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How do I use phone lenses to best effect?

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I've recently acquired a set of mobile phone camera lenses - the sort that screw into a clip, and clip over the top of your phone's camera. These are the lenses:

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From left to right, they are (a) a macro lens, (b) a fisheye lens, and (c) a wide-angle lense.

I'm well aware they're not going to be the best lenses in the world! What I'd like to know is how to use them to best effect - i.e. disguising that I'm taking photos on a phone with not-great lenses, and take some nice shots anyway.

Why should this post be closed?

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2 answers

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As with much of photography, great technique (and composition) with mediocre gear produces better results than mediocre technique with great gear.

The macro lens will probably require the most work to get satisfying results. Macro photography has a very shallow depth of field, and usually requires very close lighting.

One thing to be aware of is lens flare. These lenses probably do not have great anti-reflective coatings, so they contribute to lens flare artifacts in your images. As such, you’ll need to be mindful of light sources that are in front of lens. This applies both to lights that can be seen in the image, and to lights that aren’t in the field of view of the image. Sometimes you can move your position to put the light more to the side. Sometimes you’ll have no choice but to have the lights in shot, in which case you’ll have to try to place your subject to not be obscured by the resultant lens flare. The more you can work with the flares and flaws and make them look like creative choices, the better you’ll feel about your photos, and the better they’ll come across to viewers.

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My answer will focus on the use of the Macro lens alone.

My experience with such is this lens by Moment:

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Note that the frosty filter is detachable in this particular lens. However, I'd recommend its use as the absolute hardest thing to nail with a macro lens is the focus - especially where you are handholding a phone. The size of this particular device is matched perfectly to the optical focal plane: setting a penny down on a table and then laying the camera down so that the filter is also flat on the table will yield an image with perfect focus on the penny.

Now, not all macro attachment lenses come with such a device, so my advice in those cases is: make one.

A filter like the Moment has a dual function - allowing you to shine a bright light into it to light your macro object and to have that light diffused on the way in. This is in addition to serving as a quick reference of where the focal plane is.

I haven't personally found the diffusion aspect of it to be very useful - but having the physical reference for how far away to position the camera for shooting flowers, bees, and other insects means getting a clean shot right away as opposed to moving in and out, tapping the screen to refocus, and maybe losing my shot.

So, figure out where the sweet spot of your macro lens is and make yourself a quick distance finder so that you can more easily get macro shots quickly.

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