Every Smartphone has a camera, and those cameras have become almost ridiculously sophisticated. Once, phone cameras were novelties that could take VGA quality photos to send to buddies via text messages. Now they are multi-megapixel systems with sophisticated software that can simulate many features of a DSLR camera. Except that the lens is still a little thing and can only do so much.
So this why there have been the addition of attachable lenses for cameras. Previously such devices were phone specific, but now with the use of soft jaw clamps they are universal. This means no losing your optical toys when you upgrade phones. We have already carried and reviewed the Smartphone Microscope, as well as the Macro and Fish Eye Lens sets, both useful additions for your phone camera. Now we have the Smartphone 8X Telescope Lens and are going to review it!
First, here are the pieces you get:
The telescope lens is a bit larger than the microscope, or at least it is longer. This isn’t a surprise, one does not get optical magnification at a distance without some space. Anyway, we threaded the body onto the jaw. The threads are plastic and the jaw is a bit stiffer than the other optical camera lenses we have tested. This is probably a good thing since it is a bit larger than those items.
Attaching the lens to the camera is the usual trick of clamping the jaw onto the phone as close to the lens as you can get, then adjusting the lens until it is squarely over the camera lens. The good news is that this is a bit easier with the telescope lens than with the microscope attachment as there was no vignetting with this lens.
So how did it work? Well we aimed at a far point in the store with the camera having no digital magnification on. This is what it looked like, telescope lens off.
The target was that purple sign on the rack. Now with the telescope lens attached:
The image now appears much closer using the lens. There is some blurriness at the top and bottom of the image and this isn’t too much of a surprise – it is hard to translate a circular lens into a rectangular video format, also the lens has a mechanism for focusing and I did not employ it.
Let try outisde with a much further object and the lens focus set to infinity. Here was a convenient construction crane with a flag:
Now we attached the telescope lens to the phone:
Just for giggles I cranked up the phones digital magnification. It couldn’t handle it. I don’t think this was the telescope lens’ fault. I couldn’t hold it still at this magnification:
Shakiness is an issue with the telescope lens, and it was hard to hold still at times. The system may benefit with a smartphone camera tripod but didn’t have one available.
One final thing we tested was close focus.
We were able to get some focus at about 3 feet. Not the best images (but a blister packed item is not the best target either).
So the telescope lens does work, and while it might have some edge issues it probably would benefit more from a small smartphone tripod.
The Universal Smartphone Telescope Camera Lens is just $19.95.