So, you’ve been scrolling through Instagram and have come upon some excellent smartphone macro photography. Congratulations on finding one of the most exciting and utilizable kinds of phone photography!
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I figured if the tiny male mason bees could shake off the long cold Winter, and make it out of hibernation to face the world, so could I. The bees made it out almost before the first Spring flowers. There is not much for them to eat yet, but still, they wait expectantly for the females to emerge. Soon the garden will be filled with all the colors and sounds of Spring. We juuuust have to make it through this upcoming week of forecasted rain. #macro #arthropod #insect #insects #bug #Hemiptera #masonbee #bee #nature #wild #sony #a7RIII #canada #vancouverisland #BC #macrophotography #banzoos #savethebees #savethepollinators #protectpollinators #protecttheplanet #banherbicides #banpesticides #ArthropodAdvocacy #conservation #yearofthearthropod
Now that you’ve discovered the discipline, though, you’re eager to set about teaching yourself how to take macro photos like the pros.
That’s where we at Photos with Phones come in. We’ll explain what smartphone macro photography is and teach you how and when to do it.
Then, we’ll give you some buying recommendations to make sure you have the gear necessary to take top-notch photos.
It’s 2020, after all – it must be easier than you may think to take professional-grade macro photos on your phone!
What is Macro Photography?
In the simplest terms, smartphone macro photography is the photographing of super small items with a smartphone as opposed to a DSLR or mirrorless camera. You can read about the pros and cons of smartphone photography in comparison to the two here.
While smartphone macro photography is a bit of a niche within the larger smartphone photography world, it is a wildly popular one in the regular photography industry.
The idea of macro photography is to capture as much detail in a photo as possible – from the hair on a bug’s antennae to a water droplet on a leaf. Sometimes because of the immense detail captured while doing smartphone macro photography, the images look abstract. The abstract style has an allure for a great many phone photographers.
While phone macro photography is specific to smartphones, the philosophies behind macro photography as a discipline are the same regardless of what kind of camera you’re using (don’t believe us – check this out).
In the eyes of many photography professionals, macro photography is a term only used when the subject is the same size as your camera sensor or smaller. According to these people, the term is frequently misused by people who’re just taking photos of little things.
Principally macro photography is used when the subject fills the frame, and the frame is limited to the sensor size.
For example, if your camera’s sensor were one inch wide, you would be photographing something one inch or smaller.
Important Smartphone Macro Photography Terminology:
So, there is some vocabulary you must familiarize yourself with to speak intelligently about the discipline and the gear.
There’s nothing worse than meeting a fellow mobile creator and sounding like an idiot because you don’t know your stuff.
Being familiar with the phone photography lingo will help you both grow your brand and choose the right gear, so take it seriously.
So, how big is the subject of your photo compared to the size of the camera’s sensor?
It may seem like an unimportant question, but the answer is of the utmost importance when doing smartphone macro photography.
After all, the ratio of the subject size and sensor size gives you the photo’s magnification.
To explain, they design macro lenses specifically to capture tiny subjects, so their sensors tend only to be between 17 and 36 millimeters. Or, for those unfamiliar with the metric system, tiny.
In layman’s terms, the more magnification in the lens, the more detail you can capture in a smaller subject.
Working Distance –
Working distance is the distance between the front of your lens and your nearest subject.
For most DSLR and mirrorless cameras, the recommended working distance when doing macro photography is about six centimeters.
For smartphone macro photography, however, we recommend doing some reading on what the lens producer says. Some lenses, for example, are ideal for use at an inch, whereas others perform better at the same working distance as their DSLR or mirrorless counterparts.
It can help to think about what exactly you’ll be doing smartphone macro photography on before purchasing. If, for example, you’ll be photographing leaves, then a one-inch working distance is ok. If, on the other hand, you’ll be photographing insects and lizards, then good luck getting that close without them scuttering away.
How to Do Macro Photography
We’ve said it before, and we’ll repeat it – don’t zoom!
Especially if you are using a macro lens – don’t worry we’ll get to some recommendations later on which one you should choose – zooming makes the photo worse. Zooming compromises the integrity of the picture and makes it nearly impossible to edit. Yes, even when shot in the RAW.
Instead, get up close and personal with your subject, you shouldn’t ever even need to zoom anyway. The whole job of the macro lens (not lense) is to magnify your subject. Don’t worry if your photo doesn’t meet the subject fills the frame, and the frame is limited to the sensor size rule. Take the picture that you set out to take and deal with the repercussions later.
Oh, at this point, you should catch the drift – to do pure smartphone macro photography you’re going to need a macro lens.
Don’t worry, though, this pure mobile macro photography can be both cost-effective and high quality! We’ve outlined some of the best ones for you – whether you’re an expert looking for a new lens or a beginner looking to purchase your first.
When to do Phone Macro Photography
Do you, or do you wish that you run a social media page for plants, small animals, or nature adventures? As we discussed earlier, do macro photography when the subject is the same size as your camera sensor or smaller.
As a result, if you answered yes above, then a macro lens for your phone would be a perfect addition to your repertoire! You’ll find that a whole new world opens up before you – a world you can’t see without 10x zoom.
In most cases, smartphone macro photography is great for capturing the intricate details of bugs, plants, and small animals. It may also be worth getting close up to take textured photos of larger objects if the picture is part of a collection.
But that piece of advice is just a little photography tip of the trade.
If you’re looking to stand out with your page, then sprinkling in some spectacular macro shots is a great way to do it! And hey, you don’t even need a DSLR or mirrorless.
Best Lenses for Smartphone Macro Photography
We’ve looked at lenses a couple of times in the past. But we’ve never just talked macro.
That all changes now!
We’ve included the budget option, the best quality option, and the best deal option for macro phone lenses. It must be noted that every option is a good choice, though the best budget and best deal options are intended for beginners. The best quality option is obviously intended for the experts and those serious about their phone photography.
Happy macro lens hunting.
Best Quality Option – Moment Macro
Maybe one day we’ll stop tooting Moment’s horn, but that day is not today.
Moment’s Macro offering is another excellent one in terms of usability and performance. At $79, it’s relatively cost-effective in comparison to their other lenses too! Though, compared to the different smartphone macro photography lenses in this guide, the Moment Macro is relatively expensive.
The only other drawback to the Moment Macro is its comparatively low 10x magnification. At the same time, the quality of glass in the lens almost makes up for the lack of more magnification.
The glass and the lens as a whole get made from only the finest materials that money can buy. Moment is a legit company, and their products make it clear that they’re here to stay. Care to read a little bit more about Moment?
Their macro lens is, regardless of the previously mentioned cons, definitely a must-have in any serious macro photographers tool belt.
It’s worth noting though that to use any Moment lens, you have to have a Moment Case!
There is a chance that Moment may soon come out with a new edition for smartphone macro photography as the macro is now the cheapest lens that they sell. The price has dropped multiple times over the last year. The current situation is sometimes an indication that an older model is soon to get replaced, and they’re trying to clear stock.
So, the price of this baby could drop if that’s the case.
- Macro Lens
- Lens Cap
- Microfiber Travel Bag
- Lifetime warranty
- High-quality customer service coupled with a 100% satisfaction guarantee (includes free shipping and returns)
Best Budget Option – Easy-Macro Lens Band (4X Magnification)
Are you just trying to find out if phone macro photography is something you’d like? Well, then the Easy-Macro Lens Band is the perfect lens for you!
The lens is compatible with literally any smartphone and offers easy to use and surprisingly crisp 4x magnification. While this level of magnification is nothing to write home about, it is undoubtedly enough to dip your toes into the phone macro photography niche.
It cannot be overstated how unbelievably easy to use the Easy-Macro Lens Band is; it goes from the package to shooting passable macros in minutes.
As a result, it’s also perfect for those young aspiring photographers that you don’t want playing with your fancy macro lens.
While there is no warranty listed on Amazon, there are very few reviews that mention any sort of breakage.
- Rubber band lens
Best Deal Option – RhinoShield 2 in 1 Add-On Camera Lens
If you’re looking for protection for your phone, then look no further than RhinoShield. The company is known widely in the phone case world. It’s worth noting though that they also dabble – quite successfully – in add-on lenses for phones too.
This 2-in-1 offering boasts a quality wide-angle and macro lens that’s a no-brainer at this price point. While you do have to purchase a RhinoShield case and lens adapter it’s worth the peace of mind in protection you receive.
If you’re a phone photographer who’s looking to make their first gear purchase, then this is an excellent option for you! You’ll get the most usable phone photography lens in the wide-angle and the most fun phone photography lens in the macro.
It’s a seriously good bargain. And again, the quality is almost Moment level!
- 0.62x 105° Wide Angle Lens
- 4x Macro Lens
Magniband – The Unmissable New Gadget for All Smartphones
If you’re looking to shoot quality macro with your phone on a budget, then Magniband is worth a look. Hell, we’ve written a whole article about them!
The Magniband is essentially the same as the Easy-Macro Lens Band, but:
- at a lower price point (less than 6 British Pounds – or, approximately $8)
- includes a 7-day return window
- hosts a photography community on social media
- was invented by a 16-year-old kid
- is arguably the better rubber band macro lens
Seriously, if you’re looking for your first macro lens for your phone, then send your support Magniband’s way.
You won’t be disappointed.
Last update on 2020-03-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API