Photography / Buying Guide

Buying Guide to Mobile Macro Accessories

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Are the pictures you shoot with your mobile device feeling uninspired or lacking in direction or focus? If so, perhaps it’s time to consider taking a macro approach. In other words—explore photography magnified.  

The root of the word “macro” refers to something long or large in scope, yet in this case, it refers to making small things look bigger. A macro image is generally distinguished by subject matter that is half-life size, (1:2), life size (1:1) or larger (2X, 3X, and so on) as represented on the image sensor.

While once consigned to the realm of specialty lenses, DSLRs, and studio setups, macro accessories for mobile devices are currently more popular than ever. In this B&H buying guide, we investigate a selection of products that bring macro photography right to your fingertips, allowing you to immerse yourself in image making on an intimate scale anytime, anywhere.

olloclip Lens Kits

In May, 2011, technologist Patrick O’Neill leveraged his house against the success of his invention of the olloclip 3-in-1 Photo Lens, in combination with initial funding secured via Kickstarter. The current flagship model, olloclip’s 4-in-1 Photo Lens includes two lenses with four focus options—a 10x macro/wide-angle and 15x macro/fisheye—both of which screw into a clip that slips over the camera lens at the top of your mobile device.

It’s a snap to swap out these quick-connect lenses and access the two macro options by a twist of the screw mount. olloclip’s 4-in-1 model comes in seven different color combinations with options to fit the iPhone 6/6s/6 Plus/6s Plus, the iPhone 5/5s, and the iPad Air 1 & 2/iPad mini 1/2/3. A stylish neck lanyard and colored pendant clasps allow you to make a simultaneous fashion statement, while plastic lens caps and a handy storage bag keeps everything secure when not in use. The lenses can be applied to both front-facing and rear cameras, and used for stills, as well as video footage.

Of particular interest to macro photographers is the olloclip dedicated Macro Pro Lens, featuring magnifications of 7x, 14x, and 21x, with a translucent InstaFocus hood to diffuse light and facilitate focusing. This lens’s 14x default setting provides medium magnification, while the 7x magnification offers a wider field of view with minimal bokeh. The 21x macro attachment offers the ultimate in close-ups with more pronounced bokeh, for super-high magnification of textures and details not easily seen with the naked eye.

The iPro Lens System by Schneider Optics

German optical manufacturer Schneider-Kreuznach is the force behind the iPro lens system, which is available for three different iPhone models, including the Trio Kit for iPhone 6/6s/6 Plus, the Series 2 Trio Kit for iPhone 5s, and the Macro Series 2 Lens, which is compatible with the iPro Case for the iPhone 4/4s/5. The Macro Series 2 Lens provides 2.5x magnification, which allows you to capture detailed portraits and sharp, clear close-ups of very small subjects including flowers, stamps, coins, jewelry, insects, and more. The lens twists onto the custom iPhone case via a DSLR-like bayonet mount. Those who purchase the kit will find that the wide angle and fisheye lenses fit inside a metal Combi Handle that screws into the case, enabling the handle to be used as a regular tripod mount.

ALM mCAMLITE and 37mm Wide Angle/Macro Combo Lens

Boasting specialty rigs for mobile reporting and filmmaking, Action Life Media (ALM) makes the mCAMLITE, an aluminum iPhone case that fits interchangeable glass lenses, including the ALM 37mm Wide Angle/Macro combo that’s bundled with the mCAMLITE Starter Kit (for iPhone 6/6s & 6 Plus/6s Plus). There’s also the Pro Lens Pack, which fits both the iPhone 6/6s and 6 Plus/6s Plus, the MoJo Reporter Pro Pack, and the Filmmaker Pro Pack. The unit’s aluminum frame offers stability, and the wide angle/macro combo or telephoto lens options let you shoot enhanced imagery in a wide variety of environments. A pouch is also included so you can take the mCAMLITE on the go.

Optrix by Body Glove Pro 4-Lens Kit

Underwater and adventure shooters will appreciate the Optrix by Body Glove Pro 4-Lens Kit and included Optrix Macro lens. Engineered to allow you to go anywhere and shoot anything, the case protects your iPhone from falls of up to 20' and keeps it safe from water down to 33'. Available for both the iPhone 6/6s and iPhone 5/5s/SE, this item also comes with a lanyard and a protective bag for storing the four included lenses—an approximately 10x macro, a 0° normal lens, a 165° wide-angle and a 2x telephoto.

Ztylus Revolver 4-in-1 Lens for Select Ztylus Cases

iPhone users seeking a variety of glass contained in a protective case can get the full package with the Revolver 4-in-1 Lens for Select ZTYLUS cases. Contained within the circular Revolver assembly are a 0.5x magnification wide angle, which unscrews to reveal a 10x macro lens for extreme close-ups, as well as a 170° fisheye lens, and a circular polarizing filter. The aluminum Revolver assembly twists on and locks in place on compatible ZTYLUS cases, and rotates to your choice of the multi-coated lenses or the filter.

iZZi Gadgets  Remix 5-in-1 Lens Case System

iZZi Gadgets offers another macro for mobile solution incorporating a rotating lens carousel with a slim protective case. Available for both the iPhone 6/6s and the Samsung Galaxy S5, the rotating lens carousel features professional-grade optics, including a 13x macro, a 2x zoom, a 170° polarizing fisheye, and an ultra-wide angle lens, making it easy to switch between lenses for a wide range of creative effects. And for aficionados of mobile selfies, an iZZI Gadgets Pod Selfie Stick with built-in Bluetooth Shutter is sold separately.

Mobi-Lens Wide+Macro Lens Clip

For customers seeking a universal solution to macro photography with a mobile device, the Mobi-Lens clip is designed to work on the front or back camera of most brands and formats of smart phones and tablets. Available in black, white, blue, or gold, the standard macro lens permits 10x more magnification than a native camera lens. Simply clip the portable Mobi-Lens Wide+Macro Lens over your device’s camera and get up close. This item also includes a 0.67x wide angle lens, which screws on top of the macro to offer a wider field of view.

Lensbaby LM-10 Sweet Spot Lens

While not technically a macro accessory, the Lensbaby LM-10 Sweet Spot Lens for Mobile Phones simulates a macro look by allowing you to catch a small spot of focus surrounded by a vast amount of blur. Compatible with a number of iPhones and Android devices, the LM-10 features a magnet on each end of the device for easy mounting and removal. Simply slide the included mount over the camera on your phone, or adhere the supplied adhesive-backed stainless steel ring around your phone’s lens to use it.  To get the most out of your shooting experience, pair the device with Lensbaby’s free app (for iPhone or Android), which allows you to move your focus around the frame, lock white balance and exposure, toggle between video and still mode, and much more.

For more on Lensbaby’s LM-10, click here, or watch this Quick Look Video about Lensbaby’s Creative Mobile Kit.

ExoLens Lens System for iPhone 6/6s

The Exolens Lens System for iPhone 6/6s currently features a 165-degree wide-angle and a 3X telephoto. What is this doing in a Buying Guide for Mobile Macro Accessories, you ask? The answer can be found in the announcement of a new collaboration between Exolens’s Fellowes Brands and the lens manufacturer Zeiss, which will launch three new mobile lenses—a Mutar 0.6x wide angle, Mutar 2x telephoto, and a Vario-Proxar macro—sometime this summer. Zeiss’s Vario-Proxar macro lens is reported to offer a continuous zoom function, permitting the full-frame capture of objects with diameters between 3 and 12cm. Additionally, a semi-transparent diffusor facilitates even illumination and enables convenient focusing, even with a short object distance and shallow depth of field.

Learn more in the Explora story Zeiss Fellowes Brands Create New ExoLens for iPhone 6 Series Smartphones.

ProScope Micro Mobile Digital Microscope Kit from Bodelin Technologies

The scientific realm of photo microscopy is now accessible on your mobile device with the ProScope Micro Mobile Digital Microscope Kit from Bodelin Technologies, which turns your iPhone or iPad into a handheld digital microscope with a range of magnification from 20 to 80x. Available for the Samsung Galaxy S4, iPhone 4/4s, 5/5s, 6/6s, 6/6s Plus, as well as the iPad 2/3/4, iPad Air, and iPad Mini, the kit features a removable, anti-reflection coated glass lens and 12 white light illumination LEDs arranged in two 6-LED banks. A built-in dial type dimmer adjusts picture brightness, contrast, and detail, while the unit’s internal 340mAh lithium-ion battery can be charged using an AC adapter or a USB power source using a mini-USB cable, providing at least five hours of run time when fully charged. In addition to handheld operation, it comes with a detachable table stand for hands-free operation and has 1/4"-20 threads for tripod connectivity.

For more options and accessories for shooting with your mobile device, check out Elizabeth Groeschen’s Explora article 10 Accessories to Help Improve Your Mobile Photography or Todd Vorenkamp’s Photography Accessories for Your iPad.

For more information on everything photography, check out B&H’s Learn Photography portal. You’ll find video tutorials, tips, inspirational articles, and gear reviews. B&H is “The Professional’s Source” for learning about photography.

#MacroPhotoWeek

Share your best Macro Photographs with us on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #MacroPhotoWeek for a chance to win a new macro lens and other prizes.

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