I haven’t really got this much excitement for a while about a mobile lens kit, not since the first time I used my original Olloclip. But the Ztylus lens kit and its iPhone case companion has managed to give me that same ‘fluttery’ feeling.
From the moment I opened the box and gazed on to the disc shape contraption I knew that I was holding a piece of engineering art. And as I learned about Ztylus, the company and the products they made; and having been using the case and peruse the lenses on every occasion I could find; I came to admire this small ‘creative engineering’ outfit and their vision.
Let’s have a look why Ztylus has become one of the best iPhone Gears I’ve ever come across.
PS: Learn also how you could get up to 31% Discount to get this cool kits at the end of this post.
Innovative and Beautiful Design
Admittedly, Ztylus was not the first mobile lens that uses a revolving mechanism to host multiple lenses in one integrated body. Some other manufacturers had done this type of design before, for example the TurtleJacket PentaEye which I’ve also reviewed in this blog before.
But Ztylus has managed to up the ante by creating a more sophisticated mechanism and beautiful design with its Lens revolver.
It’s so sophisticated that the first time I hold it in my hand I didn’t really know how it supposed to work. You see, unlike other revolver lenses, all 4 Ztylus lenses are hidden inside its shiny metal revolving disc case. Each of the lens is attached to one of the 3 retractable ‘arms’ that you swing open A.L.A Swiss-Army knife when ever you want to use any of it.
It’s an absolutely cool design! Granted it can take a while to learn it (I had to read the manual to find out what I had to do), but once you get a hang of it you will sling it like Billy ‘The Kid’ in no time.
Total Protection Case
Now, you might’ve been wondering how do we attach that lens revolver to our iPhone? The answer is by using its versatile protective case.
Ztylus too opted to use the same mechanism. But the choice of going for this route was not just for the sake of attaching the lens. No, Ztylus team had a bigger vision than that. You see, they thought about continuity and future proofing our investment, in turn lowering our total cost of ownership.
Let’s take for example my favourite Olloclip lens. As I told you on my previous post I was quite sad when I realised that I wouldn’t be able to use my trusted old Olloclip when I got my new iPhone 6 Plus, the form factor just didn’t match.
Ztylus on the other hand had all of these figured out. Basically you only buy the lens once and when you upgrade to a different phone with ‘God forbid’ different form factor, you would just need to get a new case for the new one. Your lens will still work since the case will have the same attachment mechanism. So instead of adapting the lens, they adapt the case!
That’s what I call innovation!
Ztylus protective cases are made from hard plastic that give all-around protection from every angle. I know this because I did accidentally drop my iPhone and was really glad that I had my Ztylus case on. The case had a scratch but my iPhone survived the accident, thanks to Ztylus.
The case comes in two separate pieces, the top part the the bottom part. To install the case you just slide your iPhone inside the top part and slide in the bottom part to close it. Finally there is a screw attached to the bottom part which you can tighten to secure the two parts.
The front part of the case has its edges raised to protect the iPhone screen when you put the phone face down.
The interior of the case is lined with soft micro-fibre material to prevent any scratches to your already scratch-prone iPhone 6 body. It also works as a rudimentary ‘shock-breaker’ to add further protection against drops and knocks.
All the buttons and holes are easily accessible. Even the part where the lightning plug located has quite a big gap so you can use a non-standard lightning charger cable with a bigger head, which is a big plus.
There 2 models available, one with hard plastic bottom part and the other one with hand-polished metal (the one I’m reviewing right now).
The whole case together feels very sturdy and tough, in fact it is also pretty heavy, especially the one with metal bottom part. This is something that one should be aware of as some of you might not like the added weight.
Finally, the surface on the back of the case has a leather-like rubbery touch. As a mobile photographer this is one important thing for me because it adds grip when I am holding the iPhone to take picture.
Now let’s check out the most interesting part of the case, that is the part where we can attached the Lens revolver. If you notice at the back of the case there is a round disc. This disc can be detached to make space for the Lens revolver.
The whole experience of detaching and attaching the revolver gives the same feeling as if I were attaching a DSLR lens onto a camera body. Especially when you need to line up the disc on the red dot mark and turn it to lock the disc. It give a satisfying ‘click’ sound too 🙂
Oh and by the way, that disc on the case also works as a kickstand.
Sling it like ‘Billy the Kid’
Let’s have a look at how we actually use the lens. This is really where the ‘magic’ starts, and I really want to applaud Ztylus team to design such a unique, functional and versatile system.
Basically, as I’ve mentioned quickly in the beginning of this article, the 4 lenses are attached to the 3 ‘swinging’ arms. The Fisheye and the CPL has got its own arm while the Wide-angle and the Macro together are attached on the last arm. The Wide-angle sits on top of the Macro lens and to use the Macro you need to detach the Wide-angle which is magnetically ‘glued’ to the macro lens.
To actually use any of the lens you need to rotate it into a specific position marked by a red dot. It will ‘click’ and lock into place also when it’s in that position. This makes each rotation from one lens to the next is precise.
When the disc is in the correct position you can then swing out the arm, similar to how you open one of the tools in a Swiss-army knife. The arm, along with the lens will swing out until the lens positions itself on top of the iPhone lens.
The case has a circular ‘protrusion’ that forms a ring around where the iPhone lens is. This helps the attachment lens ‘click’ into place, safely ‘locked’ inside the ring.
When you finish using the lens, or when you want to switch to another lens, just restore the arm inside the revolver, and repeat the process above with a different.
I couldn’t wait to try how the lenses would perform in a real photo shoot situation. And it didn’t disappoint, which was not surprising considering that they aren’t made of cheap plastic. In fact Ztylus lenses are manufactured from high-grade optical glass.
As I mentioned before, there are 4 type of lenses in the revolver. They are the Fisheye, the Wide-angle, the Macro and the Circular Polariser Lens (CPL).
The Fisheye as you know will give you that maximum angle to fit everything in front of you in a single frame. The only thing is that just like other Fisheye lenses the image will suffer from Barrel Distortion and will feature black circular frame around the picture, which Ztylus has a little bit more than my liking. Though this is understandable since the lens sits a little bit further from the iPhone standard lens. But apart from this, the resulted images are sharp and sport very little aberration (blurriness) on the fringes.
The Wide-angle lens gives you the same effect as the Fisheye lens albeit in a lesser degree, and without the distortion and the black edges. You will fit less scenery in a frame but still more than the standard iPhone lens. It’s a perfect lens to use in a situation where you want just to ‘squeeze in’ a few people in a group photo but you are running out of space to back away.