Freshly Squeezed Reviews: Sandmarc Hits The Mark

PRODUCT: Sandmarc Lenses

DEVELOPER: Sandmarc

REQUIREMENTS: iPhone 7 through iPhone 11 Pro Max

TEST RIG: Test Rig: Late 2015 4K 21” iMac, OS X 10.15.6, 16GB RAM, 1 TB Samsung T5 SSD (Boot Drive)


I have the itch to create but my finances are strapped. But I’m still going to try and produce a quality project on a shoestring project.

I’m fascinated with the idea of iPhone filmmaking. As I have a degree in film/video/audio (which has come in handy during the great toilet paper shortage of 2020), I was keen to give it a go.

Every smartphone production I have seen was created on a flagship iPhone. I want to see if I can produce a short film of technical quality using a lower priced iPhone that comes with a single lens. So, I traded in my 8 Plus for a brand new SE 2020. It has the housing of a single lens iPhone 8 but the guts of an iPhone 11. Inexpensive and future proof is my thinking.

I performed diligent research. I read many articles, checked out various manufacturers, and watched hours of YouTube comparison reviews to help me assemble my kit.

I decided on my camera app (FiLMiC), already have a name brand gimbal (OSMO 2 – no longer in production), I’ll borrow some LED lighting and audio equipment, plus buy some bounce boards (inexpensive white foam core).

Most importantly was my choice of lenses and filters. The more videos I watched on my 4K iMac, I settled on Sandmarc.

We, at SANDMARC®, design premium photography products for iPhone, GoPro, DJI & DSLR cameras….

We strive to positivly impact our community by helping our customers do what they do best: CREATE.

With the final piece of the puzzle in place it was time to see if I could pull this off. (As the SE 2020 is the exact same form factor as the iPhone 8/7, the lenses, filters and cases work with the SE 2020 as well.)

THE JUICE

With the Sandmarc system you have two options as how to mount your lenses; use the provided case or clip. (I found I was able to use the clip on my regular case but had to pay attention that it wouldn’t slide off. To be fair, the clip is meant to be used on your phone without a case. My bad.)

Each lens you buy comes with its own case and clip. Even if you purchase four lenses as a bundle, you’ll get four cases and clips. This could be a good or bad thing depending on your point of view.

Each lens comes in its own felt drawstring pouch for protection. This allows you to carry your lenses without fear of scratching them.

THE PULP

You could view the included accessories as more kit to carry around. But conversely, you permanently thread each lens one time to its own case, reducing your chance of damaging the threads. So all you have to do is relatively quickly change the case to the lens you wish to use and its already mounted. You can do the same with the clips. This reduces the possibility of stripping the threads on your lens by repeatedly changing the cases or clips. The choice is yours.

As far as carrying all of your kit, you can make this all easier on yourself as they have a carrier you can purchase separately.

I found the threaded clip to be solid and stable. They provide a strong grip and permit you to swap lenses quicker than switching cases. You could shake the lens off I would think but you would have to shake the phone extremely hard or, if filming a tracking shot, hit a large bump solidly. (You could clip the lens to your everyday case but it’s recommended that you attach it to your phone sans case, as there’s no telling how solidly it will grip your case.)

I was hoping that I could clip a lens over my 720p ‘potato camera’ on my iMac (or your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air). But after repeated tests, this isn’t practical. Forget the optics, positioning the lens over the computer’s lens alone requires time and patience.

The lenses clarity, crispness, and color reproduction is excellent. All lenses come with a lens cap for both the business end and the threaded end. The one negative thing that I have to say about the kit is their iPhone cases. They’re made of a rigid but thin plastic and have very little grip. I’ll be curious (as well as crossing all my digits) to see how this works with my gimbal.

The Macro lens comes with what looks like the collar the vet places on a dog’s neck so it can’t nibble on its stitches. In reality (I’ve visited reality once or twice), you place it over your Macro lens and bring your camera with the mounted ring as close to your subject as the it will allow, ensuring that you’re at optimal focal distance.

THE RIND

Nothing to speak of.

SUMMARY

At their store, there are different bundles to choose from, as well as accessories for iPhones, GoPros, and DSLR & mirrorless cameras.

Pricing is competitive with other brand name lenses.

I suggest that you do as much research as possible because your decision will definitely be subjective. But I can say that you will not be disappointed in the quality of Sandmarc’s lenses. I know I’m not.

POSTSCRIPT: After assembling my kit, writing my script, and choosing actors and crew, we were hit with the COVID thingee. I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of a way to still film it while maintainig safe distancing and all. It would require more shots but I could make it work. And of course, cast and crew would have to be agreeable.

In the meantime, I’ve used the lenses on still photography. And I’m happy to report that I am greatly satisfied with the results. I have recently purchased one of their polarizing filters. Now to experiment with that.

©2020 Frank Petrie