How to Choose Your First Lenses for Your SmartPhone Camera

These days it’s not so much of a stretch to say that while you are our traveling or just going about your daily life the camera you have with you is likely the one built into your phone. Additionally, the image quality from these tiny devices is just getting better and better in almost every respect. The limiting factor for a lot of these phones though is they are stuck with a single lens, with your only way of changing your view being an image quality destroying digital zoom. Some newer higher end phones are now coming with two rear cameras, one with a wider lens and one a more telephoto – but even these are extremely limiting compared to what we as photographers are used to with our interchangeable lens cameras.

The solution here is accessory lens systems for your smart phone. These are the very things that many of us scoffed at in the recent past, but as mobile photography has become more popular and with more people wanting to be serious about it – the quality of these add-on lenses as grown significantly. But what should you be thinking about when you are looking to buy these accessory lenses? You know how to consider camera lenses, but phone add-on lenses?

Have no fear – We’ve got you covered.

What Are You Planning To Shoot?

Is there something in particular that you are wanting to be able to take better images of with your phone? Maybe better landscapes, or better macro images? This is key in knowing where to look for your accessory lens(s) because with most accessory lenses being prime lenses, each one will really only be good capturing images of certain things.

As well, if you plan on wanting some versatility in what you shoot, investing a specific lens accessory system is more advisable than in one particular lens.

Convenience and Portability

On the cheaper end of the spectrum, many of these accessory lenses are able to just be carried in a bag and clipped onto your phone when you want to use it. These are great for those who just want to be able to grab and go without having to remember much. But these lenses generally don’t offer the same level of image quality as larger options which require a special case or mounting solution.

The downside to the bulkier solutions being that the specialized cases and mounts add bulk and heft to your phone. This can make it less wieldy and more cumbersome, for sure less fun to just grab and shoot with. As well, these solutions are generally much more expensive, due to the special mounting solution required for each individual phone model in order to hold the lens in the correct place over your phone camera.

How much does improved versatility and quality mean to you?

As we have eluded to above, the accessory lens game has moved beyond those $20 units people find with plastic elements and questionable image quality. You can spend as much or as little on these accessory lenses as you feel comfortable doing – so figure out how much you want this, how much you need this, and then try and give yourself a budget and stick to it.

Our recommendations for phone lenses

So now that we have given you some points to really consider when you set out to invest in your first smart phone lenses, now is the point in the post where we will share some recommendations. We are going to break this down into two categories, Work and Play. Basically if you are wanting the best image quality, build quality and usability with little worry to price, these will be for you. If you are more or less just looking for some fun add-ons for your phone, or are just wanting to dip your toes into more serious smartphone photography, than the play category will be for you.

Work Recommendations

  • Exolens PRO w/ Optics by Zeiss  – [amazon_textlink asin=’B01NBK5XZL’ text=’Exolens’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’885723f0-6b4f-11e7-af6f-03caaad76f89′] (Our Review)
  • Moment Lenses – [amazon_textlink asin=’B01N64F8NM’ text=’Moment’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ba8de878-6b4f-11e7-ab48-2990e6c90b12′] (Our Review)
  • Olloclip CORE – [amazon_textlink asin=’B01N0KWT0I’ text=’olloclip CORE’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’60a2bbc5-6b51-11e7-954a-97bd1b752a82′]

Play Recommendations

  • Xenvo Wide Angle Macro Kit – [amazon_textlink asin=’B01A6D2JVI’ text=’Xenvo Wide Angle Macro Kit’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f16fc85a-6b50-11e7-8152-399bb7005258′]
  • Exolens 2 – [amazon_textlink asin=’B016XBLSPA’ text=’Exolens 2′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’01c83385-6b51-11e7-868c-5f55004e47b8′]
  • Olloclip 4-IN-1 – [amazon_textlink asin=’B01FIFLL5Y’ text=’olloclip 4-IN-1′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7c1d2fad-6b51-11e7-ab9c-e9f953bc7d78′]

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.