As our smartphones become more powerful and versatile, many have turned to their go-to camera device and with good reason. It’s been said many times over that the best camera is the one you currently have on you — something I believe wholeheartedly. It wasn’t too long ago I came across these attachable lenses for mobile devices and became intrigued. Taking photos on your smartphone with cool software filters is all good and dandy, but did you know you can further expand the functionality of your smartphone camera, turning it into a sort of mini-mirrorless interchangeable lens camera? It’s true (kinda).
Recently, I came across these tiny fisheye, macro/wide angle, and telephoto lenses from Photojojo, and ever since I received my HTC One, I’ve been dying to try them out. Because the HTC One already features a wide angle lens and is capable of some pretty sweet macro shots, I opted only for the fisheye.
Each lens is magnetized and comes inside Photojojo’s packaging (you can buy similar un-branded lenses from Amazon for much cheaper), along with thin metal washers with adhesive on one side, to stick to your smartphone. The washers are used so that your magnetized lens will stay put on your phone and I should point out that these washers wont work on every smartphone, as Android camera holes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and protrusions. For the HTC One, they not only fit perfectly, they match the silver version to a tee. The washers are also thin enough that they don’t interfere with cases, something I would have had a huge problem with otherwise (whew).
Before (left), after (right)
As you can see from the above comparison — the left picture being a normal, uncropped shot from the One and the right after the lens has been attached — the fisheye lens does exactly what it advertises. Sure, you begin to lose some details along the edges (where things get really distorted) but that’s to be expected. These are meant for quick snapshots to have fun with, taking interesting pictures of your friends, family or environments in ways you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise (you hipsters, you). Yes, there are some black corners you’ll have to put up with, but those can be easily cropped out. While you wont get the full “fisheye” effect from a crop, it does create a super wide angle 16mm lens equivalent (or close enough) and from your smartphone no less.
The washers aren’t anodized, so they wont match the finish on many smartphones and can be a bit of an eyesore when they don’t. In fact, there’s a good chance these wont even fit on your smartphone, depending on the make. Also, the lens doesn’t stick as nicely to the “universal” washer, as it does the iPhone-specific one, which means if you’re not careful, your lens could fall to the pavement and shatter. Something to definitely be careful of. Video with the fisheye lens provides for some interesting results. Of course, the black corners in the video can’t be easily cropped out making it a little less practical for everyday use but in combination with some gif apps, or Vine, could be fun none the less.
Even for $20, I’m still more than happy with my purchase. The lens gave me exactly the result I was looking for, adding to the range of shots I could squeeze out of my smartphone. The fact that Amazon offers all 3 lenses for under $10 makes this an almost instant buy for anyone even remotely interested in outfitting their smartphone with some sweet glass. It goes without saying that these lenses aren’t going to be for everyone, but for those that love capturing the world around them in fun new ways — even with their smartphone — I think you’re going to love ‘em.