zoom, a more experienced photographer than I could probably get some nice depth-of-field effects out of their iPhone. I, on the other hand, couldn’t achieve much.
The Eye Scope case and lens are big enough to obstruct the iPhone 4 flash, so you’ll find little use for it in low light- that being said, your flash is unlikely to illuminate anything far enough away to require an 8x zoom to photograph in the first place.
The lens is good for shooting photos or recording video, although if you’re doing the latter through an 8x zoom I’d really bring into question exactly what it is you’re videoing. With photos it makes a marked difference, although I noticed some distortion around the edges of objects which was more prominent on harder edges indoors. Also, again more noticeable indoors and on man-made objects with straight edges, the lens produces a very slight inverse fish-eye effect. Outdoors these effects are less obvious but are still present. Ultimately the Eye Scope isn’t a professional tool… and nor is the iPhone 4… but for artistic shots, experimentation or just curiosity it does the trick.
The lens has caps for each end which you’ll want to avoid losing and, fortunately, the little carrying bag will help keep all the bits and bobs together. Ultimately, I’d recommend this as a gift to a budding YouTube video producer who can’t quite prop their iPhone up to get that perfect shot, and wouldn’t really suggest the lens itself as a suitable photographic accessory for the iPhone.
The Eye Scope can be nabbed for £29.99 from find-me-a-gift.co.uk, and I would highly recommend it to a budding YouTuber for the stand and full-sized-tripod compatible iPhone clamp alone. The iPhone 4 video quality is good enough to make it worth while, even if it lacks somewhat in the sound department.
I should probably have mentioned this sooner rather than consign it to a footnote; The clamp, being spring loaded, is also compatible with any phone you care to jam into it. If I can fit a Noka n810 in it, you could most likely fit any smartphone you care to try.