Lenses a'plenty: Breaking down which mobile lenses work best for what you're shooting!
If you're someone who's been looking to get into mobile photography for a while, or even just someone who's interesting in upping their social media picture game, then having a mobile lens or two is a great way to effortlessly switch things up, give you a new perspective, and take your dull day-to-day photos to something super unique and interesting to look at!
It can be difficult to know which lenses are best for shooting what (especially when you're using them with your iPhone), but there are a number of standard iPhoneography lenses that are readily available online or at your local photography shop that'll change the way you shoot.
Here's a breakdown of which mobile lenses work best depending on what you're shooting!
Fisheye lenses produce some of the most instantly recognizable footage and images out there. The distinct, severe curve to the lens produces almost a bubble-like effect, imitating the feel of looking through a peep-hole on a door into a larger, convex world.
Nowadays, you see fisheye lens footage in everything from commercials, to YouTube videos, to major Hollywood movies thanks to devices like the GoPro, but in its early existence, fisheye lenses accompanied footage of extreme sports and outdoor activities, giving people watching the footage a feeling like they were right in on the action; a poisson POV, if you will.
If you're looking to shoot with a fisheye lense, capturing nature footage and outdoor scenery can be the golden ticket to phenomenal photos and video. The lens' ability to capture an incredibly wide area makes nature shots compelling as your eye is always being drawn to one area of the screen or another because there's just so much to see and take in.
Fisheye lenses are also really incredible options if you want to capture footage at a concert, or in a large crowd, or at a big family gathering, or even to simply show off a large space – because the fisheye expands on what your iPhone camera can see, it's a phenomenal tool for taking in a lot of action and detail without it looking forced or distracting.
If you took a look at fisheye photos and footage and went, 'Nope. Way too… bubble-like, distorted, and weird for me", then a wide-angle lens might be a better option to consider if you want a lens that alters your point of view and camera parameters a little bit, but don't want it to look like you're gazing through the literal eyes of a fish.
Wide-angle lenses are great tools to have in your mobile photography arsenal because they are so versatile. They can be used while shooting everything from selfies to fantastic looking food at your fave restaurant to group shots with friends, stunning sunsets, and nature imagery.
If you're someone who wants to shoot slo-mo video or something time lapsed, wide-angle lenses are really phenomenal options to consider, and depending on the quality of the lens itself, you can capture details and specifics your iPhone might miss if you're shooting in certain settings.
Macro lenses can seem pretty intimidating for people who aren't terribly familiar with how they work or are confused by how the heck they can be used to shoot anything in the slightest – I mean, they don't work unless you're super close up to your subject, and they're totally useless in 80% of photography situations, so why even bother?!
While macro lenses seem like a bit of a niche, these mobile attachments for your iPhone are actually incredibly useful in more than just a few photography ways:
- Macro lenses are incredible for taking pictures of anything that has a lot of detail in it – an intricate makeup design, a broken glass bottle, a dead insect. By forcing you to get up-close and personal, you see the subject from a completely different perspective, helping the unique beauty of it to shine through!
- Macro lenses are incredible tools for reading small print or capturing small print on an important document for later. If you're worried about the ingredients of that protein bar you're eating and want to check up on the gluten but don't have your eyeglasses around, attach a macro lens and you'll be reading clearly in an instant. OK, so maybe you could just use the Zoom feature on your iPhone, but you get the point.
- Macro lenses are the mobile lenses that force you to get the most creative and change your perspective! Why not set up your iPhone and macro lens and capture the intricate movement of a highway of worker ants? Why not teach children at the daycare you work at about different textures and fabrics by showing the difference between velvet, cheesecloth, and craft store diamonds while streaming the image on your phone to a larger monitor? Why not take a snapshot of that fancy sushi dinner you just had, but really emphasize the way the light shines through those tiny orange bulbs of caviar?
Macro lenses may seem like a strange, specific, hard-to-fit niche, but if you get creative, they can be used for a billion possibilities while shooting.
If you're too far away from a subject, zooming in with your iPhone isn't always the best thing to do: it can make your image look blurry, distort your subject, and bring the overall quality of your picture way, way down. That's why using a telephoto lens can be a great alternative for capturing mobile photos from a distance.
I'll be honest, shooting with a telephoto lens on your iPhone is way different than shooting with a telephoto lens on a DSLR. The quality is way, way poorer on an iPhone, no matter how stellar the mobile telephoto lens you've got has promised to be. That being said, there's no reason that you shouldn't pick up a telephoto lens and play with it if you're feeling curious!
By attaching a telephoto lens to your iPhone, you can easily capture shots from a distance, making candid shots and city-line shots ideal for this style of photography. You'll have a hard time capturing selfies and social media-worthy food porn shots, though, and shooting video can be pretty difficult if you're not super comfortable with the telephoto lens.
Which lens would you shoot with most?
Are you a big fan of the fisheye look, or would you prefer to try experimenting with some macro shots? Or would you rather shoot some killer wide-angle group shots with friends?
Let us know in the comments below which lens you'd pick to shoot your mobile photography masterpieces!
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Cella writes for iMore on social and photography. She's a true crime enthusiast, bestselling horror author, lipstick collector, buzzkill, and Sicilian. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @hellorousseau
This was a great article explaining how the different focal lengths of lenses work. I'd love to see an article about which lenses are good for phones with a case vs without a case.
The distortion on that wide angle shot is so severe, it almost looks like it was shot with a fisheye.
would love to know where that large/gold kaleidoscope lens is from!!
Hi there! I picked that one up at Urban Outfitters :) it's called a fly-eye lens
Thanks! I bought the pink one!