REVIEWED: Swarovski Optik PA-i5 adapter for iPhone 5/5s

Take photos through a pair of binoculars with your phone, but keep hold of your phone while you snap

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Here’s a a smart space-saving idea from Swarovski Optik that does away with the need for expensive and bulky camera kit when on wildlife or safari trips. Put your phone in an aluminium case, fix it to one of the lenses of a pair of binoculars, and take photos from afar. What could go wrong?

Safety warning

It’s a great concept but the alarm bells ring the moment the box is opened; there’s a whopping great wrist-strap lanyard that attaches to the PA-i5 adapter case and eye-piece ring. It plays a vital role.

Two-piece adaptor

The adaptor is made from two bits of kit. The first is an aluminium case that has to be unclipped at the side and slide around an iPhone 5/5s. More of a bumper than a case, there’s some structure around the iSight camera on the rear that allows for an adaptor ring to be screwed-in.

Swarovski Optik binoculars only

That ring is specific to various makes of Swarovski Optik binoculars only; we tried it out with a pair of CL Series 10×30 binoculars, costing a whipping £830. Great though they may be, that doesn’t exactly give this nifty idea wide appeal.

Lacks stability

As well as that ring slotting over the eye-piece in a rudimentary and far from stable fashion, the results are also rather average. It’s easy to focus, largely using the binocular’s focus wheel, though the phone’s auto-focus also plays a part and takes-over once the manual setting is close. The result is initially a circular photo, and although you can remove this by zooming-in slightly, so there’s no advantage to the iPhone being used in portrait or landscape orientation. In fact, the latter position is downright dangerous.

Problematic execution

Since no animal lover is without a decent pair of binoculars, the PA-i5 adapter ring from Swarovski Optik allows an iPhone 5/5s’s camera to be fixed over one eye-piece of some binoculars is a truly great idea. However, the execution is problematic. While the results are good enough for sharing on social media, the PA-i5 just doesn’t provide a secure enough grip to an iPhone. Being able to leave that bulky D-SLR camera at home would be great, but since the PA-i5 only works with pricey Swarovski Optik binoculars, there’s no cost saving either.

Price as reviewed: £113

Buy the Swarovski Optik PA-i5 adapter for iPhone 5/5s