Mobile lenses have been around for a while now and over the years, smartphone cameras have gotten better and better. Now, in 2021, most phones have pretty awesome cameras with multiple sensors on them. So the big question is, are mobile lenses even worth using in 2021?
It is 2013: In an effort to improve upon mobile photography and videography, a company called Moment would appear on Kickstarter. The goal, was to revolutionize mobile photography and videography. The feedback was astounding, and they were easily able to earn the money on Kickstarter to release a lens attachment for phones. I don’t know if they were the first to make mobile lenses, but they certainly are the most well known and influential. This would result in a whole new market filled with mobile lens attachments.
Pricing and Competition:
This was eight years ago now and since then, Moment has gotten some competition but have still stayed in the lead. Now, these mobile lenses can be bought for as little as a few dollars and are more accessible than ever! The thing is… this change has also occurred in phones. You can get 2020 phones that cost under $200 and have three cameras! Also, most phones have multiple cameras and if they don’t, normally the main sensor has a fairly wide fov.
Inexpensive Mobile Lenses:
Now, there are other options. I have used lenses from two companies both of which cost under $30 (or used to). The first lens I used was the BullyEye lenses, and it expanded my photography options for the phone that I was taking photos with at the time (the Samsung J7 Sky Pro). I also used a set of Shuttermoon lenses which were even better!
I took my first ever macro photos using these lenses as you can see below:
At the time, this was awesome. The lenses genuinely improved the quality of my photos. Yes, there was vignetting and distortion, but my base camera would have that too.
It is 2021:
Last year, I made the upgrade to the Google Pixel 4a. I do not think that I ever put a lens on this phone. The truth is, phones have just gotten a lot better. I rarely need a wider fov than I already have. If I do need it, the selfie camera is pretty wide, so I just flip the phone around. The digital blur was just incredible and just replaced the macro lens for me.
I tried to get a similar shot to the one that I took using the lens. All that I had to do was just use the 2x high-res zoom on the Pixel and got this photo:
I do want to note that it is a slightly different time of the year, so the plant was a little bigger. I got a shot that looked more pleasing, had no distortion. Also, I added some vignetting and tried to bring out the green, so they could be compared fairly. Even with this, I got almost as close and got a similar looking photo all digitally.
I really do want to like mobile lenses, but they just doesn’t really give results that are better than your base camera. This whole blog post is actually based off of a video I saw from Linus Tech Tips.
In the video, they use an iPhone for the most part with a bit on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Now, the Moment lenses with a price tag of over $100 didn’t perform much better in photos and in certain situations, it performed worse. The issue with all mobile lenses is that they are a separate piece of glass going on top of the phone lens. Because of this, it results in distortion.
Basically, the conclusion is that the Moment lens performs better in videos. This can be applied to most mobile lenses. Because of the image processing that almost all phones use now, you will get amplified distortion in photos. In case you didn’t know, phones take multiple shots of different exposures and combine them very quickly to get one higher quality shot.
I do though sometimes use the lenses on my laptops’ camera to get a wider FOV for video conferencing. That has been somewhat useful in some cases. Other than that, I really don’t use these lenses anymore.
That brings me to the conclusion of this post. Mobile lenses, as they are today, are not very good in photography. Unless they can find a way to attach right to the phone sensor without any major gaps, then this might be the end for mobile lenses. I do want to note that there are still some scenarios where you might want to use a mobile lens. Of course, I mentioned video but for the Moment lenses at $100, it really isn’t worth the money. If you have a budget type phone, you might find mobile lenses useful. But, there are budget phones that use the image processing and have multiple sensors on them still under $200! The best example of this would be the Poco Phone M3. Another case would be if you have lost support and updates on your phone from a few years ago… The thing is, a 3rd party camera app could just fix that (or an AKP camera app) In my opinion, mobile lenses aren’t really worth it (especially at the $100 price point).
I really hope that you found this post helpful! I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Also, it would be amazing if you could add a follow to help me reach 50 follows here on WordPress! Thanks a ton for reading!
-Digital Wonders & Smiles
Also, I am going to try using a WordPress poll again. (this might only work in a browser)