After reading a glowing review you order a set of smart phone lenses and you are billed over $100. You get socked with an additional $85 shipping charge (the ad said shipping was free). Then you find out you could have bought the same lenses for less than $10. To add insult to injury you discover the great review was from a fake review site and the quality of the lenses is disappointing. You’ve been ripped off.
This ad has trouble written all over it, for all kinds of reasons. Caveat emptor!
On Facebook I kept seeing these absurd ads for a “tiny smart phone device” that claims to turn any phone into an expensive DLSR. “I can take the same quality pictures from my phone as I would have with my $5,000 DSLR camera.” No experienced photographer would take this kind of claim seriously. You shouldn’t either.
The ads are for a LUX HD450 three lens set designed to be used with smart phones. the lenses come with a simple clip to hold them on the phone. The ads on Facebook look pretty much the same and are worded pretty much the same except for using several different photos that seem to have nothing to do with the lenses they are selling. The photo in the ad above shows a telephoto lens that isn’t even part of the LUX three lens set.
Here’s another ridiculous claim, that these lenses will “Increase Picture Quality by 700!” Seriously? Who measured it and how?
If it sounds too good to be true . . .
No Reliable Reviews
This all started when I was looking at reviews for good quality auxiliary smart phone lenses.
So I went looking for reviews for the LUX HS450 three lens set. None of the smart phone lens reviews I read from responsible sources says anything at all about about the LUX HD450. The articles I read were about the good choices in smart phone lenses. The LUX HD450 didn’t make any responsible reviewer’s list. That should tell you something.
Of course I found lots of bogus reviews for the LUX HD450. More about that later.
No Real Company Location
The company address is nothing more than a mail box in California. Red flag. There is no real brick and mortar business. A photo on this page shows the company address is a mail box store in a strip mall.
Hmmmm. The “lead technologist” in Stuttgart for the lenses (ah, the implied illusion of German engineering. So why does the same guy have three different names in three different ads for three different products? And he is also a builder (with yet another name) for another company in a fourth ad. Busy guy. And if that is not enough, he also looks exactly like a professional model. The story behind this face is here.
The Changing Magazine Cover
This is the cover of the April 2016 issue of Digital SLR Photography as it appears in a LUX HD450 article/ad. Note the bold LUX HD450 graphic.
Digital SLR Magazine Facebook post, March 28, 2016.
Questionable Review Sites
There are several sites with questionable reviews for the LUX lens kit that are really just advertisements with links back to the sale of the lenses.
The reviews/articles are so much alike (even using some of the same photos) that it seems obvious that the company paid to place the reviews/articles at these sites.
Real reviewers from responsible journals write their own articles and take their own photos to test the equipment they write about. And they post real photos that were taken with the equipment they are reviewing.
One dead giveaway of a bogus review site is a site that reviews only one product or products that are all from the same company.
Another giveaway is a review from a site that has no qualifications to review the product in question. Do you really want to get your photography advice from a Garcinia Cambogia web site?
It does not instill confidence if the review is poorly written with bad grammar.
You might already be aware that there are some companies that go so far as to create fake review sites with glowing reviews of their own products, complete with sales links. In fact, several companies (possibly related) can get together to fill up each others fake review sites.
Unhappy Customers and Outrageous Charges
And then there are the online complaints, like the one above from Eugene Spearman who was charged $85 for shipping and handling and was billed for more items than he ordered.
Or the person who wrote in and complained: “I just purchased this product but found I was billed for five of the items when I know I purchased only one. In addition, I was charged $72 for a warranty, that they called an upgrade.”
Photos That Have Nothing To Do With The Product
And what about the photos that accompany the ads? I traced several of the photos in the ads to their original sources. They were not taken with the LUX HD450 lenses and they have nothing to do with the LUX lenses.
Take a look at the fisheye photo on the right from this screen capture. This happens to be a one-of-a-kind, well known image by Randy Scott Slavin.
Here’s the whole, uncropped photo from his web site. This particular angle, coverage, and viewpoint can’t be created with a single capture using a fish eye lens.
Slavin takes up to a hundred individual photos and spends hours and hours of time using special computer software to combine the photos into a single image like this one.
Here is an article from the Daily Mail about the same image. It is clear that this image was not created using a LUX HD450 lens. And if you look carefully, the article/ad doesn’t actually claim any of the photos were taken with a LUX lens. It is just written to give you that impression.
Now lets look at the middle photo in this screen capture from the LUX HD450 article/ad. This beautiful and professionally produced engagement image was create by Lin & Jirsa Photography. To fully appreciate this image, look at the large, uncropped version of the photo at this site.
In this screen capture from the article 3 Must Have Engagement Photography Lenses, Lin & Jirsa tell us this image was created with a 24-70mm lens for a DSLR. Elsewhere in the article you learn this is a Canon f/2.8 L series professional lens. It is ironic that the LUX HD450 article/ad tells you you can get rid of your professional DSLR and then they use a photo taken with first class professional equipment.
This is another example. Billy Carpio discovered his photo of Times Square (above) was being used without his permission. The photo was taken with a Sony A550 camera and a Vivitar 7mm fisheye lens.
This link is to the gallery where he posted his photo February 22, 2012.
This is a screen capture of Billy Carpio’s doctored photo at the end of a LUX HD450 article/ad. The name “Amber Jordan” was put on the photo but it is clearly Billy’s image. You can tell from a careful examination of the ever changing Times Square digital signs, the location of the standing vehicles, the unique trailing light patterns of the moving vehicles and the precise shape and location of the clouds. Even if “Amber Jordan” was standing right next to Bill Carpio when he took the photo and she clicked her shutter at the exact same moment as Billy, the perspective of the two photos and the precise alignment of the overhead streetlamp with the clouds would be different.
This image is from the LUX article/ad at the Garcinia Cambogia site referenced above. It will not surprise you to learn that this image was not taken with a LUX HD450 lens.
This is the original image by professional photographer Christian Vinces (you can see more of his beautiful work at his web site). Vinces was at Tambopata National Reserve in Peru which is part of the Amazon River basin. He created this image in October 2013 using first class professional equipment, a Canon 5D Mark III DSLR and a Canon 17-40mm f/4 L series lens. Christian told me he sometimes takes two or three images and stitches them together to get a wider field of view.
His copyrighted images are available at industry standard rates through Shutterstock, a stock photo agency.
Here’s a legitimate use of his image in an Amazon River Cruise ad.
I could give you more examples but you get the idea. LUX HD450 uses professional images taken by professional photographers using professional DSLR equipment and writes ads designed to give to give the impression (without actually saying so) that the photos were taken with a LUX HD450 lens on a smart phone. Would you call this false advertising?
Paying Too Much For A $10 Item
The ordering options (as of June 20, 2016) at the LUX HD450 are confusing. One lens is $56. 4 lenses (“42.25 per unit”) is $169. Three lenses (two at $39 each and one free) is a total of $117. Or does the word “lens” really mean one box of 3 lenses? It isn’t clear. What is clear from complaints on the internet is that people are getting billed two or three times what they expected to pay. As has been pointed out in online posts, you can buy what appears to be the exact same set of lenses (under different names) at Walmart or Amazon for less than $10. It is not uncommon for a manufacturer to sell the exact same low budget item to several different companies and add each company’s name to the item item.
Compare these two items (look at the sdhape of the clip), taken from the two screen captures below.
The complete LUX HD450 three lens set. Two of the lenses are stacked together on the clip.
The GFKing three lens set sells at Amazon for $7.81 (as of the date of this article). If you look closely at these three lenses (0.6X WIDE, MACRO, FISH EYE LENS 180°) and the names on the lenses, they are identical to the lenses in the LUX HD450 ad. The only difference is the name on the clip.
The same lenses, same clip, different company, different price. Even the photo is the same except for the absence of a name on the clip.
Look familiar? Same three lenses. Same clip. Different photo. Different company.
So you can pay over $100 for a three lens set (and buy the set from a company that has been known to add on outrageous extra charges) or you can buy a three lens set under several different brand names for under $10 from Amazon or Walmart. Your choice.
Despite the reviews at Amazon (the reviews are no better than the experience and skills of the reviewer), don’t expect a lot of quality for a three lens set that sells for under $10. If you want a really good quality auxiliary lens set for your smart phone, read reviews like this one or this one from people who actually test the lenses and post comparison photos.
Problems with the LUX HD450 Company