Macro ("close-up") Photography With an IPhone

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Introduction: Macro ("close-up") Photography With an IPhone

Get much closer to subjects than usual simply by adding a low-cost macro lens attachment to your iPhone's exisiting camera lens -- with no risk of damage.


Step 1: Get a "pocket" Magnifier


Mine was sold as a Jeweller's Loupe. It magnifies 8X. I bought it from an Optometrist. You can also get them in model shops, craft centres and hobby outlets.

Step 2: Cover the IPhone Lens With the Magnifier

The magnifier must be right up close to the iPhone lens. My iPhone has a silicone case for better grip. I push the magnifier hard up against the hole in it. Then there's no risk of scratching that slippery phone casing or, even worse, dropping everything!

Step 3: Move the Camera and Magnifier Together

Go in close to your subject until you see what you want. Take it. Enjoy!

Here you see the business end of the magnifier and, right in the centre, the iPhone's own little lens. I used a mirror for this shot to prove it really does work.

Step 4: Notes

Work in bright light. The extra optics lose light, so you don't want blurry shots from camera shake. An app like Gorillacam may help with hand-held photos. Mini-tripods are good too but they tie you down a bit with fast moving things like insects.

Make sure the magnifier is centrally positioned over the iPhone's lens, or you will risk cutting off the corners of your pictures. What you see is what you get.

There's no reason why any phone camera should not give similar results.

If you prefer to work single-handed, use Blu-Tak or simillar to fix magnifier temporarily.

Step 5: Distances

frollard suggested I show the kind of working distance this setup gives. As you can see here, it's very close, so take care not to shadow your own shot.

Step 6: Here's the IPhone Shot From Step 5

In Step 5 the iPhone 3GS was "told" to focus on the Roman numerals at twelve o'clock (XII).

Step 7: Alternative Design of Magnifier

This is a lightweight plastic design of magnifier. It is easy to fix to the back of the iPhone using Blu-Tak or similar. This kind is sometimes sold as a watchmakers loupe (lupe). They are also used for inspecting printed circuit boards (PCBs) and woven fabrics like fine cotton or silk.

Now you can work with one hand free.

Step 8: Versatile Loupe

This design from Bausch & Lomb (USA) has two independent lenses. Each lens has a different optical power. You can use them individually or combine them for maximum effect.

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    59 Comments

    I hate that iphone camera can't zoom and the accessories are so expensive until I found this: the Band in the link is easy to carry and cheap.... http://artofcreativelife.com/easy-macro-cell-lens-band/

    2 replies

    That looks neat, thank you.
    Cheers,
    Peter

    nice... I can't wait to try this. I hope it works on my Samsung :)

    1 reply

    Almost any magnifying lens held close to any smartphone lens will work. Good luck, Peter.

    Finally got the macro lens adapter for the iPhone designed. It ended up a lot cheaper then the iPhone 4 one because it uses less material. $8 for adapter and $4 for lens.
    http://www.shapeways.com/model/864992/iphone-5-macro-lens.html?li=modelEdit

    1 reply

    Good work. One day I'll get into 3D printing.

    An example:

    http://peterbryenton.typepad.com/phi_one/2011/08/ladybird.html

    2 replies

    Ladybird - that was from Woolworths, if I'm correct. Always liked Ladybird clothes.
    The pictures are great.

    Thank you. Yes, clothes -- and books too of course.

    Excuse me for being a noob, but do you just hold this to the phone lens and let the phone do the focussing or do you have to move the loupe in and out to find focus?

    1 reply

    Yes, hold the loupe really still, right over the phone's camera lens, then let the phone camera do the focussing. You need to get the whole setup near to your subject. Try it with the loupe and your eye first (no phone) to see how this measures out distance-wise. Then phone simply replaces your eye.
    Good luck.

    I went one better and shot a quick "macro" video comparison.

    Here are the results.

    http://vimeo.com/22650356

    2 replies

    Lens from a flatbed scanner? Nice. Off to the recycling centre!

    Good job. I see your steel rule has been well used ;)

    If "The best camera in the world is the camera you have with you" is true then you've just improved the Best Camera In The World. Nice work! Congratulations and thanks.

    1 reply

    Thanks very much :)

    I'm still exploring the photo apps, as you may see if you visit my blog from :

    http://www.brypix.com

    THANK YOU!! This will save me $26.00!! I almost bought a macro lens for my iPhone4 but decided to check here first! Glad I did ! I'm gonna tweek this idea a bit and post my finished project. Lettme know what you think. Thanks again!