Manfrotto, probably one of the oldest camera accessories vendors in the world, has clearly made an early bet with us mobile photographers. While other renowned photographic gear makers don’t even bat an eye-lid towards us, Manfrotto has not only created its own range of mobile photography gears, but they has also been nurturing the community by maintaining a blog called Manfrotto Imagine More that posts news, tips and tricks on mobile photography and run a regular mobile photo contest.

One of their latest invention is one I would call a One-Man-Band Mobile Photo Studio, why? Because that’s exactly what Manfrotto Klyp+ range of gears are about, a complete All-In-One solution to take your iPhoneography to the next level!

Introducing Manfrotto Klyp+

So what would an aspiring iPhoneographer need to kickstart his/her photography to the next level? Maybe some of these might help:

  • An iPhone case that is light but strong enough to protect the phone?
  • A set of conversion lenses to add that technical advantage over other phones?
  • An extension to mount the iPhone onto a standard Tripod, preferably one that doubled as a kickstand?
  • A powerful illumination to replace that ‘useless’ iPhone LED light?

Now, you could obviously get any of this gear individually from different vendors. For example, you could get this ‘Swiss-Army’ iPhone Case from IN1, then a set of Olloclip 4-in-1 Lenses, and one of these Glifs. Or you could get the TurtleJacket PentaEye for a case, lenses and tripod mount in one gear.

But if you want ALL of these in one package, then you should check out Manfrotto Klyp+!

The Klyp+ is an iPhone 5/5s only range of mobile photographic gears that consist of the following:

1. A protective iPhone bumper case specifically designed for the Klyp+ rail-system attachment and the conversion lenses.
2. A set of 3 conversion lenses, a Telephoto, a Wide Angle and a Fisheye.
3. A Tripod Mount attachment and kickstand.
4. A Wrist Strap
5. A portable and powerful LED light.

Let’s have a look at each of this component in a more details.

Protect and Serve

Manfrotto innovative design is centred around the uniquely shaped bumper case. This polycarbonate case, which has a very generous deep edges, will not only protect your iPhone but also serve as the rail-attachment system for the LED light and the Tripod Mount. There are 4 attachment points, one on each side, onto which you can slide in either the LED light or the Tripod Mount. It’s quite an innovative way of attaching gears to your iPhone I must say.

In addition, the case also features a thread connection at the back side directly situated on top of the iPhone camera, where you can attach one of the 3 conversion lenses.

Finally the case also provides you with a lanyard loop at the bottom corner of the case. You can attach either the provided wrist strap or any lanyard/writs strap really. This while felt more like a gimmick at first (reminding me of the handphones of the 90’s) is a nice touch and could be quite useful to secure your phone to your wrist while you are taking photo.

There are only three things I don’t really like with this case. First, it’s a bumper type only, which means your iPhone is not protected from behind. Sure the hard plastic will absorb the force if you accidentally drop it and hit the floor on it’s sides, corners, front or back. But it won’t protect you from direct scratches coming from the back (for example if you mix it with your house key in your pocket).

The second thing is the opening for the charger cable. It’s designed to ‘only’ fit the size of the original Apple lightning charger, or its clones. If you, like me, have got any third-party cable that has a slightly bigger ‘head’ then you are out luck. You will have to resign to take the case off every time you need to charge.

The third thing I don’t like from this case is the hard plastic material, once you click your phone in, it’s a nightmare to take it off, especially if you have different lightning charger cable as I described above. It also means that it’s not very practical if you have several different gears from different vendors (different set of lens maybe) that you want to swap around. So once you are using the Klyp+ you better stick with it.

Luckily for most of the time you don’t have to take you iPhone off because Klyp+ has everything you need.

A Helping Stand

Whilst I would prefer an integrated tripod mount built into the case itself, I admit that it might add a bulk to it. Instead Mafrotto chose to add it as a separate attachment. It comes in a small and light plastic ‘handle’ that has a regular tripod mount thread.

You can attach the mount onto the Klyp+ case by sliding it to one of the 4 attachment points around the case. This modular way of attachment allows you to mount your iPhone on a portrait or landscape mode.

Once it’s mounted to a tripod, the back-end of the mount which is angled diagonally upward can serve as a handle with which you can direct your phone. Although this trick would need a tripod that has a flexible head.

But that’s not all. The handle also can be used as an iPhone kickstand! If you attach it to the side rail-attachment point you can use it to prop your iPhone, horizontally or vertically. This is very useful for a hands-free action like for example watching movie or reading something.

Last but not least, the mount has a hole at the end of the handle, which can serve as a keyring loop. This way you won’t forget to bring it everywhere with you. Very handy!

The Klyp+ bumper case, which includes the Tripod Mount and the Wrist Strap, comes is 4 colours: White, Black, Pink and Red; and it costs $34 (£24.95).

Special offer for Manfrotto UK store, for the whole month of March 2014 you can get a 15% discount when you buy more than £20 worth of gear.  Not bad.

I have my eyes on you

The next gear on the Klyp+ range is the conversion lenses. These lenses were specifically designed to work seamlessly with the Klyp+ bumper case. If you remember I told you above that the bumper case features a thread located on top of the iPhone internal lens. Attaching one of the lenses is just as easily as screwing it to the thread and you are ready to shoot. There are 3 lenses included in the set, each is made of solid aluminium and donning a tough high-clarity lens. Manfrotto interestingly call them by the way you would use each of the lens, i.e. Portrait, Landscape and Fisheye.

The Portrait lens is basically a Telephoto lens with 1.5x magnification. Why they call it a Portrait lens? Well, here is something I just learn recently about one of the use of Telephoto lens. It’s apparently a better lens to use for taking a portrait photo! This is because when using a Telephoto lens you won’t get weird image distortion you usually get when you take a portrait with your standard iPhone lens. You can watch Jack Hollingsworth talking about this in this video.

The Landscape lens is a Wideangle lens with 0.68 magnification. It allows you to capture more ‘space’ of your object without moving farther from the scene. You would find this useful indoor where space is limited and there is only so much you can move backward to try to get ‘everything’ in your viewfinder. It also useful when taking a large group photo as it allows you to include ‘everybody’ in one shoot. Lastly you will find it invaluable when taking picture of a big or tall building where distance to the building is limited.

The last lens in the set is the Fisheye lens. With its 0.28x magnification this lens allows you to capture ‘even wider’ scene compare to the Wideangle lens. But you will get a Vignetting effect and lens distortion around the edge of the image.

You can compare the result of the images I took with these lenses against some other lenses I’ve reviewed before.

As you can see from the example above, Klyp+ conversion lenses can take a pretty good quality of images with minimal lens distortion for the Wideangle and Fisheye lenses.

Each lens came with a bottom cover and a lens cap to protect both ends of the optic. A small velvety pouch is also provided for you to carry the lenses together in one place.

The only downside about this type of lens attachment (screw in type) is that you can’t use it on its own, you always need the companion case to attach the lens into. That means you need to get both, the lens kit and the case together. It’s a less flexible (and probably more expensive) alternative to buying separate gears but at least you have them working together in harmony.

Mafrotto Conversion Lens kit cost $73 (£54.95)

Let there be light!

Let’s face it, the iPhone LED light is the most useless thing of the entire photographic outfit. Not just for the iPhone but also for any other smartphones that use it (I really miss the Xenon flash of my Sony old mobile).

Suffice to say, the LED light is almost alway never work, period. It’s ‘probably’ ok for taking selfies picture of yourself and friends on the night out down in the local club, but apart from that I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. In fact the only time I’ve been using it is when I need an emergency flashlight.

Low light performance has indeed been the Achilles Heel when it comes to mobile photography. Not that the bigger DSLR hasn’t got the same problem, but DSLRs have a much bigger sensor (means higher sensitivity) and are able to adjust their shutter speed manually (give a better control on the amount of light coming to the sensor). Ultimately, DSLRs can employ big and powerful Flash Guns to help them illuminating the objects.

How can mobile photography level the playing field? You can try to use one of these Manfrotto LED lights.

The first version of Klyp, which is still available if you have an older iPhone, also feature a rather big LED light that you can attach to the case. The Klyp+ LED light on the other hand is a new design that is fractionally smaller and lighter than its ‘big brother’. This teeny but powerful light features new Surface Mount LED technology illuminating in a 60° angle and a luminance of 225 lumens. These means that the beam from the Klyp+ LED can reach wider and further guaranteeing very bright image in a low light condition, even in almost total darkness. You can use it for a filler too.

In addition, Manfrotto claimed that they have carefully chosen high quality LEDs that apparently ensure you get a vivid colours and skin tones in your pictures and videos (yes the always-on LED light is also perfect for taking videos).

The Klyp+ LED light is rechargeable via USB and can be dimmable at 3 different levels of intensity.

As other gears in the Klyp+ range you can attach the LED on one of the ‘rails’ on the bumper case.