Auxiliary Lenses for Mobile Devices

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Am I the only one who thinks it’s funny that when a new smartphone debuts, the only thing people ask about is the camera? Is it a decent phone? Nobody cares. Does the caller sound like they’re calling from Mars? If they do it’s not the phone—contact your carrier. The only things people seem to care about are how many megapixels and how many lenses it has.

Unlike earlier-generation smartphones, which typically had a single semi-wide-angle camera lens with some form of digital zoom, today’s smartphones offer multiple lens options that enable you to capture wider landscapes or perhaps shoot tighter to distant subjects with better clarity and at higher resolutions.

Depending on your smartphone, you may or may not be satisfied with the focal length choice(s) you currently have. If you are happy, that’s terrific. If you’re not happy with your lens choices, you do have options. B&H stocks a wide selection of accessory wide-angle, ultra-wide-angle, telephoto, fisheye, 3D, macro, and anamorphic lens attachments for iOS and Android smartphones.

Apexel 4K HD Mobile Phone 5-in-1 Camera Lens Kit

Available individually or in sets, these auxiliary lenses attach to your smartphone using magnets, adhesives, or clips, depending on the make and model. None of these auxiliary lenses attach permanently—they are easily removable and will neither damage your phone nor void your warranty.

It should be noted that because the size and aspect ratios of smartphone cameras vary, the focal lengths and angles of view (AoVs) of smartphone camera modules, while fairly accurate, can be approximate. Even the terminology used to describe lens classification can be confusing. As an example, the focal length of the “telephoto” lens on an iPhone 8 Plus, XS, and XS Max ranges from 52 to 56mm, which any 35mm shooter will tell you is a normal lens. Does a 56mm lens offer twice the magnification of a 28mm wide-angle lens? Yes, but that doesn’t make it a telephoto lens by any other measure.

The following is a sampling of some of the auxiliary lenses and lens kits we sell at B&H by category.

Wide- and Ultra-Wide-Angle Auxiliary Lenses

Wide- and ultra-wide-angle auxiliary lenses allow you to photograph wide-field landscapes, as well as take pictures in cramped quarters. Depending on the lens, these attachments enable you to take photographs with diagonal fields of view ranging from 112 to 67°, which corresponds to the focal lengths of full-frame 35mm lenses ranging from about 12 to 35mm.

The Sirui 18mm Wide-Angle Lens converts a 29mm (equivalent) smartphone lens to the equivalent of an 18mm lens (95°). If the native focal length of your smartphone lens is wider or narrower, the resulting AoV of the Sirui lens will be accordingly wider or longer. The Sirui 18mm wide-angle lens comes with a clip that holds it in alignment with your smartphone’s lens.

The Sirui 18mm Wide-Angle Lens

Beastgrip’s Wide-Angle Lens with Macro adds a 0.43x magnification factor to cameras on smartphones and tablets with 37mm threaded lens mounts. What this means is if your smartphone has a 28mm equivalent lens, the Beastgrip’s wide-angle lens will now take in more than double the AoV, or the equivalent of a 12mm ultra-wide lens on a full-frame 35mm camera.

The Beastgrip Wide-Angle Lens with Macro more than doubles the AoV of your smartphone’s native lens.

As a bonus, you also get a macro lens that fits behind a 49mm threaded mount that adds an additional 0.43x magnification to your smartphone lens for closer close-ups.

Another wide-angle/macro combination kit is the bitplay AllClip + Wide-Angle & Macro Lens. Compatible with smartphones 2.3 to 3.2" wide, this lens enables an additional 0.68x of wide-angle coverage along with 15x magnification for macro close-ups. When shooting wide, you can focus down to 0.9" from the lens, and 0.6" when shooting macro. (Note: Watch out for your shadow when you focus this close!)

The bitplay AllClip + Wide-Angle & Macro Lens with clip frame

Fisheye Auxiliary Lenses

If you need to go wider than ultra-wide, fisheye lens attachments are available that enable you to capture 170° full-frame rectilinear AoVs (less distorted) or 180°-plus circular fisheyes (Bozo-crazy circular distortion).

Circular fisheye photographs

If you’re looking for a fisheye lens attachment that will deliver “dramatically curved wide shots without vignetting,” the interestingly named Moment 15mm Fisheye Lens (170° AoV) is worth investigating. Featuring four glass elements (including an aspheric element) in three groups and multi-layer, low-flare, broadband antireflection coatings, the Moment 15mm fisheye lens attaches to your smartphone via a Moment Photo case or Moment Battery case, which are sold separately.

The Moment 15mm Fisheye Lens enables you to capture 170° AoV full-frame photographs with your smartphone.

Ulanzi’s 7.5mm Super Wide-Angle Fisheye Lens for Smartphones & Tablets takes 238° AoV pictures that can make you dizzy. Held in place by a well-designed lens clip, this lens can be used with smartphones and tablets with equal ease.

Ulanzi’s 7.5mm Super Wide-Angle Fisheye Lens for Smartphones & Tablets can produce fisheye photographs with 238° angles of view.

A fisheye attachment for my smartphone for under $20? Yup! The 7artisans Photoelectric Clip-On Fisheye Lens for Smartphones is an all-glass lens that clips onto your phone, enabling you to take fisheye pictures with a 238° AoV.

7artisans Photoelectric Clip-On Fisheye Lens for Smartphones enables you to take circular fisheye pictures with your smartphone for less than $20.

Auxiliary Macro Lens Attachments

The camera in your smartphone can focus in just so close. For times you need or want to get closer to smaller subjects, there are auxiliary macro lenses for smartphones that can get you within kissing distance of your subject. (Note: When taking pictures this close, avoid hornets with attitude and poisonous snakes.)

Auxiliary macro lenses enable you to take pictures a lot closer to your subject than your smartphone’s native camera.

The Moment Macro Lens is a 25mm (approx.) macro lens attachment that can focus down to about 0.73" for up to 10x magnification. Featuring all-metal construction, the Moment macro lens contains three multi-layer, anti-reflection coated glass elements in two groups. A lens cap, hood, and microfiber cloth are included. (Optional Moment Photo Case or Moment Battery Case is required.)

The Moment Macro Lens enables up to 10x magnification.

RhinoShield’s Wide + Macro Lens is a 2-in-1 wide-angle/macro lens attachment consisting of a pair of lenses that combined give you an AoV (115°) equivalent to an 18mm lens on a full-frame camera. Unscrew the lenses and you get a 4x magnification macro lens with an approximate focal length of 25mm. (Requires a RhinoShield Case and a RhinoShield phone-specific lens mount).

RhinoShield Wide + Macro Lens.

Auxiliary Telephoto Lens Attachments

Unlike macro lenses, which enable you to get closer to subjects typically within arm’s reach, telephoto lenses enable you to get closer to subjects you cannot approach closely.

Can’t get close enough to distant subjects? Try adding a telephoto lens attachment to your smartphone.

The Apexel 16x Telescope Lens with Handheld Tripod is visually speaking a real crowd-stopper. Designed for use with smartphones with screens measuring 2.17 to 3.35" wide, this handy optical device is essentially a monocular with a clip that enables you to attach it to your smartphone and zoom in to distant subjects at up to 16x magnification. And yes—without the phone it can be used as an everyday monocular!

The Apexel 16x Telescope Lens with Handheld Tripod

Another long ocular attachment is the iOgrapher 12x Telephoto Lens, which, as the name implies, adds about 12x magnification to your smartphone’s optical system. It is designed to screw into an iOgrapher smartphone case (optional), and a 37mm ring adapter and lens cloth are included.

iOgrapher 12x Telephoto Lens

Auxiliary 3D, 360°, and Anamorphic Lens Attachments

Auxiliary 3D, 360°, and anamorphic lens attachments are other options for imaging beyond the abilities of your smartphone’s native camera/lens system.

The Kula Bebe 3D Lens for Smartphones clips onto your smartphone, enabling you to capture 3D pictures with your smartphone. Included with each Kula Bebe 3D lens is a Kula CinemaBox for viewing your 3D photographs.

The Kula Bebe 3D Lens for Smartphones

Moondog Labs produces a full line of 1.33x anamorphic lens attachments that enable you to emulate the wide-screen movie theater viewing experience by capturing and recording videos with 2.40:1 aspect ratios.

Moondog Labs 1.33x Anamorphic Lenses

Shooting 360° photographs and videos used to be an expensive undertaking requiring bulky photographic gear. Not anymore. The PanoClip Snap-On 360° Lens for the iPhone X enables iPhone X owners to capture 360° imagery with a device that fits in your pocket when not in use.

The PanoClip Snap-On 360° Lens for the iPhone X

If all of the above is overwhelming, be assured all of the above-mentioned auxiliary lenses are available in kits containing wide and super-wide lenses, macros, and telephoto attachments for most smartphones and tablets.

Have you used auxiliary lenses on your smartphone? If so, how have they worked out for you? Let us know in the Comments section, below.

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