Rather than hauling around a bulky DSLR, mobiography is ‘smartphone photography’, a simple way of capturing the world around you with equipment you already have.
The convenience of being able to capture moments with just your mobile, and the easy integration with social media means that sharing your work has never been easier.
In this Mobiography series, I check out the top accessories for taking your smartphone photography to the next level. Starting with The Best Smartphone Macro Lenses!
What Are Macro Lens?
‘God is in the details’
-Mies Van Der Rohe
In our day-to-day life we see a wide-angled view of the world. A quick glossing over the details in order to to take in the bigger picture. But if you zoom in you are transported into another world of endless complexity and infinite depth. You notice details you never noticed before, find a renewed appreciation for the subtleties of light and shadow, and discover that a slight twist of the focus ring or shift in your position can make for a completely new work of art.
This can be so rewarding that once you’ve done it once you might find it hard to stop!
Although some smartphones have a macro feature, the closest you can reasonably get with the iPhone camera is about 3-4 inches, before excessive blurring. The only way of getting closer is with a lens attachment; the addition of a specialised macro lens allows you to focus extremely close to the subject, so it appears larger than life on your screen.
A macro photograph is when the image on the sensor is greater than life size, e.g. a 2X macro, is twice the life size.
This makes for fantastic photographs as all of the tiny details are revealed in their full splendour.
How to Take Macro Photos on Your Smartphone
Firstly, shoot in manual mode – not in auto. In auto the camera doesn’t know where to focus, so it’s important to fine tune the focus in manual mode,
When you are shooting close up, you need as much light as possible – it can even be useful to over expose. Lighting is everything. Source of light can be natural or artifical, warm or cool. But the best for macro is soft, natural, warm light.
Try isolating your subject on white background, and consider using a stand like the modahaus to steady the shot, and an (app) like the camera +6 for macro shooting parameter adjustment. A tripod is useful for locking into place the shot composition, and preventing unwanted movements. At such high levels of magnification, even the tiniest of movements can create unwanted blur.
What to look for in a Macro Lens
Macro Lens add ons for smartphones might seem like a gimmick, but even at the lower price points they can still offer a glimpse into another world.
I’ve rated these top three lenses according to Optical Quality, Portability, Durability and Ease of use.
SIM Tourist Top Pick – Macro Moment Lens
Moment offer a bunch of lens including fisheye, wide angle, and of course Macro lens. This is designed to capture life-sized images of the smallest objects, and has a focal distance of around 18.5 mm. It also includes a detachable hood that diffuses light to create the soft glow that is ideal for macro.
This is a fantastic quality lens, and is the best choice for those serious about their photography – it even comes with a free app that gives you more control over your shooting.
Compatible with: iPhone, Pixel, Samsung Galaxy
|Easy to add to phone|
Superb quality photos
Solid construction - high grade metal, optic glass
|Most expensive of the lot|
- Optical Quality: 9
- Portability: 7.5
- Durability: 8
- Ease of use: 8
Olloclip Macro Lens
This one is just for iPhone – and includes three lenses at three different magnifications, 7x 14x and 21x, which is so disgustingly close you could see the individual grains of sugar and the hair follicles in your beard.
Although this is quite a big lens, it snaps easily on the back (or front) of the phone and drops into a micro fibrecloth bag for easy transportation.
Olloclip Image Gallery
Compatible with: iPhone
|Includes free app for more control|
Three dedicated macro lens
|A little bulky|
- Optical Quality: 8
- Portability: 7
- Durability: 8
- Ease of use: 8
Easy Macro Band
At the other end of the price spectrum is the Easy Macro Band, which fits most phones , and is compatible with most cases. You might even be able to stretch it over a small tablet
This is a plastic macro lens built into a stretchy rubber band, that is capable of delivering some spectacular shots, and claims to deliver 4x magnification.
Easy Macro Image Samples
|Small form factor|
Neat charging case
|Not great ambient noise reduction|
Best integration with Motorola phones
- Optical Quality: 6
- Portability: 9
- Durability: 5
- Ease of use: 9.5