I Mounted An SLR Lens to My iPhone, And This Is What My First Few Photos Look Like

A company called Turtleback sells a gizmo called a SLR Jacket – an iPhone case that allows you to mount a manual, fancy-pants camera lens to your iPhone.

I just got one today. It looks like this:

Turtleback SLR

I used to have Nikon DSLR, but it was stolen a couple years ago.

I never replaced it because these days the only point of taking a photo is to put it on Facebook, Instagram, or email it to my mum. To do any of those things with a DSLR requires way too many steps for me. So the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5 became my cameras of choice. They were good enough, and iOS makes photos very shareable.

But still: I missed being able to play with depth of field and lighting the way you can with SLR lens.

What I really want is a DSLR with iOS. And that’s kind of what you get with the Turtleback SLR Jacket. 

Kind of. 

Here are some early pros and cons.


  • The photos you can take with it really are much better than standard iPhone photos.
  • It’s a joy to be able to take a great photo and instantly upload to Instagram or email it.
  • It’s cheaper than buying an actual DSLR.


  • The SLR Jacket is just a metal frame and a lens mount. There is no data connection between the lens and iPhone. That means the entire photo-taking process is manual. You have to set the aperture and focus the shot yourself. It’s an adjustment from the totally automatic process I’m used to on my iPhone and the assisted process I had on my DSLR.
  • The photo-quality is not DSLR quality.
  • The jacket is bulky enough that you won’t want to leave it on your iPhone all the time, so you can’t taken photos with your SLR lens in the spur of the moment. You have to plan. 
  • You have to use Turtleback’s photo-taking app, otherwise the images come in upside down.

Overall: Are more cons then pros? Yes. Would I rather have a real, iOS- or Android-powered DSLR? Yes.
But you can’t underestimate how cool it is to be able to take high-quality photos and share them immediately. Sharing photos is the only reason I take them anymore.   With that in mind, want to see some test photos?   (NOTE: I took the first few when I didn’t have the mount aligned correctly.)

Steve Kovach takes a picture of me, taking a picture of him. I'm using a fixed 50mm lens.

Alyson Shontell is perplexed by my new gizmo

Photographer Dan Goodman is suuuuuper jealous


Kevin took this one of me

I took a photo of Jay Yarow and put this Instagram filter on it

One problem is that you have to use a manual lens, so it's hard to focus fast

Kevin Smith was VERY sceptical of my new gadget, but then I took this awesome photo of him

Jason Merriman is epic

The lens I bought, a fixed 50mm, is better for portraits than landscapes. But this still looks better than an iPhone photo

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