UPDATED: Now with revised shipping dates and correct availability dates. =M=

I love shopping the Photojojo store. Just about everything in there is designed to make camera geeks go “Want!”. This week, my latest want is their new 8x Telephoto Lens. Announced back in February, it finally ships this Friday, April 29, 2011 (iPhone 3G/3GS version ships a little later), but they are accepting pre-orders for the lens now. UPDATE: This little beast has actually been available from Photojojo since February. It’s on backorder and now both styles won’t be shipping until Thursday, May 5th. =M=

The new lens is an 8x fixed telephoto lens — no zoom capabilities. The lens has an impressive F1.1 aperture rating — better than the iPhone’s F2.8 aperture. At 8X, it’s the 35mm equivalent of a 280mm lens. It has a manual focus with a focal length from 3m – infinity. It weighs about 45 grams — less than half the weight of the iPhone itself. It’s small and light enough to slip into your pocket when not in use.

The lens threads into an included black plastic iPhone case. The kit also comes with an iPhone clip, a mini-tripod to help stabilize the rig and a cleaning cloth. The phone clip also has a standard 1/4″ thread mount for use on any standard tripod.

The whole thing — lens, mounting clip, tripod and cleaning cloth — sells for only $35 plus shipping on Photojojo.

A few things about the lens. According to supplied sample shots, it’ll get you in closer and take visibly clearer pictures than the iPhone’s digital zoom. But it looks like the lens has some chromatic aberrations and vignetting at the edges of the frame. In some other tests I’ve seen with this lens, I noticed it shifts colors a little bit when using it.

If this lens looks familiar, it’s a lot like the same 8X telephoto lens being branded and sold by Rollei for about $15 more. The specs, the housing, even the lens ring are identical. That extra $15 will get you a “Rollei” silk-screened on the lens and a 2 year warranty, though. No absolute street date yet on the Rollei lens, but it should be soon.

Nothing beats actually getting in as close as possible to your subject. When that’s not possible, a good optical zoom or telephoto lens is a better choice than using a digital zoom to get in close. This lens has a lot of uses — concerts, sporting events, nature photography. It’s even been suggested as a lightweight and easily portable lens for paparazzi.

I’ve already pre-ordered mine from Photojojo.

Order the 8X Telephoto Lens for iPhone 4 or iPhone 3G/3GS from Photojojo.com