Pro-Photographer Jack Hollingsworth takes a closer look at Manfrotto iPhone KLYP System
PART 1: OVERVIEW OF ATTACHMENT LENSES
My name is Jack Hollingsworth. I’ve been a commercial photographer for 40+ years. More recently, I’ve fallen in love with my iPhone camera (you can hear my testimony here). And I believe, with all my heart, when all is said and done, that history will look at the iPhone camera as one of the most influential and pivotal captures devices of all time.
My approach in iPhone photography is unapologetically photographic. I think of my iPhone less like a phone and more like a camera. I’m passionate about the fundamentals of photography as they specifically relate to the mobile experience – light, exposure, subject, color, and design. So when Manfrotto asked me to write a 8-part series on the KLYP System, I was thrilled. This first installment is focused on an overview of attachment lenses (or add-on lenses).
Cut to the Chase
Let me cut right to the chase here. I like this product a lot. The more I use it, the more I like it. It is not without its shortcomings but I’ll explain that later. The KLYP is fun, affordable, well built and a great tool to add to your mobile photography toolkit. For those looking to discover new perspectives in your mobile photography…read on.
Just because I enjoy the KLYP System doesn’t mean I used these lenses for every subject I shoot. I don’t. Most of what I shoot is without any attachment lens at all. I break out these specialty lenses for specific interpretations of very specific subjects. The same holds true in my DSLR work.
I’m somewhat of a perfectionist and I’m not crazy about edge distortion or vignetting or general soft focus. But like everyone else, I’ve learned to go with the flow and celebrate these attachment lenses for what they do best.
It’s important to keep in mind, especially when you’re talking about attachment lenses, that you are putting glass on top of glass. The reality is that you are not improving image quality but actually only changing image ‘angle of view’ (AOV).
It’s More of a Production Kit
This kit, in my humble opinion, isn’t designed for everyday use – too many moving parts. It’s more of a ‘field production’ kit for intentional photography.
For those of you used to changing lenses on your DSLR, you’ll find this experience comparable. It’s more thoughtful and deliberate. Shooting with attachment lenses is a much slower process than the Instagram ‘spray and pray’ approach. Bring these lenses out if and when you need them. It’s that simple.
Here are a few reviews that I found online. They might be useful in helping you determine whether or not to purchase the KLYP System:
A Photographic Approach
Rather than cover the same evaluative approach as the above well-written links, I’m going to deviate a bit and approach the subject like I do everything else – photographically. I know what I like and what I don’t like. I know what works and what doesn’t work for photographers. Am I biased in my opinions? Absolutely. One thing you can count on me for, throughout this series, is to present practical, unadorned, straightforward tips, techniques and tactics that I think work well for mobile shooters.
Attachment Lenses are Not for Digital Perfectionists
Let’s get this out of the way…right now – attachment lenses are not for digital perfectionists. All smartphone lenses, regardless of the manufacturer, suffer from the same optical lens aberrations (sharpness, vignetting, distortion). In a nutshell, most, if not all, add-on lenses will generate images that are centrally sharp but compromised on the edges (the wider-angle the lens…the more compromised). Manfrotto lenses, while very good, are no exception. So if you’re not willing to temporarily trade off some image quality for mobility, affordability, and novelty, than stick to your DSLR and leave the attachment lenses alone.
The Discerning Mobile Photographer
I think it’s clear to see that, across the globe, we are slowly but surely moving toward the next stage of smartphone photography – discernment and discrimination. Thank goodness we are just now beginning to see apps and accessories that support our photographic sensibilities and sensitivities to create DSLR-like photographs with our smartphones. No more blind reliance on ‘over the top’ filters and post-processing trickery. Back to the fundamentals for exposure, focus, and color balance. The Manfrotto iPhone KLYP System is the kit for discerning photographers.
Match the Lens You Use to the Subject You Shoot
This mantra is so simple – match the lens you use to the subject you shoot. Subject first then lens choice second…just like you would with your DSLR. While the basic chart below will vary from photographer to photographer, the point here is to kick start the conversation and give you a starting point for why you would choose one lens over another:
Angle Of View (AOV)
The heart of why you would use a lens over another is the ‘angle of view’ (AOV). The AOV is the amount of scene covered and is designated in degrees. It is what the lens ‘sees’ – the shorter the lens, the wider the AOV; the longer the lens the narrower the AOV. Here’s an illustration of each of the KLYP lenses along with the corresponding ‘angle of view’ (not including the polarizer or macro lens):
Let’s Look at Some Images
Okay, let’s go from the classroom to the field and look at photographs taken with KLYP lenses. The differences between some of the lenses are subtle and minor while others are radical and significant. Keep in mind that the wider you get, the more compromised the edges become:
We have a lot more coming your way – 8 posts to be exact. Each one will cover some unique aspect of the Manfrotto iPhone KLYP System:
Part 1: Overview of Attachment Lenses
Part 2: Fisheye
Part 3: Wide Angles
Part 4: Telephotos (1.5x, 3x)
Part 5: Macro
Part 6: Polarizer
Part 7: LED Light
Part 8: Pixi Mini Tripod
Jack Hollingsworth is a world-renowned travel, portrait, stock and iPhone photographer. His love for mobile photography is infectious. Since his conversion to mobile at the Crane Hotel on the island of Barbados in 2011, he has traveled to over 20 countries and shot over 400,000 images with his iPhone. He’s a regular contributor to the Camera+ blog (SnapSnapSnap.photos) and he is currently authoring a book on iPhone Photography (eBook and print). Jack is a popular keynote speaker at mobile photography conferences and events and his approach to mobile is principally photographic in nature. He lives in Austin, Texas with his soul mate and two beautiful teenage daughters.