Sandmarc iPhone Cloud Diffusion Filters review

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REVIEW – I have been a professional photographer as a side gig for over 15 years. All my paid photography has been for high school marching bands and drum corps.  I usually have my 300mm 2.8 lens with my 1.4 extender mounted to a professional DSLR. I am on the sidelines taking action shots of each band and color guard member as they perform their competition shows.   This past week I spent four days shooting 176 bands and over 20k pictures at the Alamodome here in San Antonio.  Needless to say, artsy-type photographs are not my forte.  However, I was intrigued when I saw these cloud filters from Sandmarc that were made for the iPhone come up for review.  I do not desire to lug my full pro-sized body with a 24-70mm lens when hiking or seeing the Christmas lights around town.  I thought these filters might add more diversity to the iPhone camera and let me take some creative pictures.  Let’s see how they worked out.

What is it?

The Sandmarc Cloud Filters are filters made specifically to work with the iPhone.  They are mounted to the camera using a clamp system.  They make light more diffused for a dreamy look in photographs.

What’s in the box?

  • Two filter pouches
  • 1/4 Diffusion Filter
  • 1/8 Diffusion Filter
  • Patented phone clip-on mount

Hardware specs

  • Glass – Multi-coated
  • Frame – Aluminum
  • Weight- 17 g (0.6 oz)
  • Inner Diameter – 40.6 mm
  • Outer Diameter – 58 mm

Setup

The setup of the Sandmarc iPhone Cloud Diffusion Filters was pretty simple.  You pick the amount of diffusion you want, either 1/4 or 1/8, and screw the filter onto the clamp as pictured below.  The clamp handles are made of some rubber-coated plastic.  The ring that the filter screws onto is made of metal.  I will assume it is aluminum, just like the filters themselves.  The ring has nice solid metal threads, and the filter screws on easily.

The filters work best on the phone with no case.  Most cases for the iPhone have a ridge around the lenses that makes the lenses sit deeper within the case to protect them, and that ridge gets in the way of letting the filter sit level.  Sandmarc does make special cases that you can buy with the cloud diffusion filters that lets you screw the filter directly onto the case.  I only received the clamp.  The next picture shows you the filter mounted onto the phone.

Performance

The Sandmarc iPhone Cloud Diffusion Filters work best once the sun has gone down and you have lights in your picture.  Yes, we do already have our Christmas lights up!

This is the picture of the side of our house with no filters.

Next, I took a picture with the 1/8 diffusion filter.  Notice the foggy haze that appears around the lights.   Notice the second row of ‘ghost lights’ showing below the roof lights.  At first, I thought I did not have the filter mounted correctly, and I tried moving the filter around to see if I could get rid of those extra lights.  I could not make them go away.  I had the clamp on top of the phone and on the side of the phone, and it made no difference.

This is a picture with the 1/4 diffuser.  I did a better job this time of positioning the filter.  You can see there is not quite as much diffusion as the 1/8th filter.

Next, I took a picture of one of the landscape lights without any filter.

This was taken with the 1/8 diffuser.

This one was taken with the 1/4 diffuser.  Close-up pictures don’t work well for these filters’ diffusing features.  You can see some difference, but it is not as noticeable as the lights in the distance.

I finally took another picture of some Christmas lights from a different angle without a filter.  I now notice the one crooked light.  I need to figure out if I should risk my life to get a ladder up that 20 feet (we have a really high slab) and appease my OCD or just let it go!

Here is the 1/8 filter.  There is quite a bit of cloud diffusion going on.

Here is the 1/4 filter, and I think it looks great.

What I like

  • These are well-made filters.  I like that they are made of aluminum.
  • Mounting them to the clamp is easy, and I never found myself touching the filter’s glass.
  • Each filter came with its own protective and well-made pouch.

What I’d change

  • I wish the filters were a bit bigger so that the glass covered the entire area of the three lenses.

Final thoughts

I had a fun time playing with the Sandmarc iPhone Cloud Diffusion Filters.  I will definitely take them with me when we go down to the Riverwalk to see the Christmas lights this year.  Sandmarc makes some top-notch photography equipment for phones.  I do want to check out some of their specialty lenses for the iPhone.

Price: $99.99 as reviewed or $129.99 with pro case and step-up ring, including the clamp
Where to buy: store Sandmarc
Source: The sample of this product was provided by Sandmarc.

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