Of all the excellent iPhone lens systems on the market, only one clearly stands out as the best for action sports - Optrix PhotoProX
Described as the world’s first and only ultra-rugged case, PhotoProX comes with four interchangeable, optical grades lenses - macro, fisheye, telephoto 2X and flat lens perfect for underwater photography, in addition to a protective lens case, lens cloth, manual and case strap. Optrix also offers a wide variety of affordable accessories, including an iPhone camera remote, monopod, wrist float, rail mounting system, tripod and additional lenses.
Made from military grade, custom polycarbonate, the Optrix iPhone case is waterproof up to 33 feet and is rated IPX8 (protection against water immersion), the highest rating possible for protection of electronic equipment, such as smartphone cases and GPS watches. The case, which allows for easy swipe gestures not always seen in smartphone cases, also survived an in-house, 30-foot drop test, two-story drop test and a truck running over the case, suggesting it’s durable enough to withstand damage to an iPhone from accidental drops and certainly from the elements like dirt or mud. Other videos show the case in action, via motocross using an Optrix HD wide angle and VideoPro app, or river rafting, skydiving and stand up paddle boarding (SUP).
Optrix Case Protects iPhone for 82 Days
Optrix really got my attention earlier in the year after the release of a story (and video) about Australian kayaker David McGregor, who lost his iPhone 4S and Optrix case in the ocean off Australia's Sunshine Coast. McGregor thought he would never see his iPhone again, yet miraculously 82 days later, a local resident walking the beach found the phone sloshing along the Kawana seashore. After the beachcomber discovered it could still power on, he contacted McGregor and returned it to the rightful owner. Shortly afterwards, McGregor posted the video of his adventure, which also showed the iPhone still recording after it was lost, until the battery drained out. There isn’t better advertising than from someone who experienced his iPhone and protective case survive in the water for nearly three months!
In testing the waterproofing capabilities, my own sample case was weighted down and completely under water for one hour. After 60 minutes of submersion and periodic vigorous knocks against the container, it was removed and sure enough, it survived the test, with no water or moisture evident in the inner housing. Despite passing this test, it's highly recommended that consumers who do purchase the ProProX(and I think they should), submit the case to their own submersion test, prior to use with an iPhone.
Before testing out the case in water, the enclosed manual points out the importance of inserting the yellow O-ring before screwing on a lens, otherwise it won’t be waterproof. It also helps to "burp" the case to ensure better performance with the iPhone camera. The manual also emphasizes the importance of inspecting the O-ring for wear, ensuring it isn’t cracked, torn or dirty, in addition to attaching the lens properly onto the case.
So how do the four lenses measure up with the competition? Other lenses I’ve reviewed are similar in design and quality although I wish Optrix published more information about the aluminum casing and glass lenses. I say this because other companies use descriptions like “aircraft grade aluminum” and “precision ground glass”, which is absent from the PhotoProX information. Yet through a week of testing, all four lenses were capable of taking photos and videos with impressive clarity. The one noticeable flaw I experienced was the slight vignetting evident on images when using the telephoto 2X lens (see photo of the full Venetian Carnival mask). For me, it’s not a deal breaker, but important to point this out to interested consumers. On the other hand, I like that the lenses attach to the polycarbonate case, rather than clip or snap onto the iPhone like some of its competitors. Furthermore, because some other lens systems only come with a pouch, I'm concerned it will get lost, in addition to some damage while being stored.
PhotoProX clearly is the best iPhone case and lens system I've inspected for action sports. The case itself is a little bulky and the “everyday” inner casing won’t replace my preferred everyday iPhone case, which allows for credit cards and cash. And at $149.95, it’s a little pricey compared to other systems on the market, especially with the vignetting from the optical 2X zoom. But combined with a convenient lens case and case strap, along with optional accessories, the PhotoProX really does stand out above the rest. In fact, it also does quite well when pitted against the better known and more expensive GoPro Hero3 camera. Therefore, I'm awarding the Optrix PhotoProX with a five star rating. Not convinced? Check out the video and see for yourself!