I was talking about photography with a friend the other day, and he said that he hates that he will be driving down the road and see something that he would like to take a picture of, but he doesn’t have his camera with him. I agreed.
We do have his iPhone and my Galaxy S5, but as you can imagine, most “car shots” need a telephoto setting which, if you have read my posts about smartphones, leaves a lot to be desired.
Most recently I posted a piece about the Moto Z droid phone with the Hasselblad True Zoom camera attachment. I took shots with the phone zoomed to max and with the True Zoom at the same approximate zoom. The resulting shots were rather dramatic for the True Zoom, but typical for the average smartphone.
Mostly because I am curious, I found a telephoto attachment for the smartphone and since it was under $20 I bought it. I did the same type photos, as were done with the Droid, with the telephoto lens on the Samsung Galaxy S5 with the following results:
Well, not too bad but ….
First, although this “Universal HD Zoom 8x lens telephoto lens” was advertised (on Amazon) as an 8x Zoom, when it is actually an 8x fixed Telephoto. It has a focus ring, but it appears to have little effect on the focus (but could be my eyes). The major thing here is how it attaches to the smartphone, and its stability.
The adapter is mounted by means of a clamp. It is not easily opened, unless you have fairly good hand strength, and this also makes it difficult to align with the smartphone lens. The other thing that is poor is the stability of the position. If you turn the focus ring too hard, the lens can twist off of center, and looses alignment with the main lens. In addition, turning the focus ring too far can unscrew it from the mounting clip. The instructions tell you to unscrew the telephoto from the clamp, mount and align the clamp and then screw the lens back into the clamp. That makes it rather slow and laborious … not a fast solution to taking a quick pic.
The last thing is camera shake. I had difficulty hand holding this set-up and minimizing camera shake. With bright lighting and fast shutter speeds (use higher ISO settings), it is possible to get a picture without built-in assisted anti-shake. Since the size of the resulting picture on the smartphone is small, it is difficult to see the in-focus and out-of-focus portions of the final picture. It probably needs a tripod for most images, except …. well that doesn’t make it a fast solution to taking a quick pic either.
As can be seen above, the 8x image looks pretty good, especially since it was a hand held exposure. (The Galaxy S5 has image stabilizing software that does a great job.) Other smartphones, from other manufacturers, according to reviews on the Net, are not always as effective with their stabilization.
In addition to the above, I went one step further and took a picture with the telephoto lens and zoomed further with the digital zoom of the smartphone just to see what it would look like at various settings. The results were abysmal. The digitally zoomed shot was uniformly blurred and distorted which can only be attributed to the digital zoom and not camera shake.
You will learn this yourself, but if you have set your smartphone to take a shot when you tap the screen, turn it off with these lens adapters. The clamp puts pressure on the screen and causes the shutter to trip randomly.
I looked through many on-line listing trying to find an actual Zoom lens, but each one that I found was, as this one, a telephoto not a zoom.
How about Wide Angle ?
I also got a set of lenses that were listed for Fisheye, Macro and Wide Angle. The listing showed 3 lenses, but when the package arrived it had a Fisheye and Wide Angle but no Macro. There were no instructions, but the pictures on the box indicated that the Macro function was the phone itself.
Although I tried several different shots, the Fisheye did not produce a typical Fisheye distortion image.
I used the wide angle adapter with the following result:
The adapter, shown below, did work as a Wide Angle lens, but suffered from the same problem of twisting. In this case however, it seemed to stay in place over the main lens and was relative easy to use.
I would give the Wide Angle Adapter a grade of 95% while the Telephoto is about a 65% for overall usability. Both are usable in some circumstances and since they are cheap you might want to get a pair of these for your glove compartment. I recently saw an ad for the whole kit for something under $25.
I also found that to minimize the jostling of the lenses and their use after placement, it was easier to use the voice control of the camera (again Samsung Galaxy S5) by giving a command through the headphone microphone. I have written about this previously. Again not real conducive to quick pics.
Do you have other ideas or thoughts? Let me know.