Does the artist in you long to experiment with photography this summer but you don’t want to spend a fortune on fancy lenses? You’re in luck. Consumer Reports just tested inexpensive specialty lenses that go right on your smartphone. The results can be quite good.
Of the four brands Consumer Reports tried out, Photojojo’s are the least expensive. Each of its lenses goes for $20. Lensbaby makes a soft-focus lens for $60. Olloclip offers two lenses—wide-angle and telephoto—in a kit for $100. And the Mobi lens has a nice wide-angle lens on its own for $30. That’s a far cry from traditional lenses, which can set you back hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
There are a couple of drawbacks with these lenses. For starters, they cover up the phone’s flash. You can work around that by adding a flash like the Xuma Mobile LED. It costs $35 and has two different brightness settings as well as a slow strobe.
Consumer Reports says don’t expect perfect results from these lenses. You won’t get professional features like high clarity on the edges of the photos taken with the fish-eye lens, or image stabilization, which compensates for your hand’s slight movements.
The lenses Consumer Reports tried out will fit most iPhones, but not as many fit Android phones. So before you buy, make sure the lenses are compatible with your phone. And keep in mind you will have to remove the phone’s case to use these accessories.