Photo Illustration by Josh Raab for TIME

8 Camera Lenses That Will Transform Your iPhone Photos

Updated: Dec 16, 2016 3:23 PM ET | Originally published: Dec 28, 2015

The iPhone's camera is plenty powerful, but it does have limitations. Because it has a fixed focal length, it can't produce images that are truly telephoto or wide-angle, for instance. Luckily for iPhone photographers, a wide variety of third-party lens attachments are now on the market. They make it possible to get all sorts of unique photos with the iPhone's camera, expanding shooters' creative potential. TIME tested a number of these lens attachments to see which stand out from the pack. Each was tested on an iPhone 6s. Here's what we found:

Photojojo Iris Wide Lens
Photojojo Iris Wide LensJosh Raab for TIME

Photojojo Iris

This lens connector and three-lens set comes with an E-Z Installation guide, but there was nothing easy about actually attaching the gear. The Iris works with some cases thanks to a small piece of plastic inserted between the phone and the case. Once installed, the lenses worked well, though the mount keeping them attached to an iPhone is bulky and uncomfortable to use. (Buy here: $49.99 on Amazon)

Gifts: The 100 Most Influential Images of All Time

Olloclip 4-in-1
Olloclip 4-in-1 LensJosh Raab for TIME

Olloclip 4-in-1

The Olloclip packs a lens on either side, meaning both your landscapes and your selfies can be improved. They don't always fit snugly on the iPhone 6s, but an accompanying case helps. A diverse set of lens options means there's glass for every kind of photography, ranging from close-up macro images to funky fisheye photos. (Buy here: $79.99 on Amazon)

Mobi Fisheye Lens
Mobi Fisheye LensJosh Raab for TIME

Mobi-Lens Kit

These clip-on lenses aren't much to look at, but they're tons of fun to look through. The fisheye lens offers a full 180-degree view with plenty of curvature, while another option offers a more normal wide-angle result. The Mobi lenses are easy to attach and remove, and can work with many thin iPhone cases. (Buy here: $70 on Amazon)

Gifts: The 100 Most Influential Images of All Time

LM-30 Lens
LM-30 LensJosh Raab for TIME

Lensbaby Creative Mobile Lens Kit

Lensbaby's tiny lenses are easy to use and relatively inexpensive. The glass provides varying zoom magnifications, including a 2x extender. The company's most fun lens to use is the LM-30, which creates a prism effect around the edges of your images. The lime green plastic mount isn't the nicest-looking, but it does allow for each magnetic lens to be snapped on and off with ease. (Buy here: $99.95 on Amazon)

ALM 37 Wide Converter Lens
ALM 37 Wide Converter LensJosh Raab for TIME

ALM mCAMLITE Starter Kit

While most photography equipment strives to be low weight, the ALM mCAMLITE is intentionally heavy. This lens is actually a mount intended for taking video; the weight provides increased stabilization. The lens' size imitates the look and feel of a professional camera—and weighs almost as much, coming in at 1.2 pounds. The stabilizer includes mounts for tripods, an external microphone, an external flash, and interchangeable lenses.

The ALM might be overkill for amateur photographers, but it could be ideal for serious shooters out there. (Buy here: $95.99 on Amazon)

Gifts: The 100 Most Influential Images of All Time

Moment 18mm Lens
Moment 18mm LensOlivier Laurent for TIME

Moment Lenses

With a little commitment, the Moment Lenses are extremely easy to use. To use them, a .3mm thick adhesive mounting plate has to be stuck onto the back of the phone. It is not easily removable, but relatively unobtrusive. A wide array of magnetic lenses can then be connected to the plate and plucked off with ease. The stainless steel lenses are top quality and work with only minimal lens distortion. ($100/lens)

Aaron Hallenbeck snowboarding Glory bowl in Jackson, Wyo.
Aaron Hallenbeck snowboarding down Glory in Jackson, Wyo.Josh Raab for TIME


Now for something completely different: The FLIR One lets you take Predator-style thermal images with your iPhone, bringing military-style tech to your photography arsenal. The FLIR One connects to the iPhone's charging port, while a dedicated app controls its functionality. The heat-seeking camera is so sensitive that it picks up warmth through a person's clothes and even from buildings and trees, as seen in the video below. (Buy here: $221.44 on Amazon)

Gifts: The 100 Most Influential Images of All Time

Insta360 Nano

The Insta360 Nano does not use the phone's camera, instead attaching a separate camera to the iPhone through its charging port. The attachment is solidly built and easy to use. It requires the use of a proprietary app, but allows for the user to easily shoot 360 degree photos and videos. Here's a 360 degree photo we took with it. One quirk is that because the camera plugs into the bottom of the iPhone, the user has to hold the phone upside down while shooting. This may seem strange at first, but is not as inconvenient as it may sound. (Buy here: $195.00 on Amazon)

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