Ready to Replace Your Main Camera With an iPhone With Multi-Lenses?

The pictures you can make on the latest smartphones are starting to give regular cameras a run for their money. Combine these advancements with a multi-lens case and you might just be able to leave your regular camera at home.

The team over at Unbox Therapy are back once again with another insightful video showcasing the Shiftcam for iPhone XS and XS Max. In a nutshell, the Shiftcam is a phone case which includes several lenses that can be slid over the top of the smartphone to increase its versatility in the camera department. While I'm sure you've seen this type of lens and case combo before, the slim form factor of it and the resulting images make this worthy of closer inspection.

Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy showcases the various features this travel case has to offer and tests the six different lenses which come with it. On the back of the case, users can take advantage of the 120-degree wide angle lens, 2x telephoto lens, 180-degree fisheye, and lastly, a 10 and 20x macro lens. On the front of the case, there is also a wide angle lens which makes the front-facing camera a little easier for group selfies, etc. What I like about this particular product is how easy you can move through the various lenses by sliding each individual lens into place. The fact everything is built into the case appeals to me, as I'm not a fan of carrying around or attaching extra bits of gear.

Hilsenteger has unboxed and reviewed his fair share of gear over the years and seems impressed by the build quality, price, and features of this case. He also makes an excellent point about how a case like this can help your phone images stand out in the crowd, as the focal lengths won't be the same as every other photographer using their iPhone. Personally, I think anything that can open up your options photographically is worth its weight in gold, especially when something like this won't break the bank or take up much extra space in your pocket or camera bag. Could this case and phone combination replace your regular camera? Maybe. With the extra versatility the Shiftcam case brings, you may find yourself using your main camera in some situations much less in the future.

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21 Comments

Motti Bembaron's picture

Is this a phone or a camera you can make calls with?

David Love's picture

This is getting stupid. Just have Canon, Nikon and Sony add social apps to their menus and a way to text your friends on the back of the camera and we can end this crap. I have an s10+ and I still don't see any pics from it that I would want to print and hang on a wall. They look fine on your phone, it's when you slap them on your comp and view actual size that you see the point and click hell that they are. The same point and click crap that companies are now making less of because of phones are taking their places.

Reminds me of when record companies stopped selling singles because they thought nobody cared about singles. Now every song is a single.

stevepellegrino's picture

Photos from smartphones are just fine on larger monitors and in print.

How many articles have we read that shows how photos from iPhones are being published in magazines and the cover of magazines? Several photojournalists have published books with photos taken exclusively with an iPhone. Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey has iPhone photos next to Leica photos in one of his recent books and you can't tell the difference.

These external lenses are a bad investment because you're always going to have to buy new ones as you change phones. But aside from that, they take the convenience away from using your phone when you have to carry these with you and take the time to change lenses. You can just carry a Sony RX100 that will fit in your pocket and get a better focal range and low light performance.

I have several “smart phone” prints (as large as 30x40) and hanging on walls — Mine and those of others. One was recently judged as runner up for “Color Print of the Year” at a local photo salon group. That photo wouldn’t exist without ‘the camera I had with me” (iPhone XS) and a Moment wide angle lens. One man”s hell…

External lenses as a “bad investment” are also subjective. Though they may not last “forever” — I “had’ to purchase a new set of Moment lenses when I went from iPhone SE to X — the “investment dividend’ paid off in images.

To each their own, but I fail to see the “stupid” in the article.

Rob Mitchell's picture

Tempting, does it have a hot shoe adaptor for my flash trigger?

imagei _'s picture

I'm all for advancing technology and improving capabilities of the devices most of us carry everywhere anyway but let's stop this nonsense about replacing dedicated cameras with phones. Not until their sensors get 40 times bigger, they get proper buttons and dials, viewfinders, tripod mounts... have we just built a dedicated camera? I'm sure someone could come up with a list of accessories that provide all of that but then what is the point of building a Lego Frankenstein camera instead of getting the real thing?

I think you've made a good argument against a use case that this was probably never intended for in the first place. Most readers on this site may look at something like this and instantly compare it to their current setups, which are largely based around professional or near-professional grade equipment. I can't imagine that's who this is being designed for and marketed to.

There's still an entire ecosystem of fully automatic point and shoot cameras out there with few buttons and poor ergonomics, and nobody in their right mind would suggest that those cameras are being designed to compete with a full frame DSLR. Same thing here. This looks like it could be a cool option for somebody who would otherwise be dropping a few hundred dollars on a low end PowerShot or Coolpix. Sometimes you've just gotta remember that there are people out there who use cameras for things other than professional photography.

Now, whether the article is relevant on a site like this could be a different topic altogether, but it's one that I'm not going to touch because who knows, maybe there are a bunch of bloggers out there who read this site too. But it would still be a different discussion than "this product is stupid, because not DSLR".

imagei _'s picture

I agree with what you say, I merely took issue with the premise that a phone could replace a camera. In itself this gizmo looks rather cool and if I had a compatible phone I might have gotten one of those myself.

It's like comparing a bicycle with a car because someone made a widget that makes a bike go twice as fast. Cool stuff but comparing them is just as silly as before :-)

"It's like comparing a bicycle with a car because someone made a widget that makes a bike go twice as fast. Cool stuff but comparing them is just as silly as before"

Depends on what your goal for using a car is. If the bike widget suddenly made a 2 mile commute more practical than using your old beater that has trouble starting, then comparing them isn't silly at all.

I think the problem with your objection is that "camera" doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. It's not just about the object, it's also about the use-case. Plus your conclusion assumes that all cameras are equal. Pretty sure I already pointed out that point-and-shoots aren't going to replace DSLRs either, but they're both "cameras". I think this product is only competing with one of these, and it's not the one you're thinking of.

imagei _'s picture

Hehe, I see I should have been more precise when stating my objections :-) Of course there are overlapping use cases and, indeed, a bike (even a regular one) may be a superior choice to a car given the right circumstances, much like a smartphone may be a superior choice compared to an advanced dedicated camera but, despite the overlap, neither is going to replace the other. And I mean it both ways. It's like asking whether a large, dedicated camera could replace your smartphone if you could put a SIM card in it and make calls. No, never. It could work in a pinch for a limited set of circumstances but would never replace a proper phone. Different purposes.

To be more precise then, I took issue with the premise that a phone could replace an advanced dedicated camera [ an article mentioning 'Your Main Camera' while being published on a photography enthusiast website seem to imply exactly that ] for all its intended use cases.

The article doesn't ask a question whether we could use a phone camera for a particular purpose, it asks a general question if a phone can replace an advanced dedicated camera for all its indended use cases and this makes it nonsensical. Who knows, maybe in a few decades it would make sense but in 2019 nobody can answer 'yes' therefore titles like this are likely to be seen as sensational clickbait not unlike the lowest of tabloids.

It would be so nice and refreshing if we stopped this constant antagonising and instead had articles about how a fantastic gizmo has been introduced to the market and how it's going to be useful in all sorts of circumstances.

Edit: ...or at least make the titles less sensational. What if this article had a title of 'Ready to Replace Your Pocketable Point-and-Shoot Camera With an iPhone With Multi-Lenses?'. Far more sensible.

Well, they did. It's called an Electric Bike :)

imagei _'s picture

Exactly. And yet we don't see people asking whether electric bikes (or even fully-grown motorbikes) are going to make cars obsolete, do we? :-)

So what happens when the I Phone 11 comes out with a different form factor? Even the tiniest change would make this or any other camera lens case useless.

Joshua Harrison's picture

I actually have been using this exact product for a couple weeks. And I have been enjoying using it. It won’t replace my actual camera when it comes down to it. But for day to day stuff, and just having fun. It works great.

Gabriel SAP's picture

Man, I can't wait.

C Fisher's picture

That's pretty cool. I have a ton of phone lenses, not built into cases though. Aukey makes really nice clip on ones.

A phone could replace a camera for certain areas, but not everything. I have the macro lens with the highest magnification I could find that wasn't a microscope, and it still can't compare to a DSLR macro lens. On the other hand, one thing not in most cameras is the ability to focus stack with apps right in the device.

Gabriel SAP's picture

But who would know phones would be able to simulate depth of fiedl as they do now? Computational photography is the future. I'm sure that in less than 10 years (maybe five?) phones and compact cameras will do it SO well the average Joe would not be able to tell the difference.

C Fisher's picture

If somebody can step up to Huawei levels without the perceived Chinese spying it'll be the beginning of the end. What's that new Huawei got, 48mp or something crazy? Amazing how much they can slam into a 1/4" thick brick.

Christos Dikos's picture

If a phone case is to protect your phone in case you drop it; what's going to protect the lenses on the phone case?

Ignacio Balbuena's picture

I stop watching the videos of that guy after I knew that he recieve payments to talk trash about other companies product. Google vs apple I think was one of the demostrated cases. Anyway I am out of here