Review: The new DiffCase Lens Mount: The iPhoneographer’s iPhone case
DiffCase for iPhone was designed with the iPhonegrapher in mind. The original Diff (still available) has two lids — the back lid is used for protection and can be flipped open as a case stand. The front lid, while protecting the iPhone’s glass front, also doubles as a sun shade, allowing you to better see the screen when shooting outdoors. The case itself has two standard threaded tripod mounts.
DiffCase now offers two new products, including the Diff Lens Mount Case. The new case offers improvements, new options and features that make this an outstanding choice for iPhoneographers to help capture better photos and video.
The core of the DiffCase is still there. When used with its lids, both Diff cases offer excellent protection from bumps and scratches. Both cases have a portrait and landscape tripod mount. There’s also a through-hole large enough for a convenient carabiner.
The cases add very little weight and size to the iPhone and the tripod mounting “palm bump” adds a few new ways to comfortably hold the device in your hand.
Both Diff cases offer a sun-shade front lid which helps to reduce screen glare when shooting outside in direct sunlight. It doesn’t completely reduce the glare, but the sun shade helps improve screen visibility a lot compared to a naked iPhone.
I did a quick test with the Diff in direct sunlight in mid-afternoon with the sun up and behind me. With the DiffCase, I was at least able to see the screen of my iPhone. Without any sun shade, there was too much glare and the iPhone screen was unusably washed out.
The new DiffCase Lens Mount differs from the original Diff in that it only has the front lid/sun shade. The back of the case is now one solid piece. The new case has different relief graphics with subtle camera-like features.
What’s Really Cool About the Diff
Where the new DiffCase Lens Mount sets itself apart from just about any other case available is its ability to quickly and easily mount a variety of the 15 mm wide, third party iPhone lenses, including the magnetic Gizmon-style wide angle/macro and fisheye lenses from Photojojo and iPro lens system from Schneider Optics. The new DiffCase eliminates the need for a clunky and unsightly magnetic ring to mount the lenses to your iPhone.
The lens mounts work great. They help make changing out your external lenses fast, accurate, and easy.
The case comes with two different bayonet mount adapters. Your existing Gizmon-style lenses simply push into the mount. From there, the lens simply twists on to the DiffCase with a quarter turn.
In addition to not having to use a magnetic ring or swap out cases, the DiffCase lens mounting system reduces or eliminates several problems I had with my Gizmon-style lenses. With the DiffCase mounting system, the external lens is instantly aligned with the iPhone camera lens, eliminating unexpected distortion and off-centered vignettes. Also, because the lenses are about a millimeter closer to the iPhone — a huge distance for such a small lens — lens vignettes when using the wide angle and macro lenses are just about eliminated when compared to the same lens mounted magnetically. With the DiffCase, there’s no chance the lens will be accidentally jostled out of alignment after it’s mounted.
You can leave the mount adapters on the lenses. The magnetic lens cap of the Gizmon-style lenses simply pops into place inside the adapter.
Because the DiffCase uses a common bayonet mount, it’s now possible to use all of your lenses without having to switch cases or lens mounts. Although I haven’t tested the Diff with iPro lenses, having one common lens mount allows iPhoneographers to use more lenses more easily than trying to juggle several different cases and mounting systems — a feature that SLR and DSLR owners take for granted.
I have a couple of minor complaints about the DiffCase, but these are not serious enough to keep me from recommending the Lens-Mount version. First, the case comes with two different mounting adapters, only one of which fits onto the magnetic external lenses; the other fits the iPro lenses. I have three external magnetic lenses. Fortunately, you can order additional lens adapter sets of two for $6.00. Be sure to order an extra set if you get a Diff. In the meantime, it’s not much trouble to swap out lenses with the one adapter.
The lid hinge pins have been improved in this new version of the Diff. They are a little larger, making them a little more robust. It’s also easier to insert them into the case. The new hinge pins seem to insert easier and stay in better. They’re still pretty fragile, though, and will break off fairly easily if you’re not careful. This is my only real complaint about the Diff. What’s very cool about the company is that if you break the hinge pins, Diff will ship out a new lid for free. Very cool.
Another very cool move by Diff protects DiffCase version 1.0 owners from obsolescence. If you already own a DiffCase KickStand, you can purchase just the Lens-Mount back at a significant discount.
The DiffCase Lens Mount is an outstanding case for iPhoneographers. It offers great protection for your device. The new lens mount system improves the ease and speed of mounting lenses and even improves the functionality of lenses you already own. For iPhone photographers and videographers, the DiffCase Lens-Mount is one of the most useful iPhone cases available.
The DiffCase KickStand and DiffCase Lens Mount are $34.95 each from Diff. Both are iPhone 4/4S only. There are a lot of additional accessories available.
Disclosure: I bought my first DiffCase KickStand. We were provided with a review unit of the DiffCase Lens Mount. =M=