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REVIEW: Black Eye’s Pro Kit, An Instagrammer’s Secret Weapon

Helsinki-based Black Eye has released its ‘Pro Kit’, featuring three clipable smartphone camera lenses, which boast the ability to instantly up one’s Instagram game, no matter their camera’s capabilities.

Black Eye’s Pro Kit (A$199.99) includes the following three lenses; ‘Pro Tele 3X’, ‘Full Frame Fisheye’ and ‘HD Macro 15X’.

As the demand for carefully curated social media profiles continues to intensify, so does the demand for efficient photo editing software. Many developers have made their fortunes from apps which have the ability to transform the average photo into a professional piece.

Here, Black Eye seeks to break the mold by offering a physical lens attachment, which transforms a smartphone camera’s functionality, without relying on external editing apps.

Design

Black Eye’s Pro Kit comes in a zippered pleather case, which offers robust and durable protection. Each lens is housed in its own section, which makes for easy and accessible handling. As a minor point, it would be good if there was a label with each lens’ name, on the occasions you forget.

The lenses come with Black Eye’s clipper attachment, which offers no-fuss attachment to most smartphones.

A notable disadvantage of the lenses is that they are comparatively more fiddly when trying to attach to dual-lens smartphone cameras.

Black Eye’s lenses claim to feature “triple coated” and “hand polished optics”, for crystal clear natural colours, to reduce any unnecessary glares. The lenses feel solid and robust, and I found light glares were somewhat minimised.

Performance & Value

Retailing for A$199.99, it’s clear Black Eye’s Pro Kit is a premium smartphone accessory.

At this price point, consumers are demanding something which outperforms the capabilities of a free photo editing app.

HD Macro Lens

The ‘HD Macro’ lens is excellent and offers a result that is invariably very difficult to replicate through most third-party editing apps.

The HD Macro lens claims to offer 15x zoom, with a focus distance of 20-26mm.

Images captured are largely crisp and clear, which is essential for a Macro lens.

Notice how each grain of sugar is highlighted, and how the ripples in the glass of wine are evident. It’s truly a mesmerising and stellar result. Again, hard to replicate with third-party editing software.

Here’s are examples of the HD Macro lens in action below:

(The unedited photographs were taken on a Motorola X4)

Full Frame Fish Eye Lens

The Full Frame Fish Eye lens is my second favourite in the kit, and despite the flurry of ‘fish eye’ apps on Google Play, offers a crip and impressive result.

Black Eye claims the Fish Eye lens offers a 180-degree viewing angle, which is “perfect for selfies and group shots”. Unfortunately, I believe the trend of fish eye ‘group selfies’ is long gone, however, if a re-emergence occurs, this lens has you covered.

That aside, the results speak for themselves (below).

Something to note, finding the perfect fit on the Motorola X4’s dual-lens camera was somewhat fiddly. Obtaining sharp images was somewhat difficult because of this.

Images are striking, and offer an interesting mix to an otherwise standard ‘scenic’ shot.

Black Eye claims its Full Frame Fish Eye lens offers 15mm equivalent in 35mm format capabilities – plus a full frame for 1/3 camera sensor.

Here’s an example of the Full Frame Fish Eye lens in action below:

(This unedited photograph was taken on a Motorola X4)

Tele 3X

Black Eye’s Tele 3X is my least favourite lens in the Pro Kit.

Unfortunately, with the progress of third-party smartphone camera apps, I feel a similar effect can easily be obtained through a free download.

Black Eye claims the Tele 3X offers a 39-degree viewing angle and gives images a shallower depth of field – boasting 60mm equivalent in 35mm format. The lenses claim to allow users to “get three times closer”.

Once again, unfortunately, the result is not as striking as the previous two lenses.

Here’s an example of the Tele 3X in action below:

(This unedited photograph was taken on a Motorola X4)

Overall

All in all, the lenses are a nifty and innovative offering, complimented by a sturdy and well crafted design, and overall, impressive image results.

However, as the capabilities of smartphone cameras continue to increase, it will be interesting to see where Black Eye goes in the future. Many smartphone vendors are already integrating such effects (e.g. Fish Eye) directly into their camera’s hardware, forgoing the need to download external apps, or use external clipable lenses.

That being said, Black Eye’s Pro Kit is an impressive gift idea for the hobby photographer, and the accompanying compact case ensures they come well presented.

Black Eye’s Pro Kit is available to purchase from several Australian retailers including; select David Jones and Harvey Norman stores, and independents such as ‘Hard to Find’ Melbourne, Leederville Cameras, Plaza Camera and Telstra’s Port Macqua Business Centre.

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