Thanks to smartphones, more people have access to cameras than ever before, and smartphone cameras have never been better. In fact, they’ve improved so much that even discerning photographers have grown more comfortable using them in place of their professional camera gear (in certain situations). In Creative Photography 101, for example, Pye Jirsa uses an iPhone to capture and edit all of the images featured in the workshop. With this advancement in smartphone camera tech, we’ve also seen improved third party lenses. As great as smartphone cameras have become, they still lack the range of application you get with professional cameras and interchangeable lenses. These third party lenses help level the playing field a bit. Our goal here today is to introduce you to some of the best lenses for smartphones and help you find the best lens for your needs. Let’s get to it!
A Few Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Lens For Your Smartphone
Before you open up your wallet and jump right into buying what you think might be the best lenses for smartphones, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you want it for? Knowing how you will use your smartphone lens(es) will help you decide which lens(es) you need. They come in a variety of sizes, focal lengths, and price points.
- Do you plan to capture more portraits, scenic landscape shots, or cute snaps of your cat? Different lenses do different things. Wide angle lenses might work well for capturing epic landscapes or POV shots, but they’re not the best lenses to use for close up portraits due to lens distortion. Basically, the same rules hold true for photo lenses across the board, whether for your DSLR or mirrorless camera or your smartphone.
- Do you want quality or convenience? While some of the lower end smartphone lenses are super convenient and easy to clip on to your phone, they lack the quality output you’ll get from some of the higher end lenses with more complicated mounting systems. You’ll have to weigh the available options based on what’s most important to you and then find a lens that balances your expectations for quality and convenience.
- How much do you want to spend? If your budget is set in stone, then that will automatically narrow your search for the best lens that you can buy. That said, it’s probably a good idea to set a budget at the outset!
Best Smartphone Compatible Lenses
Here’s a quick roundup of a diverse range of smartphone compatible lenses to help you decide which are best for you.
This is one of my personal favorites on the list, and I’m not alone. The Moment Macro Lens regularly earns recognition as one of the top smartphone lenses on the market. As the name implies, this specialty lens will give your smartphone macro photography capabilities with a 25mm focal length. In the photo above, you can see its removable light diffuser, which minimizes shadows as you capture images from as close a distance as one inch! If only lens makers could achieve that minimum working distance with a standard DSLR or mirrorless camera macro lens! It’s also worth noting that you can use the Moment Pro Camera App for advanced manual control.
Although a separate case is required, the Moment Macro Lens is compatible with several smartphone models, including iPhone 6-XS Max, Pixel-3 XL, Galaxy Note 8, 9, S8-S10+, OnePlus 6, 6T.
Boasting a 20-40x zoom range, this lens is great for those looking to add quality telephoto capabilities to their smartphone camera. It’s the perfect addition to your smartphone for photographing sports, birds, or anything else you want to crop into from a distance.
This specialized lens features dual adjustments (focus ring and zoom ring) to get clear photos from long distances. Rotating the focus ring will allow you to fine tune your focus and capture get sharper pictures, and you can use the zoom ring to zoom up to 40x. As an added bonus, a small (but decent) tripod is included with the lens to lend extra stability to your shots.
The Bitplay All Clip Mini Photography Kit gives you access to a versatile HD wide angle lens, fitting almost any type of smartphone or tablet with its adjustable width up to 16mm. This kit includes an HD Wide Angle Lens. From a quality perspective, this scratch-proof lens scores high in both form and function, boasting a sleek design and quality aluminum build. The lens barrel literally stands out and the glass includes an aspheric element. As an added bonus, the clip works with all eight of Bitplay’s available lenses, plus three lens filters (all sold separately).
Overall, this is a solid lens that provides great image quality. When used on a rear-facing camera, it gives a wide perspective that is incredibly impressive.
Of all the options on this list, this kit (which comes with four lenses and other extras) earns the superlative of most affordable. The super low price point alone makes it a great option for beginners!
Here’s a look at what’s included with your purchase:
- Macro Lens
- Telephoto lens providing up to 20x magnification
- Carrying case
- Cleaning cloth
- Phone holder
- Micro tripod
- Clamp for attaching to your phone
This kit might not offer the best specs or the highest quality when compared to its competitors, but the cost makes it an outstanding smartphone lens set for the small price of $30. I would recommend this smartphone lens kit to anyone on a tight budget who is looking to buy the best lenses for smartphones.
Some Other Options in the Search for the Best Lenses for Smartphones
In addition to the lens options listed above, here are some other smartphone lenses you should check out. Each comes in a different price point and offers features unique to the brand, but all of them represent an upgrade from your standard smartphone lens:
A smartphone lens is a great buy for any photographer, no matter your experience. By adding one of the best lenses for smartphones to your camera phone, even your walk-up shots are going to improve. Determining the best smartphone lens depends on your specific needs and how much you’re willing to pay. For beginners looking to experiment with new tools, the Mactrem Kit is incomparable when considering cost. If you want something more technical, then the Bitplay kit might be best. Be sure to explore all of the options listed above more more detailed information.
There’s still no replacement for education and experience when it comes to taking better photos, but this gear will elevate your photography and give you more creative freedom as you continue on in your photography journey.