8 of the Best Smartphone Camera Accessories

Best Smartphone Camera Accessories It’s amazing how quickly things change. There was a time in the not-too-distant past when nobody really took camera phones all that seriously. I can even remember a heated debate about eight years ago in which a friend of mine– a seventh-generation photographer whose great grandfather photographed the emergence of New York City at the turn of the 19th century– said to me, “Listen– My camera doesn’t make phone calls, and my phone doesn’t need to take pictures.”

Now armed with the latest iPhone, an arsenal of photo apps, and an Instagram account, his tune has obviously changed. I think a lot of people have seen their attitudes towards “iPhoneography” change in recent years, so it’s only fitting that the accessory market for these amazing devices has evolved and grown right alongside those changing attitudes. As a result, we now have the ability to take what is already a pretty good camera and raise the creative bar. Here’s a sampling of the best smartphone camera accessories currently available.

What To Look For In A Cell Phone Camera Lens? 

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When picking a camera lens for your phone, you must be smart. You can’t go around buying anything you feel like, for it can cost you more than money in the long run. Here’s what you should look for.

Affordability

Mobile phone lenses come at all price points. You can find great options at under $50, under $100, and well over that for the higher-end brands. But one thing you must remember is that higher prices don’t always mean good quality. Beyond $100, you can find 3-in-1 lens kits and lenses with professional-grade materials. But no matter what your needs are, remember to choose something that will be a good long-term investment.

 

Ease Of Use

mobile photography lens kit

You wouldn’t want a phone lens that’s tough to attach and stash. The main selling point of a mobile phone is portability and ease of use, remember? So it makes sense to look for this in the best cell phone camera lens. Anything that allows a simple clip-on function is a good choice. And if it requires way more than that before you can use it, give it a wide berth.

Quality Of Construction

What use is your new lens when it’s easy to break? When buying a phone camera lens, remember that lenses are quite delicate themselves. They involve a lot of parts that can come loose at any time, no matter what the brand name is. But the rule of thumb is simple, buy from reputable brands that have great product reviews. Look at what people say about the build quality, and you’ll be good.

closeup of camera lens

Most lenses out there feature cinema-grade construction. This means, they’re of the same quality as the lenses on major film cameras. When buying, try to look for that. It also means that your lenses won’t get scratched or break at the slightest bump and hit. As for the entire attachment itself, try looking for anything made of metal. There’s a growing selection of products made of aerospace-grade metal. That means it’s lightweight without sacrificing durability.

Versatility

lens kit on table

Is the camera lens only available for a specific phone model or brand? As much as possible, don’t go for that. Choosing a kit that offers universal compatibility is your best bet. What if it’s the best possible choice for you, but it doesn’t fit your phone? You wouldn’t want to be in that situation. It’s frustrating and annoying.

Another tip for versatility is how easy it is to switch out. Consider that you’ll need a fisheye lens right after using a wide-angle lens. If it’s hard to switch lenses on the fly, it decks the versatility of the kit. Try to look for that, more so if you shoot different photos at one time. You will thank yourself later.

Different Lenses Explained

Ever wonder what makes cell phone camera lenses so good despite their size? It all begins and ends with the lens. Remember all the different types of lenses and what they can do? This is an explanation of what they are and what they do.

 

Convex and Concave Lenses

concave and convex diagram

Here’s what you should know about concave and convex lenses. It is concave if it has an inward curve. Con and “cave”. A cave goes inward, get it? Lay a concave lens flat and you’ll see it looks like a basin of some sort. On the other hand, a convex lens has an outward curve. From the side, it looks like it’s bulging. With a concave lens, an image looks farther and smaller. On a convex lens, the image looks closer and bigger.

Fisheye 

fisheye not full frame

First things first, there are two types of fisheye lenses. One is the circular lens which captures a 180-degree viewing angle or larger. You see this as a circle within a square frame. Next is the full-frame fisheye, which captures all 180 degrees and covers the entire frame. There would be no circle inside a square.

full frame fisheye sample

Macro 

closeup of fly
photo by Virvoreanu-Laurentiu for pixabay.com

 

Macro lenses are for shooting closeups. Do you see the photos which show close-ups of dew or insects? All those which show the most minute details of anything and everything? You can achieve that with a macro lens. When choosing one, however, take note of the focal length. The longer the focal length is, the further you need to shoot from your subject. You can choose between 40-60mm focal length if you want to shoot as little as 6 inches away. Most macro lenses for phone cameras are of this length.

Telephoto

photographer using tele lens

Ever seen a professional photographer lugging around a long lens? His camera almost looks like a cannon with that thing on, that’s a telephoto lens. You’re lucky that you can get the same effects without having that cumbersome size. You use a mobile telephoto lens for capturing subjects at moderate to long distances. You can also use a telephoto lens for shooting portraits and sports events.

Wide-Angle 

mountain and lake

 

This lens’s name is self-explanatory. Use a wide-angle lens if you want to capture landscapes. They are perfect for fitting all the goodies you want in one frame. No need to step so far back! And take note of the “stepping back” habit to capture a photo, too. When using a wide-angle lens, move a little closer for a better perspective effect. Move further back, and the image looks boring. The purpose of a wide-angle lens is to allow you to capture as much of a scene as possible without moving too far back.

How Can I Protect My Camera Lens? 

Camera lenses, even mobile ones, are delicate. Your foremost concern will be the actual lens itself. But here are also general rules for protecting your kit from the elements. Not to mention, wear and tear.

General Protection

If your lens comes with a carrying case, always put it in there when not in use. Always place them in their respective case, no excuses. There’s a reason it’s in there, and a reason you paid for it too. Manufacturers design their carrying cases to protect against typical blows. Bumps, drops, scratches, and shakes can all damage your kit.

Dealing With Scratches

prevent scratches on your cell phone camera lens

But how do you prevent scratches? Easy. Don’t stash your lens kit anywhere but the case. But how can you remove them? The answer is household items. No, we’re serious. You don’t need to buy some special chemical or cleaning tools.

You have three main choices for cleaning solutions. Toothpaste, rubbing alcohol, or Vaseline. Take whichever you have at home, and a cotton bud or clean cloth. Also, if you have a microfiber cloth, get it. It’s the cleaning cloth included with prescription glasses.

Next, use the cloth or the cotton bud to coat the entire lens. Apply the solution and make sure to cover everything.

Dry the lens using a microfiber cloth for best results. If you don’t have one, choose a clean, soft cotton cloth instead.

Fungi Prevention And Cleaning

a cell phone camera lens can develop fungi

 

Fungi accumulation is a real threat to your lens. If you live where it’s humid, this can be a problem. But you can prevent it and deal with it when it comes.

To prevent fungi, always store your lenses in a cool, dry place. Moisture is what causes fungi buildup. Deprive them of that moisture, and they can’t grow. If you have no place like that, put your lens in an airtight bag with silica gel. The gel absorbs the moisture.

If your lens already has fungi, you can clean it up. Use a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and ammonia to wipe them off. Apply this solution to a clean cloth and wipe your lens with it. Or if you don’t have that, use vinegar and water. But remember to act fast. The fungal buildup can worsen in a matter of minutes or hours. Clean it up as soon as you see the signs, or you’ll have to opt for a professional cleaning. That can be expensive.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, here ends your ultimate mobile camera lens buying guide. Complete with lens type and cleaning tips, no less. Consider the options here so you can ensure value for your money. A mobile phone camera lens is a good choice for better photos and video. You’ll thank yourself later for making the right choice.

taking photos with smartphone
8 of the Best Smartphone Camera Accessories

Pocket Spotlight

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If you think that the pop-up flash on a DSLR is the most unflattering light source known to man, you’re close, but the flash on your smartphone is even worse. The Pocket Spotlight is designed to fix that, providing continuous lighting that you can either hand-hold or plug into your phone’s headphone jack. A full charge via USB will last about an hour. The light works well for both stills and video.

Triggertrap

You use your phone for everything else these days, so why not use it to trigger your DSLR? One end of the cord plugs into your camera, and the other plugs into your phone. Download the free app and you’re good to go. Modes include standard trigger, motion trigger, sound trigger, time-lapse, distance-lapse, face-detection trigger, customizable HDR, star trails, and more. Features vary somewhat between Android and iOS versions, so make sure to double-check if you’re looking for something specific. Individual components are available on Amazon, but check the website to make sure you get what’s right for your camera.

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iPhone Viewfinder

My biggest complaint about smartphone cameras is the inevitable glare on sunny days that keeps me from getting an accurate look at what’s in the frame. This handy viewfinder cuts the glare, as well as the trial and error.

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Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens

The Olloclip 3-in-1 is now a 4-in-1.  In addition to the fisheye, wide-angle, and 10x macro lenses, the newer version now includes a 15x macro as well. The 10x and 15x  lenses have focal distances of approximately 18mm and 12mm respectively. The fisheye captures approximately a 180-degree field of view, and the wide-angle lens approximately doubles the field of view.

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Manfrotto Klyp

If there was a Swiss Army knife full of smartphone gadgets, this would definitely be part of it. The Klyp by Manfrotto (for iPhone 4/4s) is a continuous, soft, daylight-balanced LED panel that combines with a case that has a 1/4-inch thread adapter that will mount on most tripods. Rated at 20 lumens when placed three feet from a subject, the package also includes a free iOS app that lets you take photos by clapping your hands.

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Optrix XD5 Case

This tough iPhone 5/5s case from Optrix can handle a 30-foot drop or watery depths of up to 15 feet. With buttons and touch screens still fully functional underwater, the three-element, all-glass, super wide-angle lens adds a new level of creativity and availability for your iPhone camera.

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iPro Lens Series 2 Trio

The latest iPhone lens kit from iPro has three lenses that twist on and off a hard, protective phone case. The macro, super wide-angle, and 2x telephoto all have a multi-layer coating that reduces lens flare.

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Sony QX10 and QX100 “Lens Cameras”

Camera and lens in one? Pretty much. Your iPhone or Android device acts as a live viewfinder. Either attached to the phone or “off-camera,” a wi-fi signal is established between the QX and the phone. Sony’s proprietary app gives the user control over white balance, exposure settings, zoom, and more. In addition to a manual zoom control, the QX100 has a 1-inch, 20.2-megapixel sensor, Zeiss lens, and a 1.8 aperture for low light and shallow depth of field. The compact QX10 offers 10x optical zoom.

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Do you have a favorite smartphone accessory that you can’t live without? Share it with us in the comments

FAQS

1. How can I make my phone camera better?

The first thing you should do is to realize that a large part of taking great images happens before you even pick up your camera. This includes knowing how to compose images, understanding the type of scene you’re shooting and how the light will affect it, and having a solid grasp of the principles of photography. You can also buy phone camera accessories such as zoom lenses or wide-angle lenses to take better pictures with your phone camera.

2. What do you need for phone photography?

In order to take professional photos with your smartphone’s camera, all you really need is yourself and a subject, preferably in good lighting conditions. In order to accomplish this without lugging around heavy equipment though, sometimes it helps if have some additional gear with you to help you take the shot.

3. Do professional photographers use phone cameras?

Yes, many professional photographers choose to shoot with smartphones for their speed and convenience, most notably when they’re on the go or in places where larger gear simply isn’t practical. Smartphone cameras can give great results if used correctly, though it’s important that users understand what limitations come with them so they don’t get discouraged when they compare an image taken with a smartphone camera against one from a more advanced DSLR setup.

4. How do smartphones hold their photos?

In order to store your files, your photo will be saved either as a JPEG file (a compressed file system) or RAW image (an uncompressed file system). Regardless of which file type you chose, it’s going to be saved onto a memory card that should have been included with your phone. The storage space may vary depending on the phone and manufacturer, but for most smartphones, you’ll want to use an external microSDHC or microSDXC memory card if you don’t already have one.

5. How do you take professional pictures with your phone?

The first thing to do is find subjects that interest you and will translate well into still images. Whether it’s animals, landscapes, or motion shots using slow-shutter speeds, try and think outside the box by playing around with different techniques and compositions — even just making something as simple as a college can help get your creative juices flowing.

6. How can I take pictures of myself with my phone camera?

The best way to get good self-portraits is just practice, practice, practice! You won’t be able to master this technique right away, but the more you do it the better you’ll get at it, so keep trying and don’t give up. Another great tip for making your own picture using your smartphone camera is to simply position the lens close enough where the screen shows what’s being captured without needing to see or move around too much. This will help reduce motion blur resulting from excessive movement while snapping a photo, which leads us to our next point…

7. How can I make my Android camera quality better?

There are a number of ways you can make your Android camera shoot at higher quality. Probably the most important thing is to simply keep your phone as still as possible while taking the picture — try setting it on a flat surface if you’re worried about shaking and screwing up your shot. The longer your phone’s shutter stays open, the more likely you will be able to capture movement without producing blurry photos — just remember that this also means that it’s easier for bright light sources (such as street lamps or car headlights) to blow out and look like white blobs rather than actual lights. Finally, using flash isn’t always ideal but when needed, try switching from “auto” mode to “force flash” or “torch” mode which will compensate for any changes in lighting.

8. How do I make pictures clearer on my phone?

The key here is to avoid using the digital zoom function on your smartphone camera, which will cause pixelation and image degradation. Try instead using “zoom” apps that allow you to use your phone’s hardware optics rather than the software code to enlarge images while still shooting at a higher resolution (if possible) or crop later in post-processing if necessary – this way results are much cleaner. Another option is to try taking photos closer to subjects rather than zooming in, though of course, this won’t be ideal in all situations. And when taking close-up shots of small objects with high levels of detail it’s also useful to try and capture as much of the subject as possible, rather than cutting it off at certain points.

Conclusion paragraph:

We are always looking for ways to improve the quality of our photos. One way is by using an external lens, which can be attached to your cell phone camera’s built-in lens. This will allow you to take better shots in low light or with a wider field of view. There are many other accessories that may help as well – have you tried any? Let us know if we missed anything!

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