Features and Handling
The USB Fever fisheye lens is an aluminium cased lens with 3 element glass optical construction and supplied with an iPhone 4 back cover. The lens screws into the cover over the phone's existing camera lens to offer a 190 degree angle of view.
USB Fever 190 degree fisheye lens: Features and Handling
The lens is supplied in a blister pack. I picked it up from the office on my way to a record signing by Porcupine Tree's singer/guitarist Steven Wilson. I was short of time so as I was heading down Sheffield's A57 Parkway I decided to open the pack and get the lens ready. Short stopping points at traffic queues gave me time to attempt the task. What a nightmare! Getting into this lens was about as easy as extracting a tooth from a beauty queen.
I tried without success to perform minor surgery to the packing but ended up going for full scale destruction.
And when I eventually managed to prise my way in I was disappointed to find that the funky case design was just a card insert under the blister pack. The back protector case/lens thread is just a silky matt black. Thus ending my hopes of jazzing up my iPhone while taking fisheye pics.
The pack includes the aluminium lens. I was expecting a cheapish plastic construction so the build was a pleasant surprise, also the lens cap is aluminium and fits snugly to the lens to protect that larger area of glass. It all feels well built and valuable. When I set out testing this I had no idea of price and was expecting something costing at least £100, so was pleasantly surprised to find a price tag of just £26. If you buy one without the case/holder (lens appears to hold on with magnets) you can find them for about £18.
The lens measuring just 33mm diameter and 15mm high, with a weight of just over 19 grams. As well as the front aluminium push on cap there's a rear plastic cap which is small and likely to get lost when you take it off and attach the lens to your phone.
USB Fever 190 degree fisheye lens: Performance
I didn't have chance to become familiar with how the lens worked when I arrived for the Steven Wilson signing, as I'd literally finished ripping the pack apart when I parked up and rushed over to the shop. So my first shots where in Record Collector in a queue. I was less than enthusiastic about quality. When used with the built in camera or the Camera + app the full circular effect is being cut off. The packaging shows a full circular effect. You can use the elliptical marquee tool in your image editing program to copy & paste this area so a full circular affect is achieved, but in camera would be better.
I also thought sharpness was poor. The light in Record Collector is, like many shops, strip lighting fluorescents, so that didn't help.
When my turn came to speak with Steven I decide to get a shot of him signing the album. I was able to place the iPhone with lens on the counter and shoot back towards him. I wouldn't have been able to manage this with a normal camera in the space available or time frame allocated. So I got a shot I would not have otherwise had. The quality again is very distorted and poor. And as it's 190 degrees I'd failed to hold my fingers out of view as I operated the camera. I was starting to think the lens was a waste of time and money.
I headed off to Derbyshire and shot a few landscapes. Fisheye lenses aren't brilliant for scenic landscapes, but treescapes taken with the lens pointing upwards can look cool and the lens did a decent job here.
There's lots of colour fringing, but the amount of subject you get in and the circular motion provide interesting viewpoint.
I later wandered around Worksop and photographed buildings and park scenes. It's amazing how much you can get in with a fisheye. The shot below of the Worksop Priory is badly distorted, but it's all in the frame and I was stood right underneath it. You can also point the camera and take candids without them knowing, even when they're up fairly close.
It has an incredibly good close focus too. The spec says 40mm but that's from lens to CCD. The lens can almost touch the subject and focus. Below you'll see the photo of the rose doesn't look distorted and all the background curves over. You can be very creative with this lens. I played on the curve aspect when photographing the vases and lanterns.
I also found when combined with the iPhone's various camera apps I could create more interesting images with distorted colours as well as content.
But it was at the point where I started playing with people pics when things got really interesting. This lens is phenomenally good fun. You can go in really close to the person. Ask them to pull a face and record their huge distorted expression. I couldn't stop laughing at some of the images taken.
There's lots of aberrations, results are not always super sharp and avoiding certain distracting background objects is often impossible, but when you hit on the right subject you will be rewarded with entertaining images that can be highly creative too. It works best when using camera apps with square format as the wasted curvature is cropped. With this format it almost becomes a full frame fisheye.
Have a look at the photos below to check quality (click high res to see the original photo). The self portrait with my clawing hand in front of my face, for example, has plenty of detail in the fingerprints.
USB Fever 190 degree Fisheye lens for iPhone Other sample images
USB Fever 190 degree fisheye lens: Value for money
At a price of around £26 this is amazing value for money. It would have been good if it was plastic at this price point, but it's not - it has an aluminium case and glass optics and even a metal cap. If this was a digital SLR lens it would be at least 10 times the price even for a budget Samyang model.
USB Fever 190 degree fisheye lens: Verdict
Brilliant value and immense fun, if you have an iPhone this is one accessory you should buy. I've been reviewing kit for over 20 years and never had so much fun. At one point I couldn't stop laughing at the hilarious portraits I was taking. And it's certainly a crowd puller at parties. You will probably find you can even take pictures of people who don't normally like being photographed too. Stick one on your wish list now!
|In the 20 years I've been reviewing kit I've never had so much fun with a product, making the 190 degree fisheye the must-have iPhone accessory!
USB Fever 190 degree fisheye lens: Pros
Loads of fun
Really well made
USB Fever 190 degree fisheye lens: Cons
Full fisheye circle cropped in camera
No focus or aperture control
|VALUE FOR MONEY
USB Fever 190 degree Fisheye lens for iPhone Specifications
|Focal Length||No Data|
|Angle of View||190°|
|Max Aperture||No Data|
|Min Aperture||No Data|
|Filter Size||No Data|
|35mm equivalent||No Data|
|Box Contents||front metal cap, rear plastic cap, back cover for iPhone 4G|
View Full Product Details
The 190 degree fisheye is available from USB Fever for £26.