There’s an old adage amongst photographers: The best camera is the one that you have with you. Considering the fact that most of us now carry fairly powerful digital cameras with us in the form of a smartphone, that philosophy couldn’t be more true. But as good as the cameras in our phones have gotten over the past few years, they still lack in a few key features that truly allow them to compete with dedicated point and shoot models. But a company called SANDMARC is looking to change that by introducing a set of add-on filters that promise to improve our photos dramatically.
SANDMARC has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to introduce two distinct sets of polarizing filters that it says will improve the quality of photos shot with an iPhone – or presumably any other smartphone for that matter. The kits come with a special clip that the can be attached to a smartphone, with the filter itself resting directly over the phone’s existing camera lens. When an image is taken using a camera app, the specific filter is automatically added to the photo, often with some fairly impressive results.
The filters are currently available in two varieties – “Drama” and “Scape.” The Drama kit ships with a single filter that is designed to make colors more rich and vibrant while suppressing glare and managing reflections. That same filter can also help balance exposure when shooting in bright sunlight too, which can often over power the image and washout the colors. Meanwhile, the Scape filters are also designed to reduce glare and over exposure in sunlight, while also providing the ability to add motion blur to action shots or even flowing water. That kit comes with three different neutral density filters, each of which offers a different level of polarization.
Using these filters is incredibly easy. You simply select the one you’d like to apply to your images, twist it into place on the included clip, and attach it to the phone. Each of the filters also supports stacking, so more than one can be used at any given time. Once in place, you just shoot photos as you normally would, with the effects of the filter being automatically applied to the images. And if for some reason you don’t like the results, you can simply remove the clip to return the phone to its default state.
SANDMARC says that both kits are compatible with all iPhone 6 and 7 models, as well as the 5c, but it should work with most other types of smartphones as well. The filter clip snaps into place along the outer edge of the phone, and will likely cover the lenses of devices from manufacturers other than Apple, provided the camera isn’t situated in the center of the device.
Having put these filters to the test in the field, it is true that you can see a noticeable difference in image quality. Our iPhone images required less editing when using these kits, with the Drama filter earning especially high marks for clarity and color reproduction The Scape filters also proved to be particularly useful, especially in helping to reduce the negative effects of overly bright sunlight.
Of course, there are other companies that offer add-on kits for smartphones that promise to improve the users photography, most notably Olloclip and Moment. But those products actually serve as replacement lenses that attach to the phone to provide telephoto, fisheye, or macro options rather than just serving as filters. As a result, those kits tend to be much pricier than what SANDMARC is offering, and in most cases they don’t filter light to improve contrast and color in any way. Having used those products in the past, they are indeed excellent additions to the mobile photographer’s bag of tricks, but they also serve a very different purpose.
Both of SANDMARC’s filter kits are expected to go on sale in September with the Drama option priced at $49 and the Scape at $79. Both are available for preorder via the Kickstarter campaign for $29 and $59 respectively however. Find out more here.