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Add a Zeiss lens to your iPhone

Create: 01/09/2016 - 17:44
Zeiss ExoLens lenses


  • The lenses screw into a bracket that attaches to the phone
  • The barrels are made of anodized aluminum
  • Lenses will be available late in the second quarter of 2016

Zeiss is partnering with Fellowes Inc., a maker of computer peripherals, to produce Zeiss optics for the Apple iPhone 6 smartphones.

Fellowes already offers wide angle and telephoto ExoLens optics for the iPhone 6 models, as well as the Galaxy S6. It's not clear if Zeiss lenses will fit the existing Fellowes iPhone bracket. Initially, the lenses will be available for the Apple iPhone 6/6s and 6 Plus/6s Plus. Zeiss said it intends to add other devices. Prices haven't been announced, and they are expected to be available by the end of the second quarter of 2016.

These are accessory lens that are placed atop the phone's original camera lens and are held in place with the use of Fellowes' smartphone bracket. The lenses screw into the bracket.

Longtime users of Zeiss lenses will notice that the wide-angle and telephoto accessory lenses are Mutars, while the close-up lens is a Vario-Proxar. The Mutars were highly regarded lenses that were made primarily for the Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex and Rollei 16 cameras, while Proxar close-up accessory lenses were available for decades for many cameras, from Zeiss Ikon cameras to the Hasselblad.

There is no specific focal length for the wide angle and telephoto optics. Rather, the lenses are a magnification factor of the original lens, and that is 0.6x and 2x with the Zeiss wide-angle and telephoto ExoLenses, respectively.

For example, if your original lens provides a wide-angle view of 28mm, attaching the wide-angle ExoLens converts that focal length to 16.8mm (28mm x 0.6 = 16.8mm). On the telephoto side, the Zeiss ExoLens doubles the apparent focal length.

The lens barrels are anodized aluminum, and Zeiss applies its patented T* anti-reflection coating to cut down on flare and intralens reflections. The telephoto lens has a screw-on lens shade, while there is a diffuser available for the Vario-Proxar. It's not known if the lens shade and diffuser are included.

Zeiss uses aspheric elements in the ExoLens optics and claims that chromatic aberrations are corrected in all three optics. Zeiss says the Vario-Proxar will be the only accessory lens for mobile phones to offer a continuous zoom function.

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.