Add-on smartphone lenses have more going for them than I thought

Smartphone photography has come a long way in the last few years, and is now at a stage where fewer and fewer people frown at anyone selling their other cameras. I still have my DSLR around myself, but I have to admit that I sold my Canon HS300 when I got the Galaxy S II, and haven’t regretted it. It’s not just quality that’s gotten better, but the editing options and connectivity also helps people go all phone.

With so many people using their phone for pictures, the accessory industry is busy spitting out photo related accessories. Everything from tripod mounts to SLR lens mounts can be bought, and you find accessories in all price ranges. One of the accessories that have started popping up everywhere is add-on lens kits. Tiny lenses with special properties that stick to the phone using a case, magnets, or some other method.

A friend of mine stopped by yesterday, and actually pulled the trigger on such a kit  for the iPhone at a local store. The kit wasn’t expensive, and came with a case, wide-angle lens, and macro lens. We took the two for a spin, and I have to say,  might get some of these myself.

The wide angle lens isn’t the most useful in my opinion. It basically allows you to get more into the same view without walking backwards, useful for landscape pictures and things like that. The problem is that it also distorts the image in the process, and with panorama software now so easily obtainable, merging two photos has far more going for it.

The macro lens on the other hand is far more interesting. It allows the camera to focus much closer to the subject, which opens up for some interesting photos of tiny things. We were trying this out outside, so flowers and insects suddenly became a whole lot more interesting. While these obviously aren’t high quality SLR lenses, the image quality isn’t bad, and it’s a lot of fun toying around with macro photography. Focusing can be hard though, as even the tiniest movement translates into major focus issues. I have a feeling that the Galaxy S III’s rapid shooting mode that picks the best out of many images would be quite useful here.

If you want to check these lenses out, you can probably find one locally if you have a place that sells gadgets. There isn’t really a specific brand to these, though most of them seems to come from the same factory. Dealextreme has this kit for about $10 shipped worldwide, and packaging aside, it seems identical to the generic version of the kit that we tried the iPhone version of. $10 isn’t exactly a major investment, and if it provides a bit of fun with your smartphone camera, it might be worth it.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.