From water to clouds, the INMACUS Light Control helps you to capture majestic movement effects and can reduce lighting intensity.
I remember family trips as a child, mostly thanks to the pictures that remain. My father would bring along our amazing Canon camera and would attempt to immortalize the family events. Unfortunately, that means that my father was able to hide from our pictures. I am not certain if he did not like being photographed or if he wanted to master the very complicated film loading/winding system and to protect the variety of changeable lenses. I remember film, I remember friends taking photography classes in high school and college. Analog is not dead, film is not dead, but with Kodak film going the way of the dodo, it is less mainstream. For the vast majority of people, smartphones have replaced stand-alone cameras. Each generation of phones seem to provide more megapixels, better camera technology allowing the digital imaging to become a dominant form. Although photography was never a hobby or forte, I can point and click like the best of them. If you can give a million monkeys a keyboard and expect Shakespeare, you can give me an iPhone 6S plus and I may capture the magic.
I have enjoyed the iPhone 6S plus, more than I thought that I would. I have been a fan of the iPhone since the iPhone 4 and have advanced roughly every 1-1.5 years since that point. With the 12megapixel iPhone 6S plus rear camera, I found that I was able to capture images in better definition than my wife could, with her Galaxy S5. Additionally, this proved to be just as good as my point-and-click Olympus. As a plus, I did not have to take my camera, camera bag, extra memory cards, etc. As a negative, you are somewhat limited in your pictures based on the application you are using. I have used and reviewed macroscopic lenses, wide-angle lenses, and fisheye lenses for the iPhone 6S plus. Each style of lens has its own uses. I often use a tripod, an iRig lapel microphone and a variety of the lenses to capture still frame/staged products. Here, I have received the HD Variable Lighting Control Filter from INMACUS, for review.
The key for a system of lenses is to enhance the quality of the photo or to enhance your ability to capture the photo. If it is difficult, if it is cumbersome, if it is bulky/challenging you will not use it. Part of the problem with all accessories for the iPhone 6S plus is that many of them require you to remove your phone from its protective case. There is a reason it is called a protective case. More often than not, when you remove the case you are putting your phone at risk. Is that image worth the risk? Most times I will just point and click with my phone inside of the Catalyst Waterproof case. However, the INMACUS filter only works with the naked phone.
The product arrives in a black rectangular cardboard retail packaging. The front details the title, the phone (6s specific) and the goal: “Capture Beautiful Water Effect.” You can see that there are IOS and Android versions. The wording is in silver and red, providing a beautiful, stark, contrast to the black backing. Rotating the packaging clockwise, the main side shows some of the features to include light reduction, image clarity, depth of field control and variable light control. The back of the packaging details the product. The Variable Light Control (VLC) Filter is used primarily to reduce the lighting for water movement, to soften the details creating a misty/cloudy majestic appearance. The secondary role of the filter is to reduce over-exposure in extremely sunny/bright situations. It works by controlling the amount of light entering into the lens and by reducing the shutter speed to capture the movement of water, even under bright light situations. A variety of effects can be generated, with various intensities, based on turning the filter to darker settings with the rotating ring. This product has an amazing open window of the device, showcasing the product very well. This is my personal favorite method of product display.
Opening the box, you will notice a blister pack containing the 0.8-ounce lens (fits iPhone 6S plus without case), a 5”x7” white lens cloth and a very classy black drawstring bag. This bag is very classy but provides very limited protection from everything except scratches. A small clamshell, a hard case would have been a better choice, something with a carabiner or belt clip etc also would have been nice. Again, it is classy, but may be easily lost, set aside and or forgotten.
The operating manual is nestled in the bottom of the blister pack. It is a 10-panel pamphlet, with front and back panels. The second page details the structure and the legend of the device. It is important to remind you that you must remove any case from your device to use this lens. I did remove my Catalyst case to take a picture. As I was not around a water source, I chose to photograph rainclouds and trees to show the effect. It is recommended in both the manual and on the packaging, to use a tripod and the auto image timer to reduce shaking motion. It recommends using apps, which allow you to manually set the shutter. This gave me the opportunity to try out a few different apps, I tried Top Camera Free and Slow Shutter free to start. This is a little different for me, as I tend to just use the built-in camera app. Neither of these apps allowed me to set the shutter speed to 1/30 or below but did slow the shutter some. This decreases the detail and gives the background a wispy appearance.
I have to admit, I have never used a light control filter or similar image capture device. I turned to the internet to learn more about the photography. Apparently, Camera+ is a good app, to gain more control over your phone camera. I learned about so many neat phone app features and camera+ app features through iphonephotographyschool In fact, they comment about how good the INMACUS Macro lens is (I may have to give this a try). Although I am in Western Kentucky and live relatively close to KY Lake, I have not yet been able to try the effect on water. I did try the effect on my rose bush in a slight breeze and upon moving clouds this evening. To get started, I had to remove my Catalyst case. I gripped both of the side buttons, opening the lens grip and placed it over the camera lens. Using the INMACUS UNIVERSAL SmartGrip and Flexipod, I took a few pictures of the moving clouds and of my swaying rose bush. I tried with the native phone app and using camera+ free, Top camera and slow shutter. This is not a review of the apps, but the top camera was okay, the slow shutter was not very good and Camera+ free which was the best of the apps. It provided numerous options for exposure, zoom and focus to name a few. You can upgrade with the manual shooting pack for 99 cents to adjust the image based on the ambient lighting.
There is a small triangle on the top of the of the ring. Set the lens to Min and notice lighter is let into the image. Set the lens to Max and notice the image darken. You really do need to use a tripod and phone timer as motion will cause the image capture to be really grainy and blurry. This is not a point and shoots option, not a hold your phone option. It is designed to be used for water images but does not work with waterproof cases. I could imagine a really neat above/below water image or an image just at the water surface. Either way, this is a limitation of the device. It does have some really neat effects, as see on the packaging.
The effects I was able to generate were neat and I suspect that when I get the chance to travel to Kentucky lake that the images will be amazing. I do not like that you cannot use this lens with a case. I do no think that it would be difficult to have a mildly more expensive grip. This would allow most cases to be utilized. This may change the filter and I will never claim to be an expert in optics. This lens provides a really neat option for water effects or even cloud effects but relies on external apps to control the shutter speed. It would be convenient to suggest a few useful apps in the manual. I like the packaging, I like the drawstring bag, but would have preferred a hard case. I personally do not feel that I would use the device that regularly, but I know a few friends who would love this feature for their lake photos. The technology is good, the product is good, the build is good and the INMACUS name as detailed by iphone photography school has an association with quality. If interested in making some water effect changes in your phone photos, consider giving INMACUS HD Light control your attention. I would rate this at 4/5 stars.