Making Botanical Cellphone Macros

I recently purchased the wide angle/macro lens to use with my iPhone. I bought it specifically for the macro lens as I find that the built-in camera lens is wide enough. There are other cellphone lenses available; however, I bought this one because it was affordable at $20 for the pair and looked to be of good quality.


Japanese Maple and Persicaria virginiana flower

Here’s how it works:

It comes with both lenses screwed together. You use both together to shoot wide angle shots.

Left: A circular, metal sticker is applied to the back of your phone. When you want to use the lens you simply pop it into place and it sticks via a magnet. Right: You must unscrew the top piece of the lens to take macro images. My only real complaint with the lens is that I don’t intend to use the wide angle portion, but am forced to carry both together in order to prevent damage. Unscrewing the tiny pieces is slow and fidgety work. For that reason I haven’t bothered to venture beyond my own backyard garden with the lens and I don’t see myself using it in the wintertime when I am further burdened by icy fingers and thick gloves.

‘Red Gem’ Marigold and Borage

As you can see from my images, the macros are indeed very close. The lens must be held right up to the object you want to photograph. Keeping a steady hand and proper focus is no easy task, especially on a windy day when photographing small flowers.

California Poppy

Squash Blossom

Still, the images it can make are fantastic. I’m really blown away by the quality of the photos that I can take with a phone these days! It’s so great, I no longer think of my phone by its intended use, but as a pocket digital camera with a lot of fancy features.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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12 thoughts on “Making Botanical Cellphone Macros

  1. That is very, very cool! I must say that after 4 years I upgraded to a smartphone mainly because I was tired to carry a phone and a camera everywhere. I’m still amazed how easy to it is to take and edit photos from a phone. Happy that the lenses work on android as well.

  2. Talk about inventive….I think having a smart phone for this use would be the only reason I would get one. Being attached ot the world constantly—not so much.

    Excellent shots!

    • One way I’ve avoided that is by setting limits around time and not giving my phone # out to clients unless it is absolutely necessary. I know people that get calls at all times and it really impedes on their personal life.

  3. These are really neat. I’ve seen some blog posts where people use a droplet of water on the lens to get macro shots. Most recently, I saw someone hack a maco lens by attaching the glass from a laser pointer to their phone’s camera.

    I recently upgraded to an Andriod phone, and while the camera is junk, I’m blown away with the ability to take panorama photos with it. I used to have to use a tripod, three photos and editing software to stitch a pano, but now it can be done from within the phone. The future is awesome.

    • I’d be a bit wary of putting water on my phone. But I get freaked out about breaking the phone because… expensive. I figure $20 is worth not risking it.

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