Macro and Telephoto Lenses for Smartphone Cameras

I recently bought the Apexel 100X Mini Microscope for smartphones on Amazon, but unfortunately, I’m not convinced by its performance. Although the lens is supposed to fit any smartphone, its bulky size makes it difficult to install correctly. Additionally, the image quality is not up to my expectations. The edges of the image are blurry, which impairs the clarity of details.

Another negative point is that to take a sharp photo, it’s necessary to get very close to the subject, about 2 or 3 millimeters, which makes taking photos difficult, especially if the subject is in motion, as is the case with insects.

Finally, the price of about 35 euros without shipping costs is high compared to the quality of the lens. For this price, I would have hoped for more convincing results. Overall, I do not recommend the Apexel 100X Mini Microscope for smartphones because the image quality is mediocre, and it’s difficult to use, even for an experienced photographer. It’s better to look for other higher-quality alternatives.

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Thanks for directing me to this thread. This seemed like a topic that other people would obviously have said stuff about but I just couldn’t find anything in a search for whatever reason.

That said, this is about magnifiers; should I make a separate thread for telephoto lenses?

The kit I got has telephoto as well.
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/macro-lenses-for-smartphone-cameras/9112

But I think taking photos through binoculars is better overall in terms of quality for price. I usually already have binoculars on me whenever I’d want to take telephoto pictures.

I can change the title to “Lenses for Smartphone Cameras”. Or feel free to start one for telephotos.

I have binoculars but I’ve found it horribly inconvenient because if I as much as move my phone a tiny bit off from the exposure of one of the scopes the picture disappears out of view. And I have to realign this for every single picture.

If you’ve got some binoculars that work well for this purpose, please do feel free to suggest them.

Feel free to change the title, if there’s no existing topic for telephoto lenses. I think I tried looking as well but couldn’t find one.

Given that telephoto and macro lenses are sold together pretty often, it makes sense I guess.

I guess I’ve just gotten pretty used to taking pictures through binoculars and microscopes. I just use a small Tasco (#168RB) that was lying around. I hold the binoculars sideways so both lenses are firmly held against the back of my phone. It takes a little getting used to, but I think it’s fairly easy to hold my phone and the binoculars while also having a free thumb to focus and take photos.

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Just saw these posted on a photography site I frequent. Kind of intense… https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shiftcam/lensultra-new-generation-of-mobile-lenses-for-ultra-clarity

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Hi all, for City nature challenge in my city, I’m considering to help local organizers by organizing an insect-centric walk. I’ve noticed some dirt-cheap macro lenses for smartphone - cheap enough (1-2EUR) that they could be given out to the participants of the walk which might improve their experience a lot. The shipping from China is typically much more than the lens cost itself which makes ordering many different types and testing them impractical. Does anybody have experience with such extremely cheap lenses? Are they still usable? Thanks!

There is a big difference between the cheapest lenses and the more expensive ones. The cheapest ones I´ve bought were simply unusable. In addition - to hand out to public wouldn´t work I think as most phone models require different lenses.
Or I guess there are the “universal” cheap ones…but I think those I tried were the least useful.
I preferred just holding a loupe in front of the phone - and this is what I offered to students at the time. But on the newer iphones that´s also difficult as the lenses automatically change depending on distance to object or whatever…

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My experience is that some cheap clip-on lenses work great with some phones. The optics of the phone’s camera lens and the thickness of the phone case seem to factor into whether a particular combination will work well. I’ve had cheap ones that worked great on my phone, and premium ones that didn’t work at all, but did work on someone else’s phone. Given how cheap shipping is from sites like AliExpress or Temu, it might be worth just ordering a variety of lenses and trying them on a variety of your friends/colleagues’ phones. Note that any given lens may be sold under several “brand” names, so try ordering a few types that look physically different.

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I take pictures with clip-on lenses that I bought last year and they give me a good result. Since I don’t have a very new cell phone (the model is from 2020), it doesn’t have macro mode or a good zoom. I decided to invest in these lenses to be able to take better pictures, especially of birds and insects. They were not too expensive (now with inflation everything has increased in Argentina) and they are made of glass and of good quality.They take pretty decent shots. Here are the ones I bought.
https://www.mercadolibre.com.ar/kit-lentes-de-camara-para-telefono-celular-iphone-xs-max/p/MLA28458814?pdp_filters=category:MLA432436#searchVariation=MLA28458814&position=4&search_layout=stack&type=product&tracking_id=2271d8fc-3e6f-4772-8dbd-3fae824ab19c

Here are some shots I took with these lenses:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/197461080
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/194856571
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/194856572
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/194856569
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/194389785
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/193592367
One of my favorites
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/185660753
One of my favorites!
I love this one

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I used several macro lenses and small microscopes to look at insects and other animals or plants, fungi, They are cheaper and easier to carry than camera lenses, and although they don’t show as much detail as camera lenses, they are enough to identify species.