I love the convenience of my iPhone for taking photos. I love how I can hold it in my hand and grab a snap at any given moment. The quality isn’t bad either – fairly decent clarity and file size meaning I’ve been able to take part in a couple of photography exhibitions showing pictures taken on it.
One thing I’ve been wanting to try for a while is one of those little zoom lenses you can get to attach to your phone, so see what kind of shots I might be able to get with it. My Trendy Phone sent me this one to test out – at just £23 it’s not the cheapest or the most expensive example I’ve seen advertised. It offers a 12x optical zoom which enlarges the capacity of the iPhone’s shooting ability and enables you to get a close view without having to move close.
The lens itself is just over 7cm long and made of plastic. It comes in a kit along with a mini tripod, iPhone case, bracket to fix the case to the tripod, cleaning cloth and carry bag. Note that you can’t actually get all of the kit in the carry bag, so I’ve kept the box the lens came in to store all the bits in.
The case is plain black and sits nicely on the phone – you could use this as your everyday case if you were going to use the lens a lot, or even if not. The little tripod is quite neat and with the bracket you have a nice sturdy base from which to use your phone with the lens attached. Using the tripod is an absolute must if you want blur free images – even with the tripod it’s not very easy to get a completely in focus shot so take my advice and don’t try to use this handheld. I found the kit a bit fiddly to get set up to start with, but soon got used to how it worked which made things quicker. The lens itself screws into the lens surround on the case, and the tripod has an easy to use head that allows you to use the phone portrait or landscape, and a ball that provides enough movement to get a straight picture in either direction. I found using the button on my headphones was the best way to release the shutter as it meant my phone stayed perfectly still for the shot.
This lens is not designed for macro photography or anything like that – it is simply to take photos of things a long way away. The minimum focus distance is three metres, but I’d say that to get a decent focus (using a combination of the focus ring on the lens and the iPhone’s autofocus capabilities) you need to be around five to ten metres from your subject. The zoom is quite impressive – 12x is a long way – and is definitely much better than using any amount of digital zoom with the iPhone camera lens.
Here’s an example of an iPhone original camera lens versus Telescope Camera Lens taken from the side of my house:
You can see that the zoom capabilities are quite impressive for such a little thing; I would never dream of cropping to something so small and the ability to zoom in that far does open some photography doors. However you will also notice that the quality isn’t that great, in reality. This was the best focus I could get (the best of about 20 photos I took, moving the focus ring and using my “remote” shutter release thanks to my apple headphones). The centre of the photo isn’t bad, but the edges are very blurred.
This second example shows a little wheel on the window ledge in my lounge. First standard iPhone (no editing) and then using the Telescope Camera Lens:
Here you really see the distortion the lens gives – the curve is very obvious. I wouldn’t be happy using this for product shots like the ones I use in reviews here on Splodz Blogz (and anyway, I am able to get really close for those), but it might be good for outdoor use when there’s something of interest a bit too far to capture on your phone without one.
This add-on lens for iPhone is, in reality, a bit of a toy. Apart from going out with this with the sole intention of taking photos, it’s not something I will be carrying around just in case. It’s not a total waste of money; for under £25 or so you get something that you’ll have fun playing with, that will provide a bit of a creative outlet, but I don’t think it is something that will actually improve your phone photography. The quality isn’t there – it’s cheaply produced, and the clarity of the shots shows that. To be honest I am yet to take any photos with this that I would be happy sharing – but I will keep playing and will let you know (probably on instagram) if and when I’ve mastered it. In the meantime I will continue to advise people to use their legs and move closer to their subject.
You can find the Telescope Camera Lens for iPhone 5 on My Trendy Phone for £23.50.