Pan's Snap Filter3.0 / 5
Pan's Snap Filter for the iPhone 14 Pro Max brings high-quality physical filters to the camera easily through MagSafe — with one big caveat.
MagSafe has been around since the iPhone 12 was released in 2020, but it has been limited in scope to stands, chargers, and batteries until recently. The newest MagSafe accessory category is photography-related accessories.
Pan's Scheme has developed a mechanism for applying physical camera filters to an iPhone's camera system using a MagSafe mount. This filter system uses the iPhone's rear magnets to align a small mounting clip over the camera bump.
This is an excellent use of MagSafe, but it also presents some problems. The filter attachment is sized to fit each iPhone model exactly, so don't expect to carry this accessory to future iPhone models.
Pan's Snap Filter design and features
The Snap Filter base is a magnetic mount that attaches directly to the iPhone via MagSafe magnets. Filters slide in and click into a secure clasp — a big step up over screw-in lenses or filters.
Each magnetic base is built to fit specific iPhone sizes, so the iPhone 14 Pro Max base won't fit the iPhone 14. Also, the base won't work with some case types, especially bulky ones.
There are four types of filters and ten total filters available.
- Neutral Density (ND) filters: -2, -4,-6, and -8 exposure stops
- Black Mist filter
- Cross-star filter
- Blue Streak filter horizontal/vertical
- Gold Streak filter horizontal/vertical
There is also a simple carrying case for the Pan's Snap filter, though it is a bit minimalistic. The spots don't have any labels, though a cutout shows the filter label once it is inserted.
Users can own up to ten filters, but the case can only hold eight — nine if you include one already loaded into the base. The front of the case has a useful magnet for sticking the magnetic base to when it isn't in use.
Using Pan's Snap Filter system
Each filter has a small icon in the bottom right corner to tell you what it does. There are no other indications of what each filter is, and the icons aren't color-coded, but a glance through the filter will tell you if it is the blue or gold one.
Getting the filter out of the case can be somewhat cumbersome. Then there's the issue of fingerprints.
We recommend carrying a microfiber cloth in the case to wipe off a filter after inadvertently smudging it while getting it in and out of the case.
The magnetic base's connection to the iPhone feels secure and sturdy. You'd easily be able to keep the base on during a long shoot, though we're not sure it is advisable to place the iPhone in your pocket with the mount attached — pocket lint will surely find its way into the filter slot.
This filter system feels like a very deliberate tool. We've not felt the urge to bring it on every outing, though it has been great for photo-focused trips.
The use of MagSafe does introduce some complications, however. We've tested and taken a liking to ShifCam's SnapGrip MagSafe system, which can't be used in tandem with the Pan's filter base.
This isn't a knock against Pan or ShiftCam. Every company shouldn't be expected to be universally compatible with every device.
It does mean when we plan on using Pan's Snap Filter system, we will need a classic clamp attachment for our iPhone to place it on a tripod. We hope that future models have outward-facing magnets for greater device compatibility.
Filter quality and usefulness
We've provided a few examples to show how the filters work. We're quite happy with the results, though we found some of the effects rather muted in certain lighting.
The danger of using a filter in any photographic enterprise, be it a multi-thousand dollar rig or an iPhone, is that it introduces potential for artifacts, blurring, dimming, and more. We didn't see a drastic reduction in camera performance over the naked iPhone camera, but the filter's negative impact is there.
However, it is notable that the negative effect was more or less negligible. Pan's Snap filters appear to be made from a high-quality glass without imperfections or drastic reductions in light capture.
The vertical streak filters shown in the image above add a clear blue or gold tint to the image. Direct light sources will create a streak like the one from the sun.
Filters of any kind will produce a highly-opinionated image. It will be up to each user to determine if they prefer the filter and want to use it.
We like the effect of the gold and blue streak filters the most. They add an element of cinematography to each photo or video, though direct light can cause some crazy effects in some light.
The cross-star filter is interesting as it dramatizes light sources like flashlights or exposed bulbs in an almost dreamlike way. The image of the creek water reflecting sunlight above looks like something from a strange '90s daytime soap opera.
The Black Mist filter felt the most inconsequential of all of the filters. The effect was so soft in our tests that there isn't a good example photo in this review.
The ND filters provide additional control over exposure in bright settings. It helps recover sky detail in direct sunlight or helps prevent excessive glare from ruining a shot.
We tried the ND -8 filter with the camera pointed directly at the sun. It revealed a lot more sky detail and warmth in the image than iPhone's automatic exposure compensation.
MagSafe accessories are simple yet complicated
Simply, we love the Pan's Snap Filter system for iPhone 14 Pro Max. Any accessory manufacturer that can take advantage of an existing system and make something new and useful from it should be praised.
There are some notable problems with this filter system that is external to the product itself. Users purchasing Pan's Snap Filters should know that they will likely only work on their current device.
This won't be an issue for anyone who knows they won't update to the iPhone 15 later in the fall, but anyone on the fence may need to consider the pros and cons. This device relies on the current camera bump and iPhone design and won't work with the ever-increasing camera bump size.
Pan's Scheme also doesn't sell just the iPhone base separately. So, iPhone 15 buyers will have to wait for the new base to arrive next year, then buy an entire filter bundle again.
Overall, the filters performed their assigned roles without a negative impact on the photos. Users looking for high-quality physical camera filters for iPhone should get Pen's Snap Filter system — while keeping the caveats in mind.
Pan's Snap Filter Pros
- Multiple quality filters that don't degrade image quality
- Easy system for getting filters in and out on the fly
- Handy transport case that holds 8 filters and the magnetic base
Pan's Snap Filter Cons
- Storage case only holds 8 filters, doesn't make finding exact filters easy
- Easy to smudge filters with fingerprints when getting filters in and out of magnetic base or holding case
- Magnetic base is built for specific iPhone models — not future proof
- iPhone case must be thin, MagSafe compatible, and have limited camera-bump lip to work with magnetic base
Rating: 3 out of 5
Pan's Snap Filter is an excellent product that makes using physical filters simple.
That being said, despite not being Pan's Scheme's fault, iPhone design changes year-over-year make this a single-iPhone purchase — you'll need a new version with each iPhone camera bump change.
Where to buy Pan's Snap Filter
You can also pick up the iPhone 14 Pro Max version at Amazon.com and Pergear. Readers can save 10% on either verision with promo code 9SXXEV3CSAVC when ordering at Pergear.com.