iPro Lens | Blog

Welcome to the new iPro Lens System online photo gallery and blog! 

We are so happy to be able to be here on Zenfolio where we can post images and blog not just about the iPro Lens System but about iPhoneography, digial media, and beyond!

Tiny Technology Titillates

February 26, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

When Canon first announced a DSLR Camera with video capture capabilities, Canon had no idea what kind of a monster they had unleashed.  The first year of the 5D Mark II’s existence was riddled with firmware upgrades that never seemed to fully satisfy the needs of the market it had inadvertently created.   Professional Cinematographers needed the system to be more capable and the consumers just wanted to have something they could understand.  Canon listened and rather successfully accommodated everyone, considering it was merely a side option they had originally added for simple documentation purposes.

Now, with the recent Oscar win of the Documentary “Searching For Sugar Man” one of the biggest stories surfacing is the fact that some of the film was shot with an iPhone.   Serious budget issues had left the filmmaker out of film, and out of money to buy more, so he turned to the only thing he could afford – the Smartphone App  “8mm”.  I had first heard of this App a little over a year ago when iPro Lens System’s 2X Tele lens was announced and Rodney Charters, ASC called me to inquire about the lens for use on an upcoming TV pilot he was working on.  As he talked about the project he mentioned that he was using his iPhone for a few of the shots so that he could utilize the 8mm App.  Before our conversation ended I had already uploaded it and now I love it!

For the Still Photographers Hipstamatic had been the catalyst for Pro Photographers to pick up their phones and start creating.  They were drawn to the old square format and film-like color qualities that we have loved for decades.   Then more apps came along to boost the Photog’s capabilities, such as Photo Shop Express, Camera +, and Almost DSLR.  Soon the term “Phonography” started being used as more artists were using their Smartphones to create Digital Art.  (See our previous Blog interview with Mark Hirsch.)

More and more I hear from friends, colleagues, and customers that they are using their phones for their projects because of the readiness of always having their phone with them and how budget conscious it can be.  Most professionals scoff at the idea that a Phone can be a serious tool, but many artists are proving that with the combo of creativity and ingenuity you can produce a high quality and unique piece of art.  As long as the Smartphone companies continue to develop the science for the Creative community, as Canon has, and as App developers bring us new tools, it will certainly be interesting to watch the expansion of Phoneography over the next few years.  

Jack Hollingsworth covers ACL Music Fest

February 08, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Austin Pro Photographer Jack Hollingsworth Covers Austin City Limits Music Festival with iPro Lens Kit  

By: Jack Hollingsworth

I recently attended and photographed the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Austin.  Not as press, but as a music fan.

What was unique about the experience for me was that I shot the event, not with my DSLR, but with my iPhone camera.  And I primarily used the super groovy iPro Lens Kit from Schneider. 

3 days.  8 stages.  100+ bands.  70,000 music fans a day.

My Photographic Mission     
My mission was deceptively simple: to explore, under commercial circumstances, the capabilities of the iPhone camera using the iPro Lens Kit.

You judge for yourself whether my mission was successful. http://iprolens.zenfolio.com/p35242373

Opportunities and Obstacles  

For those of you who regularly follow me on Twitter (@photojack) and Instagram (@jackhollingsworth), it should come as no surprise at all to hear me celebrate both the opportunities and the obstacles of shooting mobile photography – commercially and personally!

The iPhone camera is built for natural light subjects.  ‘Light, bright and white’ is my mobile mantra.  Where the iPhone camera struggles (but it is getting better with each iteration) is low light and night photography (i.e. concerts).

I had no problem at all at ACL during the day, in full light, getting everything I wanted – wide shots, portraits, close ups, and even some pretty good stage shots too. 

Where I had the hardest time was at dusk and evening, when the light levels where low and contrasty.

For the subjects and scenes I shot during daylight hours, I primarily shot hand-held.  For the end of the day and even shots, I used both a monopod and tripod to stabilize things.

Also, as you’ll hear me preach over and over again, it’s not about the gear, per se.  It’s about nailing great exposure and great composition.  Even the fanciest of mobile accessories will add little to nothing to your mobile body of work if you don’t first begin with a proper exposure.

That’s why I’m fond of camera replacement apps that support a dual reticle system.  In other words, apps that have separate focus and exposure reticles, for fine tune adjustments…like Camera+, ProCamera, Kit Cam, 645 Pro, and FiLMic Pro.

Always, always, always…expose for your highlights (brightest part of the scene).

About the iPro Lens System    

I love the iPro Lens Kit!  I totally do.  Hands down it’s my first choice and favorite for mobile conversion lenses and the kit I use most often of all the conversion lenses in my camera bag.

The iPro Lens System is designed to work together. It comes with 3 conversion lenses: fisheye, wide angle, and 2x tele lens.

Each small lens uses a bayonet mount to securely fasten onto the iPhone case.  It even comes with a basic handle to allow you to safely store your lenses.  You can even attach the handle to any ¼” 20 tripod thread.

The genius behind the iPro is not to offer you another camera, but to enhance the one you already have in your pocket.

These conversion lenses help you take your iPhone photography to a whole new level.

Focal Length and Field of View (FOV)   

The reason you use ‘conversion lenses’, on top of the 5 element, 2.4 fixed aperture lens that comes on the iPhone 4S/5, is to effectively change the focal length and field of view of the subject you are shooting.

If you want a wider field of view, use wide-angle conversion lenses.  If you want more of a tighter, compressed look…go with the 2x tele (effectively a 60mm).

BTW, the iPhone 4S/5 camera lens is the 35 equivalent of shooting with a 30mm lens (for stills) and a 42mm lens (for motion).

In the Field   

For most of the wide and establishing shots, I tended to attach the .65x wide angle (which is the 35mm equivalent of shooting a 19mm lens).  I also used the 180˚ fisheye, on a monopod, using the camera timer to get some pretty unique shots from above the crowd.  For crowd portraits, I was content to use the 2x tele lens (35mm equivalent of shooting a 60mm lens).

It would be misleading here to suggest that conversion lenses are always attached to my iPhone.  They’re not.  I use but try not to abuse conversion lenses.  The bulk of my mobile assignment is still shot without any conversion lenses. But when I need them, I’m usually grabbing my iPro Kit because it’s that good!  It’s sharp and it minimizes edge blur and vignetting.  But don’t take my word only.  Test it yourself.  The proof is in the final images!

Because I grew up in commercial photography, I’m especially picky about image sharpness.  The iPro Lens Kit delivers the sharpness I need, on a mobile device, like no other!

See You in October   

Due to popular demand, ACL 2013 is going to be spread out over 2 weekends in October.  I plan on returning, with my iPhone and my iPro Lens Kit, hoping to recreate my experience and get even better images next time (just heard a rumor that iPro is soon to come out with a new .45x ultra wide angle and 5x micro). 

I have to admit, it’s a struggle to pick up my DSLR these days! With mobile photography being so fast, convenient, affordable, fun, artistic, etc…what’s not to like about the experience?  Plus, I’m connecting and sharing my work with a global audience of fans, followers, and friends.  Go photography!

What’s in My Camera Bag?                                 

Here’s a few other items that I’m fond of as well, and are always in my mobile camera bag (I have a whole lot more accessories than just these but this short list is what I most often use):

•  MCam Lite

•  iStablizer mount and monopod

•  Joby mount and tripod

•  Zagg Sparq

•  Glif

•  Vanguard tripod





Mark Hirsch Interview

January 14, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

A Year in the Life of That Tree Recently we had the great pleasure of speaking with photographer Mark Hirsch on a special iPhone project he's been working on since Spring of 2012.  Enjoy!

Hi Mark!  We hear you have a really cool project you have been working on for a while and we’re thrilled to have you chat with us about it!   
Before we get to that, tell us a little about your Photography background.

My background is 20 years in the newspaper industry.  I was a Photographer for 13 years, a Photo Editor for 4 years, and then the balance of my career I was visuals editor, and I wrapped up my newspaper career in 2006 as the Visuals Editor for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa.  Since October of 2006, I’ve been an Independent Freelance Photographer doing corporate commercial, higher education, and Editorial Photography. 

You started a special project called That Tree.  Give us an overview of that project.
The project came about as a result of me buying an iPhone in December of last year. Shortly after, a friend of mine, who is a documentary photographer in the Twin Cities, sent me a text and she said, “Oh, you got your iPhone!  Isn’t the camera great?”  And I sent her a note, “Really?!”  Because honestly, I had not taken a single picture with my iPhone.  And she sent me a note back saying, “No, seriously, you need to take some pictures with it.”  And I think it was January 20th, we had just had a big snow storm in the Mid-west, and I remember I was driving home and I thought I should probably try and make a picture.  And there is this oak tree that I have been driving by since I have lived in my rural property for the past 19 years , so I park my truck and I trudge through the snow about 400 yards to this tree.  The wind is blowing, the snow is falling and it was just nasty weather.  I made about a dozen frames and I said, “Screw this!”, and I made a b-line back to my truck.  I got home, downloaded the pictures, opened them up in Photoshop, and honestly I was kind of blown away.  I just started laughing thinking, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me!’  I look back on the first digital cameras that we had in the newspaper industry back in the mid 90’s and the resolution of the iPhone] obviously rivals those early versions of the Pro cameras.  But, strait out of the iPhone camera: resolution, color quality, everything about it, I was absolutely blown away.

It’s really amazing how far technology has come.  I worked in a camera store when those first digital cameras came out and how far they’ve come since then.  And now it’s in your phone!
Yeah, the first cameras we had, I was the Photo Editor then, and I remember we paid probably $15,000.00 for the NC2000, which was a AP Kodak and Canon combination product, and that camera was like lugging two bricks around, it was huge!  It was maybe about 4 megapixel resolution, and it might not have even been that much, and the iPhone is an 8 megapixel.  Now the format I’ve chosen for my project is the Instagram concept of the square format, so I’m using probably 5 ½ to 6 megapixel resolution in my images, but they are absolutely incredible!  And I didn’t officially jump in to do the That Tree project that day, but I ended up,  as a result of her inspiration, doing just a photo-a-day on my personal  Facebook page.  It was the 13th of March and I was driving home and I had not fulfilled my personal commitment to posting an iPhone photo that day and I drove by the tree.  It was a day with just incredible light and I thought that would be an incredible subject for that day’s photo.  So I went down, made the picture, and posted it.  A week later my friend Warren Winters, who has a photo agency in Chicago, sent me a note saying he was digging that tree project.   And another friend of mine told me, and this is where the name comes from, that I should be doing a photo a day of that tree.  Warren then called me and said I should consider doing a full year in the life of that tree.  So, officially on March 24th I started the project. 

Just taking a picture a day is hard.  A lot of people start that project, myself included, and usually don’t get very far with it.  But I can imagine that just choosing one subject to photograph every day is a real challenge.  How do you stay motivated to get out there and do that every day?
Well, my motivation now just comes from my commitment to absolutely publishing a book as a result of the project.  That’s a pretty strong motivator in and of its self.  And the other thing is that I am so far committed to this thing, just the time I have invested, that it would just seem wrong to not follow through.  I will say that I have missed a few days, not by nature of choice, but by nature of being a Freelancer.  It’s pretty hard to turn down a commercial job or a client based job in order to shoot this project.  I had two weekends where I was shooting a job for the New York Times in Northern Iowa, so made sure to make an extra photo on Friday because I knew I was going to miss Saturday, and then I made a b-line back home on Sunday to fulfill my next day’s photo.  So I had two back-to-back weekends where I did that.  I had a photo project that I was doing for John Deere in Nebraska, where I missed 2 days and then I missed one other day where I had to shoot an extra photo in advance because my twin brother got married.  So far I have had 5 photos that were not shot live that day and it really pained me to have to do it.  My commitment all along was that I would post a photo a day, but then it evolved into a commitment to shoot a photo a day and ironically there are days where I’m down there more than once working on images.  We photographers tend to over analyze our own work vs. someone else having someone look at our work and have a more objective perspective.  And I might go out and shoot a sunrise photo and just lament it and think, “I can’t post that.”  Then I end up later in the day seeing great light and I go down and make another image.   And a friend told me I was deleting better photos than most of us shot today, which is a nice compliment although I don’t necessarily agree with it. 

One thing that jumped out at me when I was looking at the pictures was that compared to the professional freelance work you do, which are typically large photo shoots that are very busy and full of activity, this project seems pretty solitary.  It’s just you and the tree.  How do you think that has impacted you?
That’s a really good observation.  It’s had a tremendous impact on me.  I’m not a guy that I would describe as contemplative or solitary.  My approach to photography has always been driven by meeting the expectations of my clients.  This project was for me and no one else, so I approached it with a totally fresh perspective.  The result is that I’ve taken on a new found form of observation.  I didn’t look at things the way I’m looking at things today.  I didn’t get down to the minutia.  If I had a client job I might preconceive some options before going in, and of course you’re considering all of the technical aspects.  Is it going to be a natural light shoot, an artificial light shoot, what hardware am I going to need to shoot it with?  Whereas with this project I go in there every day and I don’t have any preconceived concepts because I’ve been looking at this same subject for 280+ days.  I’ve seen the tree from so many angles and so may perspectives that I have to be really open minded when I walk in there.  And I have to be willing to see the opportunities when they’re presented to me.  I’m not a religious guy, I’m not into the Zen philosophy or anything, but I think that by opening my mind, my eyes, and my senses to the possibilities of this tree every day that I get a sense of something like that.  Today is a perfect example.  I get to the Tree and there is fresh snow so I don’t want the picture to be of Mark Hirsch’s footprints all around this tree so I start way back from a distance, trying to come up with some new compositions.   It’s a gray, gloomy, overcast day and those kinds of days all look pretty much the same, so I don’t really have any light advantages for a fresh perspective.  Then I moved to a medium perspective but I still was striking out.  So I ended up right down by the tree.  I discovered an acorn shell that was still attached to the tree.  The Bur Oak acorn shell has got something like hairs around it and it’s really cool to shoot itself, but this one was full of snowflakes.  Now the iPhone really stinks for close focusing, and I don’t usually use the standard iPhone camera App, but I used it this time because it seemed to be focusing better.  I’m as close with my composition as I can with that set-up, its overcast light so I’m not really seeing things, but I make two frames anyway.   When I played back the images and zoomed in I was amazed at the details of the snowflakes which looked like tiny little stars!  But I thought I need to make this technically better so I get out my tripod and the Manfrotto Magic Arm and am adjusting everything when I bumped the branch!  That acorn shell was so fragile that it popped off the tree and landed in the snow.  But it didn’t matter, and I didn’t have to be overly technical, because I had already gotten the shot with those two frames.  So it was, again, one of those moments where I went in trying to be technical, but by just relaxing my senses and looking around I discovered a cool opportunity right there in front of me.  I’ve been a photographer for 25 years and I thought I was a pretty good photographer, but my skills of observation have increased just by nature of the simplicity of the tools I’m using. 

When we spoke before you had mentioned that you had used the iPro Lens System.  How have you utilized the system in this project? 
The kit I bought came with the Wide and 2X Tele lenses.  I’ve discovered that of those two lenses the one that I find I use most, as I’m certain of the quality of the output, is the 2X.  It gives me a radically different perspective and it pretty closely maintains that same level of sharpness as the iPhone lens.  It really opened up some opportunities where compositions that I had seen but there was no way I could fulfill it without cropping the heck out of the final image.  I probably have at least 5 images that I have posted since October that have been shot with the 2X.  I have been using the wide angle on occasion because it does offer you a perspective that I can’t get with the built in lens, but there is some edge softness that I have learned to work with.  And instead of looking at this project as I do my traditional work, this is a fine art project, therefore I have embraced that the softness on the edges of the wide angle lens.  And if I compose the image properly to have the subject matter in the center and work with the softer edges of the lens I really like the outcome.  And I probably have at least 3 images in the project’s collection that I have shot so far with that lens. 

Just to let you know, Mark, we do have two new lenses coming out soon – a Macro to let you get even closer to those snowflakes, and a newly designed wide lens that is wider and sharper on the edges.  We learned a lot with the current lens designs and working with such as small inset lens that the iPhone has, so we are able to make improvements with any new lenses that we add to the system.  
That will be really cool! 

What are your future plans for the That Tree Project?
With the help of a friend of mine we will be Self-Publishing a nice coffee table book with all of the images.  I’ve already started work on the layout, too. 

When this project is done do you think you will do another one? 
I don’t know, but probably!  It’s going to seem like a hollow day to not have this commitment, you know?   But then again it might seem kind of nice not to have a commitment, too!  I mean, I go to sleep at night and my wheels are spinning wondering what am I going to shoot tomorrow? 
I’d advise booking a vacation between the projects, though!
Yep! Absolutely. 

What do think has been both the biggest challenge and the biggest reward of this project so far?
I think the biggest challenge is the technical limitations.  I’m a professional photographer with every lens from a 16mm to a 300mm f2.8, and with an aperture range and ISO ratings that will allow me to shoot under nearly any lighting condition.  You don’t have any of that with an iPhone.  With this project I have become a landscape photographer and the best times of the day for that type of photography is around sunrise and sunset and those are the worst times of the day to work with the limitations of the iPhone!   So going in knowing those limitations I’ve become a master at getting the most out of the least. 
So basically your biggest challenge is the technical side and your biggest reward is overcoming that. 
Yep! Yes, absolutely! 

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat today!  We are looking forward to seeing the book out soon and good luck with the rest of the project! 
Thank you! 

Mark will finish his project this March.  He plans to have the book available by fall of 2013.  We will be certain to announce the release of the book!  In the meantime, you can see the photos he took with the iPro Lenses here: http://iprolens.zenfolio.com/p723864191

And follow Mark's project on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/photosofthattree?ref=ts&fref=ts

Mark’s tools of choice for iPhoneography are:
Camera+ App
ProCamera App
Snapseed App
Manfrotto Magic Arm
iPro Lens System


Influential Instagram

November 19, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Instagram has been one of the fastest growing social networking sites in the past few years, and it continues to grow at an extremely steady pace.   Facebook is still holding strong as the top Social Networking site, however Instagram has taken social networking to a whole new level.  And Facebook took notice of Instagram’s potential to enhance their site, as well as its ability to surpass Facebook in popularity, prompting FB to buy the company earlier this year. 

So what is so special about Instagram that sets it above the rest?  It’s as simple as the old saying:  “A picture is worth a thousand words”.  Throughout the centuries people have always had a fascination with visual imagery.  Images resonate strong feelings that cross language and cultural barriers to connect us all, ultimately creating Community.

Lots of people are posting pictures of the kids in their cute Halloween costumes, the family pets, and weird things we see while walking down the street.  And this is where Instagram started – a place for people to post and share images that represent their daily lives with friends and family near and far.  But it has certainly evolved far beyond that. 

The addition of the filters, frames, and select focus options have given creative license to people that never thought of themselves as having any artistic abilities.  For established artists, they have taken it to a whole other level combining several creative Apps to create an image, with Instagram being the portal in which they share their images.  One photographer friend of mine was so happy when she discovered Instagram because she had been in a creative slump for quite some time and by simply using this App in her daily life she felt a resurgence of that creativity come back that inspired her professional work.  Another friend of mine had never owned a camera before and was so inspired by the work he was producing in his iPhone that he has since expanded his photographic knowledge and is using film cameras now.  (Kids, if you don’t know what film is ask anyone over the age of 25 and they will fill you in.)  

Beyond the personal agendas, Instagram has become a major inbound  marketing tool, engaging the public with entertaining images and contests.  Images also add an element of personality that makes brands more relatable.  There are the obvious companies who utilize Instagram for their marketing, such as those making Apps and add-ons for the phones, including our own iPro Lens System (#iprolens).  But even companies outside of the visual creative fields are utilizing the power of Instagram.  Larger corporations are using it to run contests to promote their goods, Non-profits utilize the power of images to promote their services, and small businesses use it to gain notice and build a customer base.  Top trending Celebrities like Tony Hawk and Oprah Winfrey are also getting into the action - showcasing images from behind the scenes, their ad campaigns, etc to promote their projects and maintain appeal with their fans. 

However you choose to utilize Instagram,  whether you’re reviving or expanding your artistry, making a social commentary, managing inbound marketing of your goodies, or simply posting pics from your vacation, sharing those images within your social network gives a glimpse into the window of your world and how you view it.  

Photographer Elliot Erwitt said, quite simply, “The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.”  What do your images have to “say”?

By: Niki M.  Team iPro

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