Most of you who have professional cameras or even a compact digital camera might know how exciting it is to shoot pictures that are off the regular. Some might like telephotos, while others enjoy fish-eye effects and then there are others who enjoy tilt-shift and long exposure photographs. We also know many who enjoy looking down on tiny objects and the micro world around us using macro modes. Macro photography is possible only on DSLRs and digital cameras and you need to tag around one all the time, as you might not know when you will witness a superb macro shot. But with high-end smartphones now featuring larger resolution cameras, many are using their phone for casual pictures. But shooting the tiny world is still not possible using a cellphone, as the macro mode still is not as good and the subject needs to be at a minimum distance of around 5 inches if not more. In this How To, we shall show you how you can convert your regular phone into a super macro shooter within a few minutes, and you don’t need to spend anything at all as most of the material needed for this workshop is available in your home itself. Let’s first show you a few photos we managed to click using a Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, which features an 8-megapixel shooter with autofocus.
SMD devices soldered to a motherboard
A surface mounted component on a GPU
Mobile phone display screen
Serrated knife edge
A ball point pen's nib
A microSD card
Edge of a cigarette
Now here is how we did it.
- A mobile phone with a decent camera resolution and preferably with auto-focus
- A bobby pin or hair pin (you may ask Didi or Mommy for one)
- Some stiff copper wires (UTP Cat5 should work good)
- A thick rubber band or friendship band
- Paper punch
- Some sticky tape
- An optical lens
- A good white light source (an LED torch)
You should be able to arrange the bobby pin and sticky tape without any issues, but yes, we know the lens is the main part in this workshop and you might be thinking about where you could be hunting for it. Well, here is another small list of places where you can salvage lenses for this workshop
- Any old, dead or disposable camera
- A cheap laser pointer
- DVD / CD ROM drives
- Old scanners
- Telescopes or binoculars
- Bad SLR camera lenses
Our collection of salvaged lenses
While old and disposable cameras have a good lens that you can use, cheap laser pointers also have a good lens in them. Old flat-bed scanners, which have a built-in camera, have an array of lenses and are pretty good. Telescopes, binoculars and SLR cameras also have an array of different lenses. Do note that each optical lens is made differently and varies in focal length and size. While some are convex lenses, others are concave ones. Concave lenses cannot be used for macro mode, so its the convex lens that we are looking for. To know if your lens can work for this workshop, simply test the lens by looking at something through it. If the image is magnified, it will work. If the magnification level is higher, you can achieve better macro photographs, but there are chances of a barrel distortion. You can try out different lenses to achieve satisfactory results. In the past, we have featured a similar macro workshop using a compact camera with a lens attachment.
All we actually need to do is find a method to mount the lens on the camera in such a way that it can be removed and attached at will. Permanently attaching the lens to the camera is a bad idea as the camera will be useless for normal photos with the lens attached. There are many manufacturers abroad who are selling macro, zoom and fish-eye lens attachments for cellphones, but they don’t come cheap (and are highly aimed towards iPhone users). These attachments are separate back panels for the phone, which is designed for the detachable lens mount.
Others have used these methods
Shown above are a few options that others have been adapting for mounting a lens on the camera. We show you three simplest methods how you can do it.
Method1: Using a bobby pin or hair clip
Method1: Use a bobby pin or hair pin. This pin has a unique shape and a springy elastic property that helps hold the lens in place. Once done, stick the pin to the phone’s back panel using some sticky tape, making sure that the lens is covering the camera properly.
Method2: Using a wire to tie the lens to the camera
Method2: You can use some stiff wires to do the trick. Tightly tie the lens (works well if it is a thick lens) with the wire as shown in the picture and then tie it around the phone, making sure the lens is over the camera.
Method3: Using a rubber band
Method3: We used this method as it is convenient, easy to attach and remove, usable on any mobile phone and easily portable. Take a rubber band or friendship band (usually made from stronger rubber) and make it fit snugly around the mobile phone. If it is too wide or loose, you can cut it shorter and stick it with rubber glue or staple it. Next, punch in a hole using a paper punch and plug this hole with the lens. You can glue the lens permanently, but make sure the glue does not damage the lens or the rubber. Slide the band over the phone with the lens covering the camera and you are done.
Start up the camera, shine in some light if needed and aim at the subject. Shoot!
Do you have any brighter or better ideas that can help others who are reading this? Do you know other places where you can salvage lenses? Do you have any other ideas for mounting the lens on the phone? We would like to hear it. Do put them down in the comments and if possible, we would like some photos of it too. If you have tried this workshop, we would definitely like to see some of the macro photos that you managed to click using your cellphone.
Main visual image credit: Getty Images