There are times when you need to zoom in to take a better picture, a feature lacking on all current mobile phones. But what if you could buy a lens attachment?
The cameras built into mobiles phones have been progressing in terms of quality over the years, starting as blocking VGA camera that barely took a postage stamp size image of terrible quality, to todays large, crisp auto focused image. They are no replacement for a professional camera, but the average user could fail to tell the difference.
However, there is one area all mobile phones fall short in: zooming. On a recent trip to a zoo with my children, I didn’t want to spend all day lugging around a huge Sony DSLR camera, particularly when my iPhone 4 takes very decent snaps, but when it came to feeding the tigers and a large crowd gathered I found myself at the back taking very distant photos.
Digital zoom really is a waste, it just magnifies the image, pixels and all, creating a very blocky image. Optical zoom is an area we have yet to see mobile phone manufacturers dip in to.
Sony are rumoured to be releasing a smart lens add-on for Android phones, and newer Nokias are reported to have some type of optical zoom, but nothing released yet, and nothing in the pipeline from Apple.
The zoo experience got me thinking. I wondered if there were lens attachments I could purchase that would fix to the back of my iPhone, and sure enough there was, so I purchased one. It was a very inexpensive £5, so I wasn’t holding out too much hope. It also looked a cheap no-brand product.
There was a lens cloth and a lanyard also in the box. The back simply clips over your iPhone, and you slide the lens into the groove. No software needed.
Does It Work?
The lens is sold as an 8x “zoom”, however it has no zooming, just 8x magnification. There is a focusing option, just to make the pictures a little sharper.
Here are some pictures of a garden chair in my garden. I was around 30 feet away from it. The first picture is without the lens, just using the standard iPhone camera. The second one is using the zoom lens, standing in exactly the same position.
As you can see. The first image is clear and crisp, but the chair is quite a distance away. The second image is fairly clear with some good detail on the chair and grass. However I noticed some rounding on the corners from the lens, and the image towards the edges looks a little blurred.
The third picture is one I took of a set of swings, but I had the flash on. As you can see, this zoom lens is no good for use when the flash is on, as it just reflects too much, probably off of the clear case.
It should be noted, that it can also be used for shooting video. There is a short YouTube video I shot at the bottom of this article. It isn’t the best of quality.
Was it worth buying? In short, no, and I shall be returning it if possible. The picture quality is below average and that circular effect is horrible. It would have been fun to use. If nothing else it would make people look when you take out your iPhone with a huge lens attachment on it.
From reading around you get the same quality and results from other models on the market too, pointing to the fact that fixed cameras on mobile phones are not designed to be enhanced. It seems we will have to wait until they build optical zoom in to them.
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