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Radical new 'free-form' mobile lens is the sharpest iPhone lens yet

Lens attachments for mobile phones are everywhere these days, and it seems we can barely make it a week without a new model or whole new company showing up. Despite the high rate of proliferation, however, a new mobile lens on Kickstarter is taking an entirely new approach. It’s called Oowa, and it works like no other lens before.

Oowa claims to be the highest-quality mobile lens ever developed, offering unparalleled sharpness across the frame, zero added chromatic aberration or vignetting, and minimal distortion. Such an achievement is no easy task, and to accomplish it, Oowa lenses use an entirely new design known as free-form optics.

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Traditional camera lenses project a circle of light that is equal in both horizontal and vertical axes, generally with a sweet spot in the middle that lessens in brightness and sharpness toward the edges. Image sensors, including those in smartphones, are rectangular, however, meaning the horizontal edges of the sensor may not fall within the sweet spot of a lens. Oowa uses rotationally asymmetrical lenses to focus light into a more oblong shape, maximizing the sweet spot for a horizontal image sensor. Based on sample images on the company’s website, the results from this radical design are quite good, although, as with any new lens attachment, it can’t really be judged until it’s out in the real world.

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At this time, Oowa has two lenses available through its Kickstarter campaign: a 15mm wide angle and a 2.5x telephoto. The lenses, which attach via a custom phone case, are currently only compatible with iPhone 6-series phones, but the company has put up a survey to handle requests for support for other devices, including Android phones.

Related: 13 strange, helpful Android/iPhone camera accessories

With 28 days to go in the campaign, Oowa has already raised over $17,000 of its $50,000 goal. Pledges start as low as $5, and $65 is the entry point to receive either the wide angle or telephoto lens, although that particular offer expires on June 12. Interested backers can learn more about the project on on Kickstarter or Oowa’s homepage.