I love macro lenses for phones, but I don’t love how close you have to get to your subject to use them.
Firstly, your proximity to the subject casts shadows, and second, the focus plane is super narrow which makes a large portion of your photo out of focus.
When Apexel contacted me to test their 100mm macro, I was super intrigued because, supposedly, it doesn’t have these issues. So, let’s see what the Apexel 100mm Macro Lens can do.
Understanding Smartphone Macro Photography
Before we discuss the specifics of the Apexel macro lens, we first must understand the limitations of macro photography on a smartphone and a little bit of vocabulary.
Macro photography is really just taking photos of super small thingsg a macro lens, and this means that you can capture flowers, textures, branding – really anything the size of your fingernail. So, I went to Colonial Williamsburg, where they pay a lot of money for landscaping to take advantage of all the potential macro subjects.
I used the BeastCam Pro Camera app from BeastGrip to take my photos for this post and accompanying video for a few reasons.
- I can get a gauge on the working distance by putting the focus at the closest point possible
- I can shoot in RAW which will allow me to optimally edit the photos
The BeastCam app gives me more control than the native camera app on my iPhone. If you’re considering adding a smartphone macro lens, then it may be worth considering a similar third-party app too.
Why Mobile Macro Photography?
Macro photography on a traditional camera requires an additional lens that isn’t intuitive to use. A mobile macro lens, on the other hand, is inexplicably easy to use. It is literally as simple as twisting the lens into place and hitting the shutter button.
Learn more about mobile macro photography. Prefer to learn via video? Then check out this video all about macro photography on a smartphone.
While the smaller sensor size on smartphone cameras is a minor drawback, the benefit of being able to capture those tiny details with so little effort makes purchasing a macro lens for your smartphone a no-brainer.
What is Optical Zoom?
Optical zoom is essentially what happens when you use a magnifying glass or a telescope and is not to be confused with digital zoom which is really just image cropping. Most phones offer impressive digital zoom capabilities but you should never zoom on your smartphone.
By adding a macro lens to your smartphone, you’re usually getting between 10x and 20x optical zoom. All that optical zoom means that you’re going to get super close-up shots that are crisply in focus.
What is Working Distance?
The biggest thing to note when getting into mobile macro photography is in regards to working distance. Working distance is the minimum distance you have to be from your subject to get focus. For most macro lenses the working distance is around one inch but for the Apexel 100mm Macro Lens the working distance is closer to two and a half inches. The improved working distance allows you to capture photos and videos without casting a harsh shadow on them.
Reviewing the Apexel 100mm Macro Lens
According to Apexel’s website, this thing should work with 98% of mobile phones – I tested it with my iPhone 11 Pro and Google Pixel 4a with 5G to see. The Apexel 100mm Macro Lens performed exceptionally well when attached to both iPhone and Android devices.
With your purchase of the Apexel macro lens, you’ll receive:
- the lens
- a cleaning cloth
- a carrying case
- a clip-on mount
- some instructions and advertisements
For less than $40 the Apexel 100mm macro lens is seriously impressive. Both photos and videos were clear and without distortion. The bokeh – blurred background – was tasteful and not at all overdone. When I compared Moment and Sandmarc’s macro lenses I did notice that the background blur was fairly harsh. If I were in the market for my first smartphone macro lens then I’d be ecstatic to receive the Apexel 100mm Macro Lens.
Full transparency, I did attach the Apexel macro lens to the threaded mount on my BeastCage mounting system from BeastGrip to test out the lens on my iPhone 11 Pro which made using the lens a little easier. I have a bit of a vendetta against clip-on mounting systems. I did use the clip-on mount to attach the Apexel 100mm Macro Lens to my Google Pixel 4a with 5G, however, and was impressed with the design and usability of the mount. I was able to easily attach and remove the mount, and you can move the mounting plate around to make it optimal for your device. All in all, an impressive design that’s more impressive than any other clip-on mount I’ve ever used.
Are There Other Macro Lenses for iPhone and Android?
Of course! While the Apexel 100mm Macro Lens is a great lens to start with, there are plenty of other impressive options to consider. The Moment 10x Macro Lens, for example, is more expensive but comes with that Moment peace of mind.
If you aren’t sold on the Apexel macro lens, then give our guide to the best mobile macro lenses a read. What are your thoughts on the Apexel 100mm Macro Lens? I’ve been more than impressed, but I’d love to respond to your comments and questions in the comment section below.