New Lenses – An Unsolicited Review

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In the magical world of Twitter, after seeing a couple interesting retweets, I came across a site called Life in LoFi: iPhoneography.

Life in LoFi is a site dedicated to the emerging art of photography taken solely with the iPhone camera (or iPad or iPod). Lately I have been really into shooting with my iPhone, so I was happy to stumble across these good folks.

The Life in LoFi people are worth a follow if you are into iPhoneography. I’ve made good use of their tweets about photography apps that are either on sale or free. In the past two months I have picked up scores of new apps that I’d never have found on my own, and most of them were heavily discounted or free. There’s some amazing and powerful photography apps out there these days.

And then one day, the Life in LoFi people turned me on to a site called Photojojo. I’m probably massively behind the times in this discovery, but so be it.

Photojojo is dedicated to tips and tricks, and some of the best and most intriguing products for digital photography. Well, this site is right up my alley.

I sashayed over to the Photojojo online store and explored their offerings. My first purchase was a really fantastically cool item that I hope to review tomorrow. I had a little mechanical glitch with the product on that first order, and the Photojojo took care of me so well (customer service that goes above and beyond, truly) that I chose to go back to the online store to buy more product to support such a wonderful store.

Finally we get to the meaty part of this post. One of the items I bought from the Photojojo team was a real, honest to goodness glass lens for my iPhone. It’s a combo macro and wide angle lens.

Here’s what the kit looks like out of the box:





The macro lens is the smaller piece and is used alone. The two lens pieces screw together to become one solid lens for the wide angle shots.





Here’s the tricky part…this lens attaches to the iPhone by way of magnets. See that metal circle to the right in the below photo (center in above photo)? That has reusable stickum on it. You stick that ring around the iPhone camera lens (if you have a case on your phone, that has to come off). Then the lens sticks with a strong magnet to the metal ring.

I’ll be honest…it’s not a very elegant solution. It works, but it’s less than perfect.





Here are some photo examples to get a good idea of what the lenses can do.

This is a normal photo taken with the QuickPix app with no lens other than the one built into the phone.





This is the same photo at the same distance with the wide angle lens attached. It has a bit of a fisheye look to it, and you can see the sides of the lens in the corners, but that’s fairly easily cropped off. I did no touchup other than shrinking the size and a little boost on light balance in iPhoto.





Same photo with the macro lens. I got as close as I could and while keeping the object in focus.




The macro photo is not bad. It’s WAY better than anything the iPhone camera can do on its own. For example, I didn’t know my keyboard key had scratches in it until I took this photo. I’d never have captured that with the regular iPhone camera.

All of these photos are a bit noisy as 1) the iPhone camera just comes with a lot of noise and 2) I was not in the best lighting situation for these photos. I find with the iPhone camera, light is everything in order to make a decent photo.

One of my biggest complaints about the iPhone camera is the inability to get close up shots that are in focus. This little stick on lens really fits the macro bill. I’m not completely in love with the form factor of the sticky ring and magnet, but I’m able to make it work. I’ve played around with it some and find that overall, I’m quite happy.

This real glass wide/macro lens cost me the meager sum of $20 plus shipping from the Photojojo store. A bargain, in my opinion.

Tomorrow, I’ll review my other purchase from Photojojo. It’s another lens, but while the macro/wide angle lens simply makes happy, the lens I’ll chat about tomorrow knocks my socks off.

Stay tuned photo friends! I’m whipping out my book of superlatives!




The good people at Photojojo simply impressed me so much with their products and customer service that I chose to write this review. They didn’t ask me to or pay me for my opinions. Just passing along a good thing.


All photos by Karen Fayeth, taken with the QuickPix app, and subject to the Creative Commons license found in the far right column.


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Comments

  • Andy D

    Wow. Very cool information. I have been really getting into digital SLR photography. However, I have recently been thinking of picking up a small camera to keep with me when I don’t want to drag the good one around. Maybe I should invest in a few add-on’s for my iPhone. Thanks for the info!

    • Karen Fayeth

      Hi Andy – These little lenses certainly won’t replace a good point and shoot with optical zoom and macro capabilities, but they are a lot of fun to play around with. Perhaps if you are headed out for a photowalk, then these little lenses are just the ticket to fuel creativity?

      Have fun and shoot on! :)

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