Sandmarc lens review: Game-changers for your mobile photography

Last year I was sent two Sandmarc iPhone camera lenses to review and I’m so excited to share this review with you because I absolutely LOVE these lenses. I have the wide angle lens and the macro lens for an iPhone XS Max and they really do take your mobile photography and video-making to the next level.

 

 

Over the past 5-6 years smartphone cameras have become incredible. They’re so good that most of us don’t have ‘proper cameras’ and use our smartphones for all our photos and videos. I use my phone for about 80% of my photography. I love the fact it’s always in my pocket, ready to whip out when I spot something pretty or a moment I want to remember. It’s always charged and I don’t need to go hunting for a memory card every time I want to use it! I also have a multitude of apps to help snap the perfect photo, edit it and share it in minutes. I also find it so much easier when I’m out and about with my kids; I have enough crap to lug around as it is, I don’t need an extra camera bag filled with heavy gear! I love to capture the everyday moments with my kids but I usually have a baby in one arm, a toddler by the other hand and my eyes on an unpredictable four year old – there is no space in this situation for my DSLR camera!

 

But, if we’re being honest, smartphone cameras are nowhere near as good as a proper DSLR. I know, I’d love to pretend they are too but smartphones just aren’t quite there yet. But with the help of some fancy apps and an additional lens we really can take incredible photos with our smartphones.

 

I’ve tried a lot of smartphone lenses in the past but they quickly become another gadget that goes in the draw of ‘things I should sell on eBay but probably won’t get around to it until the item is so old it’s worthless’. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this?

 

So why am I raving about these Sandmarc lenses and why are they different?

 

Why the Sandmarc lens is better than any other iPhone lens I’ve tried

The main thing that’s better about the Sandmarc lenses is that it doesn’t clip onto your phone, it screws into the accompanying phone case. It screws on easily and this means the lens is always in the correct position.

I know, it sounds so simple but the problem with other iPhone camera lenses is that they clip onto your phone. It’s a bit like a clothes peg with a lens stuck to it. It’s fiddly and awkward to clip them in exactly the right position and they can slip down or move easily. You can’t pop your phone in your bag or pocket with the lens clipped on because they just slip off or move slightly and obscure the lens, meaning you have to readjust the lens for every single photo you take. And, trust me, if you take a lot of photos then this becomes boring very quickly.

The most annoying thing about clip on lenses is that you’re all set to take THE perfect photo and then you realise your lens isn’t quite right and the top corner is blurred out or obscured. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but it’s so frustrating and has led to me having all my clip-on lenses gathering dust in my office.

So this is the main reason I think the Sandmarc lenses are fab and they definitely won’t be going anywhere near that draw!

 

The Sandmarc Lens Cases

Each Sandmarc lens comes with a case with a special section cut out around the camera that the lenses screw into.

This case is the world’s thinnest phone case for smartphone lenses and feels really nice. I really like this case and I’ve been happily using it for months but it’s not for everyone. I know lots of people wouldn’t trust such a thin case and like to have something bulkier and bouncier incase you drop your phone. I actually thought I was one of those people, especially because my kids play with my phone a lot, but I didn’t ever bother to take the Sandmarc case back off and it’s been working nicely for me.

 

What if you don’t want to use the Sandmarc Case?

If you already have a case you love then the lenses do come with the peg-like clip, so you can still clip it onto your existing case.

 

The Sandmarc wide angle lens

The Sandmarc wide angle lens is my favourite. It’s a 16mm lens which allows 2x wider capture and I love the fact you can get a subject in the foreground but also have space to show a background too. It’s so good for getting photos of people with gorgeous backgrounds so it’s a perfect lens for travelling.

It’s great for any kind of photography where you feel like you want to get more in the frame.

I like it for:

  • Interiors – especially hotel rooms where you want to get the entire room in one shot
  • Selfies – so you can get yourself and your background in the photo
  • Group photos – to get everyone in without the camera being miles away
  • Vlogging on a smartphone – similarly for the selfies, it means the camera is at a more comfortable distance from your face and you can get some background in
  • When you ask someone to take your photo – The wide angle lens is great to then crop your photo to exactly how you’d like it to be. If you’ve ever handed a stranger your phone and they’ve taken a photo but it’s just not quite right (they’ve chopped off your feet or didn’t capture the top of the building you’re standing in front of!)  then you’ll like using the wide angle lens!

 

Here are some photos I took with the Sandmarc wide angle lens…

 

The Sandmarc macro lens

I probably won’t get as much use out of my macro lens as I will with the wide angle but I do love the effect. It’s hard to believe these photos were taken with a phone!

The reason I won’t use it much is because to take these photos the lens has to be almost touching whatever you’re photographing. If you move away from the item you’re capturing by just 1cm then the lens won’t focus. I’ve found it great for insects and flowers but I haven’t really figured out what else to use it for. I’m keen to get creative though and will be watching some macro lens tutorials on YouTube.

 

Sandmarc lenses for travelling

And of course, you’ll want to know what these lenses are like for travelling!

The Sandmarc iPhone lenses are great for everyday situations but they really come into their own when you’re travelling. They’re so small you don’t even need a bag for them; I regularly slip my lenses into my coat pocket and I easily switch between them. There’s no faff of having a heavy camera, let alone a bulky DSLR with a wide angle lens and a macro lens!

 

Final thoughts and who are these lenses best suited to?

If you’d like to up your photography game without spending hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds on expensive photography gear then I highly recommend these lenses. They’ve pushed me to be a little more creative with my photography and given me extra options when just using my iPhone. 

I’ve been on two holidays now where I’ve left my DSLR at home because I’ve felt confident I can capture everything I want using my phone and the additional wide angle lens.

If you’re an iPhone photographer looking to take the next step in photography then they’re for you.

If you have a DSLR camera but you often find it difficult or a burden to take your heavy camera out with you then they’re for you.

If you want to take better selfies then the wide angle lens is for you.

If you want to get creative and capture the tiny details of your life then the macro lens is for you.

But, basically, if you enjoy taking photos with your phone then I really think you’ll enjoy using the Sandmarc lenses.

Sandmarc lenses are more expensive than the average ones you’ll find on Amazon. The wide angle is $99.99 and the macro is $89.99 but you’ll find many on Amazon for around £20. But is it worth the extra money? Yes, absolutely 100% yes.

 

Disclosure

These two lenses were gifted but I was in no way obligated to write this review and it definitely wasn’t required to write such a glowing review.

 

TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a full time blogger and has travelled around the world in search of affordable luxury travel experiences.Monica lives in Wales with her growing family and now also blogs about travelling with young children!

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