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Hands on: Cheap Interchangeable Cell Phone Lenses

That L glass is too heavy anyway

January 22nd, 2014

Shooting with a smart phone is fun! As one tends too keep it close at all times, capturing that special moment has gotten so much easier. But what if you are tired of that limiting, fixed focal length lens - is there a way to change it? Turns out, there are quite a few options. Mostly for fun, I ordered a set of three lenses - one which also doubles as a macro lens - and took them for a spin. For less than 10 USD, what can go wrong? Read on for more.

What's in the package?

The packaging is pretty minimalistic, but you get exactly what you need. As a bonus, apart from the lenses there is also an incomprehensible manual included, which has some fine examples of Engrish. Like this one:

It shoule be grateful to use the phone if the camera lens at the center, on direct absorption in the Ring to use.

So, I guess you need to be grateful when mounting it? Or something. Beats me.

The packaging is simple, and there is no branding on it.
The packaging is simple, and there is no branding on it.
From the left: 2x tele, fish eye, and 0.67x wide angle/macro.
From the left: 2x tele, fish eye, and 0.67x wide angle/macro.

The lenses have rubber lens caps. The back is magnetic and the supplied metal covers can be put on when not in use. The string could be attached to a keychain I guess, but by doing so, you will probably loose the lens - magnets are only so strong!

These metal rings have a sticky back for attaching to the cell phone (non-permanent). They are shaped a bit differently - the one with the notch could be used if the flash is close to the lens, so that it will not cover it.
These metal rings have a sticky back for attaching to the cell phone (non-permanent). They are shaped a bit differently - the one with the notch could be used if the flash is close to the lens, so that it will not cover it.
The wide angle lens can be taken apart and be turned into a macro lens. Nifty.
The wide angle lens can be taken apart and be turned into a macro lens. Nifty.

How to use

Pay close attention now.

Sticky side down, put a ring on the phone...
Sticky side down, put a ring on the phone...
... and put a lens on it!
... and put a lens on it!

Samples

Original shot using the Nexus 4.
Original shot using the Nexus 4.
With the 2x tele attached. Middle looks pretty OK, but edges are unsharp and there is some serious vignette. And also... only 2x? The Nexus 4 reportedly has a focal length equivalent to 33mm, which makes this 66mm. You pay a lot in terms of quality for some very mild tele.
With the 2x tele attached. Middle looks pretty OK, but edges are unsharp and there is some serious vignette. And also... only 2x? The Nexus 4 reportedly has a focal length equivalent to 33mm, which makes this 66mm. You pay a lot in terms of quality for some very mild tele.
0.67x wide. Not much to see here, skip forward to the fish eye!
0.67x wide. Not much to see here, skip forward to the fish eye!
The fish eye lens. Looks pretty cool, but hardly very sharp.
The fish eye lens. Looks pretty cool, but hardly very sharp.
This is a macro shot with the phone without any extra lens.
This is a macro shot with the phone without any extra lens.
And this is super macro! Using the macro lens, we can get pretty close. But the image quality is quite terrible.
And this is super macro! Using the macro lens, we can get pretty close. But the image quality is quite terrible.

Conclusion

So is this something you need for your cell phone? Well... as always, it depends. While the lenses look pretty, they don't deliver much in terms of quality if that's what you are looking for. Also, the handling is poor - the ring keeps sticking to the lens when I change lenses, so I have to keep reattaching it to the phone. But still, for the price, they are fun toys that keeps you busy for a while.

Alternate use: You could probably also attach them to a webcam, or something like a D-Link DCS IP camera for a full 180 degree view of the room. Possibly more suitable for this than a cell phone since quality is not really a concern.

September 28th, 2017 20:50
Joie Gahum

Great shots! Checkout roadeavour lens too!

September 30th, 2017 22:12
Erik

Hi Joie Gahum,

thanks! However, I'm not sure I think the shots are that great. If I come across the roadeavour lenses, I might check them out in hope of better quality.

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