Macro and Telephoto Lenses for Smartphone Cameras

I have had success with the Moment case and lenses. They are pricier than the clip-on varieties but do a great job.

Here are some shots I’ve done with it:


I’m using the KINGMAS 3-in-1 lens kit (with bag) that I picked up in a local store for around $4. It’s fit over a couple different phone cases that I’ve used and the lenses can easily be kept in a shirt or pants pocket. Does take a bit of practice to use and I still often find it difficult to get the focus right, but that’s the case with my DSLR as well. :-S

Some example photos with that lens: (Pictures 1, 2)

Just keep in mind, when you buy a flat lens like the one I have seen above, that it forces to move the whole mobile close to the subject, which is scaring away insects and is kind of a pain when you have to shoot details of something between other stuff or on a leaf of a branchy plant, because you end up touching something else before getting to focus right
The clip on type I posted above allows to use as a probe. The lighting attachment is sometimes annoying indeed, but it is made so that it can be rotated axially, so it’s a problem which can be fixed.
I would probably get another one without lighting attachment though.


I’ve been using a 2.8X Clip-on Macro Lens for a while, and one problem that I often have is lighting. Especially with captured small organisms that I bring home to photograph, the phone, being very close to the photoed subject, will often block off the light and I would have to move the light source to illuminate the organism from the side. This lighting is sometimes insufficient, resulting in darker photos (sometimes I will have photos of darker ants being pretty much a silhouette). So I’m wondering how do you illuminate the photoed subjects? I generally have less problem using natural light sources out in the field, so I’m planning on taking photos in the wild whenever I can (I only did that rarely before).

Some examples with clip-ons: (first 3) (this one was photographed from the field and the natural light has a better effect)

This is why I sometimes use a hand lens (which has a lighting attachment around the object lens) to take photos. I usually have more successes with it so it can also be a substitution for people who don’t have clip-ons. Currently I’m using this method more often with captured organisms but it is very difficult to use in the field.

Some examples with hand lens:

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My iPhone currently has an Otterbox case, and so I prefer to just clip-on a macro lens that will fit on over that rather thick casing. I wish I still had the original clip-on macro I bought as part of a three-lens set – it was super cheap, but it worked fine.

The lens that comes built into a rubber band (Easy MAcro) is cheap and also works surprisingly well, but I find it very fiddly to put on and off, unlike a clip-on.

I just now went onto Amazon and bought the cheapest set of clip-ons I could find, which was also the “Amazon’s Choice”. If I like it, I will buy a couple more sets to hold in reserve for when I lose the macro. I never use any other lens in the set but the macro.


That also worked for me but I found that if I upload screenshots of a video I have to manually type back in the data (time, location etc.) again, so personally its not feasible for me.


See this recent post for that:


I gave myself $60 5 years ago to try all of the little macos lenses I could find on Amazon at different price points and found that between $40 down to $1 there wasn’t a huge quality difference. I recommend typing in “Clip on macro lens” to Amazon and sort by price and look for the cheapest 3 lens set that has a macro lens in it. The biggest trick for using these lenses is that you need to move the phone to the subject to focus, don’t use your phones focus. Often times I will auto-lock my phones focus before even attempting to get close so that I don’t have to worry about it trying to focus while I move in. If you are unfamiliar with auto-locking your focus on your phone, most of the iphone and andriod systems will do it if you hold down on your screen while you have your camera on and you’ll get a “AF Lock” or similar message.


I also really like my Moment lens. The ring “diffuser hood” is helpful as a guide to get the right distance with flat-ish things, but you can also shoot without it.
You have to use their iPhone case, but I the case is fine for me for general use. I’m afraid I’m going to lose the lens, cap, or diffuser all the time, but so far I haven’t. I need to work out a system for handling everything without dropping things.

Here are some examples of my shots:

My husband is more interested in general photography and has done a lot with a regular DSLR camera. He’s using the Moment telephoto and wide angle lenses and likes them a lot.


The Xenvo Pro Lens Kit mentioned above comes with a USB rechargeable soft light that you can also clip to your phone.

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Are there any experiences of the combination of macro lense + light source when it comes to insect photography? And are there other brands beside Xenvo Pro that offer this combination?


Thanks! I’ll check that out!


only saw this post now. I was using Shiftcam on my iPhone 7 for over a year, and loved it so much I wouldn’t replace my phone even though I needed to. A few weeks ago I finally replaced it with and iPhone 11 & ulanzi. Both these options work great for me, as the lens slides on a built-in case. Both have 2 different macro lenses, and are very easy to switch between lenses. I tried the clip-on lenses before, and found it time consuming to clip on the lens at the exact right place. With these models, you simply slide the lens to its place. The ulanzi also has a nice telephoto lens, that together with the iPhone’s telephoto lens, is pretty awesome. It really changed the way I take photos, and most of the time I only use my phone, even if I carry my real camera with me. The quality of the photos is great, and they look nice, and can be used for more than just ID.


one more thing - I also use uHandy microscope for small aquatic samples. This one is a clip-on lens, with a little cap for a wet sample. It works great with mosquito larva and such, that you can suck with a pipette and then view on the screen. I love using it while teaching/ on a public event, where I can show people a tiny creature live on my phone.


My brand new super cheap clip-on macro is very nice. The set was US $5.99 and an “Amazon Choice”. I will now order two more sets to keep in reserve.

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But not sure if it can be used for macro.

@ryancooke, after reading this thread, I purchased the Ztylus Z-Series macro lens. It was $35 on Amazon and seemed like a good compromise between price and quality. But I am having trouble with focusing on anything other than a flat surface; the depth of field appears to be extremely shallow. Does the Moment lens have as much depth of field as your photos appear to have?

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All my macro photos are taken with Moment and I have been pleased with the results. The lens has a stationary focal length of about a half inch, so it takes a little practice, but you get the hang of it quickly. It comes with a diffuser hood that can help get the focal length exactly right.

Moment also comes with its own phone camera app with macro settings that are specifically designed for that lens.

One tip I’d share is to hold down your “button” when taking a macro shot to take a short burst of photos. That gives you the best shot at a great photo.


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