Pocketful of Pictures
For school projects that require high-quality or creative photos, the answer just might be in your students’ pockets. That’s because a smart-phone and a set of snap-on specialty lenses can outshoot most digital cameras while costing less.
Digital King’s iPhone lenses can do the optical trick with two products that extend a smart-phone’s camera into new areas. Both use high-quality glass optical elements that are held in place magnetically around the phone’s lens. While they’ve been designed for the iPhone 4 and don’t work with the iPhone 3 series, the lenses work well on other smart-phones, like HTC’s Incredible 2.
To install them, carefully place the included adhesive magnetic ring around the camera’s lens so that it’s centered. The ring doesn’t obstruct the camera’s use and you won’t even notice the black band unless you have the white iPhone.
Just put the lens’s base near the magnetic ring, it snaps into place and allows quick lens changes. The lenses are securely mounted and work with still photos or videos. Unfortunately, because the camera is at the end of the iPhone, the whole thing is a bit ungainly and awkward.
In other words, it’ll take a little time to get the feel for where the lens is and what you’re shooting. The good news is that the entire phone’s screen is the camera’s viewfinder, making it easy to frame any subject.
There are two products to choose from, but one of them does double duty. The Wide & Macro lens is actually two lenses in one. Together, they are a wide angle lens that has a 90-degree field of view and a 0.45X magnification. That translates to a little more than doubling the camera’s field of view.
Unscrew them and there’s a small macro lens that lets you get to within about an inch of an object and stay in focus. It increases the magnification four-fold and worked beautifully on a close-up photo of a keyboard key.
The other lens, a 180° Fish-Eye lens, is optically simpler and all about distortion. It has a 0.2X magnification factor, pulls in an astounding 180° field of view and makes close up items seem bulbous.
All three lenses produce sharp and vivid shots that have accurate colors and lack the annoying rainbow artifacts that cheap lenses produce. On the downside, images taken with the wide angle lens are fuzzy on the edges and you’ll need to turn off the flash when using the macro lens to avoid overwhelming the image.
While the lenses come with extra adhesive rings, a bag and a lens cap, there’s one thing they can’t do. Unlike Photojojo’s 8X zoom lens, neither of these lenses can zoom in on an object, limiting the lenses usefulness.
Still, these lenses let you see – and shoot – like a pro.
+ Expands the usefulness of a smart-phone’s camera
+ Works with iPhone 4 and other phones
+ Magnetic mount and bag
+ Surprisingly sharp photos
- Makes phone feel awkward
- No optical zoom