Remember last week when I said I was waiting for my Photojojo Camera Phone Lenses to arrive? Well, shortly after that post went live, a cute little package arrived on my doorstep! I’ve had some time to play with it, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts.
Even though Photojojo offers them in a set of 3, I opted for buying just the Wide Angle/Macro lens and the Telephoto lens. I hemmed and hawed about it, but honestly, I haven’t had much (or any) need for a Fisheye lens, so I decided against it. It’s just not my style, and since I’ve been playing with the lenses over the last couple days, I haven’t felt the loss.
As for the lenses themselves, they work via magnets. One sticky ring magnet goes directly onto your phone, and there are two general rings – ones for iPhones and ones for all other phones. The only difference is that the iPhone ring has a little notch cut out of it to go around the flash, which is handy. And there are extras of both types, for replacements or to share the same lens between different phones.
Sticking them on was pretty easy (and the instructions are right on the back of the box). I didn’t need to remove my phone case to do it; I just peeled the paper back off and gently dropped the ring into place. There’s some give or wiggle room, especially if you don’t press down too hard, to get it perfectly positioned. Once it’s where you want it, then press down for a minute, let it set for half an hour, and it’s done. Simple.
The lenses then snap to that ring. The magnets all seem to be pretty strong, as I had my camera in a bunch of different positions to take photos and didn’t come across any problems. And in a completely unscientific phone shake test I conducted, they passed. That said, because it’s only magnets holding it on, the lenses can and do move with the slightest direct bump against them.
To protect both the back and front, they come with tiny covers and magnetic backs that have loops to attach to your key ring. Both covers can be a little tricky to get off, only because they are small; but with a little practice, I can get them off smoothly and easily.
My biggest worry, and I checked this before attaching the ring magnet, was that the lenses wouldn’t work with my case on my phone. The camera cut-out on the back of mine is pretty large compared to other cases I’ve seen, so I felt fairly confident it would work, and it mostly did. However, even with the slightly bigger hole, the lenses themselves butt right up against the case, so if your phone case has an opening smaller than mine, or if the opening is closer to your lens than mine, the lenses might not work while your case is on your phone.
My problem area is right at the corner of my phone; there’s just not much space right there. The ring fits, and the lens snaps on just fine, but the lens pushes right up against the side of the opening, so it’s ever so slightly off center. This results in some distortions in the photos, but I honestly don’t notice them a lot, or mind them when I do. At around $20 a piece, I look at these as fun lenses, not necessarily professional glass lenses, so I see the results as kind of playful experiments.
Plus, that has nothing to do with how the lenses perform; it’s totally an issue created by my phone’s case, which can be changed (and the problem eliminated) later.
As for photo examples, take a look:
This is a photo with the Telephoto lens on. I think this little lens has a natural tendency to blur the edges, so the out of focus edges don’t bother me. There’s a little more distortion in the middle on the left hand side than the right – that’s from having the lens slightly off center. Again, I actually don’t mind it personally, because I like blurs.
As far as functioning, the Telephoto lens does indeed bring in whatever you’re shooting about two times closer to you, which is nice. I actually wouldn’t have minded if it was more powerful, getting me even closer. This is mostly because I’m not a fan of any digital zoom, much less the one on my phone, but I’m greedy. Given that this is made for a camera phone, not a DSLR, and is on the lower end of the price spectrum, it’s a pretty nifty little lens.
Standing in the same spot, I switched to the Wide Angle lens. Like any wide angle lens, it extends the range out quite a bit, which is going to be fun to play with. That plane you see? That was above my head, to give you a sense of perspective. It’s so wide that it captures the edges of the opening of my phone case on the right hand side (there’s some natural vignetting happening on the left, in case you’re wondering what that was).
Like the blurs with the Telephoto lens, I don’t actually mind the little vignetting or dark corners. I’m mostly posting photos from my phone to Instagram, and I’m usually cropping it to a square format anyway. Cropping out those corners isn’t a big deal to me, but that’s probably a personal thing.
Now, the Macro lens. This was the one I was most looking forward to trying out, and is actually a part of the Wide Angle lens. The Wide Angle lens has two parts to it, and to get to the Macro lens, you unscrew the top part of the Wide Angle. This can be tricky, as the parts are small, so I found it best to unscrew it while it’s detached from my phone.
Since I haven’t ever tried out a real macro lens for my DSLR, I’m not entirely sure how those work or what they feel like shooting to compare to this one. I can say that this lens feels like a magnifying glass. What did surprise me was how close I had to get to my subject in order to focus with this lens. I’m not talking inches, I’m talking millimeters. This photo is of a wrought iron table, and I had to almost lay my phone down on top of it to get it to focus on the center.
Because all of these lenses add on to your phone’s camera, there’s a little bit of tweaking to figure out how to best use them. Out of the three, this one takes the most finagling and adjusting by moving your camera around until the part you want to be in focus actually is in focus. It also requires a steady hand, so I’ve been looking for places to rest my hand or arm against so the lens has a chance to focus. It also helps to tap on the part of the screen that you want to be in focus before taking the photo.
Big surprise, this been my favorite to shoot with so far. I like being able to get super close up and see all of these random details. I also like that if I wanted to, I can shoot anything with the macro lens and have it turn out intentionally blurry with lots of bokeh, like this photo I took.
So, final thoughts? I like these little lenses a lot, and have been having a lot of fun trying them out. I think they’d be great for someone who enjoys playing with their phone’s camera, and is willing to experiment a bit with them.
Since I wrote up the Gifts for the Photo Lover post, I found that there’s a similar product called Olloclip. With an Olloclip, all three lenses – Telephoto, Wide Angle/Macro, and Fisheye – are a part of a clip-on accessory. The downside is that Olloclips are designed to go on a case-less iPhone, which is a deal-breaker for me; I’m very paranoid about dropping my phone because I’m clumsy and it has happened. But if you’re looking for other alternatives, this seems to be a good one! Be sure to check out their photo gallery for example shots.
Your turn – do you use any add-on camera phone lenses or products?
P.S. The three example shots are straight out of my phone without any editing other than resizing. It was so hard for me not to edit them up, let me tell you.
P.P.S. I named the dinosaur in the top photo Henry. He was in my package, too.