A telephoto lens, also known as a tele, increases the focal length of your camera. Once attached to your smartphone, you can shoot distant objects with greater detail because of the optical zoom that comes with the higher focal length.
First, read our quick explanation between tele lenses and the main lens on your smartphone. We’ve also listed a few ways tele lenses can help you with your Android photography. To help you become the best Android photographer you can be, we we’ve also rounded up the best tele lenses on the market.
Telephoto Lens Optical Zoom vs Smartphone Digital Zoom
Telephoto lenses create optical zoom, meaning they change the focal length of the lens. Think of a pair of binoculars or telescopes – they also use optical zoom to help you see things that are far away with exceptional clarity.
Average focal lengths for smartphone tele lenses usually range from 58mm to 200mm and are what’s known as a medium telephoto lens. If a tele lens has a focal length over 300mm, it’s sometimes called a super-telephoto lens. The latter is not commonly compatible with smartphones outside of the realm of mobile astrophotography.
Most smartphone lenses, on the other hand, use digital zoom when a user zooms. We’ve talked about the differences between optical and digital zoom before – the short version is that digital zoom isn’t “zooming” at all, it’s the same as taking a full-size picture and cropping out the parts you “zoomed” past. The image still has the same resolution as the full size version, which usually results in blurry photos.
Some flagship phones, like the iPhone 12 Pro, have inbuilt tele lenses with real optical zoom. For most smartphones, however, you’ll need a clip-on or mounted tele lens for real optical zoom ability.
The Top Uses of a Telephoto Lens
Brings Far-Away Objects Closer
Sometimes, you can’t get as close as you’d like to your subject. This is where telephoto lenses come into play.
It’s handy if you’re taking pictures of wildlife, cityscapes, or when you’re standing on the sidelines of a sports activity. Using a telephoto lens can help you get closer to the action while staying at a safe distance.
Makes Subjects Feel at Ease
Another benefit of using a telephoto lens is that it can help put people at ease. Have them take a walk or do something they enjoy. Then, stand far away and use your telephoto lens to capture them when they’re relaxed and at ease.
Enhances Blurred Backgrounds
Do you know those professional-looking photos where the subject is in clear focus, while the background is blurred out? You can get that beautiful effect with a telephoto lens.
This technique is referred to as bokeh, which is Japanese for ‘blur.’ It creates visual appeal and typically used more in portrait and wildlife photography.
The Best Tele Lenses for Android: Product Review
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Moment Tele Lens: Best Choice
Moment is a highly reliable name in the phone lens industry and we love their 58mm tele lens.
The materials are of the highest quality – the lens housing is made with aerospace-grade metal, whereas the lens itself is made from hand-polished glass.
The glass lens provides a 58mm focal length on a single-lens phone to bring you 2x closer to your subject. With dual-lens phones, the focal length is equal to a 115mm lens and offers 4x magnification power!
With a basic twist-and-lock bayonet mounting design, it’s easy to use. The only downside is that you’ll need to buy an M-series case to mount the lens on your phone. Other than that, you get everything you need with the Moment lens, including a lens cap and a microfiber bag.
Before you purchase the Moment 58mm Tele Lens it’s imperative to note that the working distance – the minimum distance the lens must be from the subject to achieve focus – is 7.25″ on the main lens and over 2 feet when on the tele lens on dual camera setups.
- Easy to use
- Solid metal build
- High-quality glass lens
- 2 year warranty
- Requires a Moment case
- Working distance of 7.25″
Apexel Telephoto Lens: Best Multipurpose
The Apexel tele lens is a high-powered, durable piece of equipment. It offers up to 36x zooming power, which is one of the highest on the market.
You can use it to shoot scenes or take pictures over five miles away—that’s pretty impressive!
What’s even more impressive is that you can use the Apexel as a monocular telescope. This lens is ideal for stargazing, as well as wildlife, bird, cityscape photography. If you’re going camping with your Android phone, this is the lens to take.
Another feature we like about the Apexel is its sturdy build. It’s manufactured using aircraft-grade aluminum with premium glass. The glass lens has a protective coating that reduces digital artifacts, like flares and ghosting.
The Apexel lens comes with a tripod to support the lens. It also comes with a zip case, a lens cap, and a detachable clip that’s compatible with many devices.
- Durable build
- Offers multiple focal adjustment points
- Specially-coated lens to reduce digital artifacts
- EVA rubber on lens clip prevents scratching on phone
- Some phones are too heavy for the tripod
Sirui Red Portrait Lens: Best Value
The Sirui Red is an add-on tele lens that’s compatible with many types of Android phones. It boosts your phone’s focal length by 3x for rich and beautiful photos.
The first feature that caught our eye on this lens is its 40-degree viewing angle. It makes for stunning portraits just with a few clicks of your smartphone.
Another terrific feature is its durability. It may be compact, but don’t let that fool you. It’s crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum to keep the lens sturdy despite its small and light frame.
Speaking of lenses, the Sirui Red features six elements of German Schott optical glass lenses. They work together to offer sharp, clear images with minimal distortions. For even sharper images, there’s a protective coating that reduces artifacts, such as reflection and glare.
- Great value for the price
- Intricate lens construction results in crisp images
- Reduces digital artifacts
- Lightweight and compact
- Sturdy build
- The lens clip may interfere with the screen on some phones
The Take Away – Tele Lenses for Android Photography
For smartphone portrait photography there’s no better option than a tele lens. While the options for Android aren’t as good as those designed for iPhone, these tele lenses are all worth considering. It may be worth checking out Sandmarc’s 60mm Tele Lens as it comes with a clip-on option but Sandmarc’s lenses are marketed for iPhone.
If you take any awesome Android photography shots tag us on Instagram too – @photoswithphones – for a chance to be featured!