Friday, January 24, 2014

Playing with the Photojojo Wideangle / Macro Lens

Introduction

A few months ago, I received a gift from a fellow photographer. It was packaged as though my friend was sending it personally, tuckered in confetti accompanied by a little toy dinosaur, needless to say I felt like it was my birthday last October.

This lil gadget is a set of lens. When fully assembled, it acts as a wide angle lens. When used with its primary attachment, it acts as macro lens. The primary attachment of the lens to the phone is typically made possible with small metal rings that you can attach to your phone or solid case.

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I own the Google Nexus 5, the N5 was seemingly engineered for attachments like this… the lens just attached directly to my phone without the assistance of the metal ring. Makes me think that the phone was made for photographers.

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For a while, I used to think that phone attachments like this are novelties bought by wannabe photographers using their phones, making “art,” embellished by Instagram filters with selfies, diptychs, galaxies, and bad typography. By the end of the month, this lil gadget changed my mind about that.

Build Quality and Price

The elements and components in the lens were impressive, I was expecting some plastic or acrylic lens, as it turns out, these lens are coated glass encased in machined aluminum. it has a lens back cover and plastic lens cover. The back cover comes with a little lanyard, which works great if you like small attachments on your phone case (if the case has a little area to attach lanyards to). I’ve used the little lanyard around my finger to hold the lens back as I was using the lens.

I’ve already dropped the lens a few times expecting one of the elements of glass to be cracked or scratched, or the aluminum housing to be bent or scratched as well… but so far, so good. This little thing has been abused in my pocket and laptop bag. Its so light that I forget that I have it in my jacket pocket at times. Its the perfect little size of lens to just have on you. I’ve seen other lens for phones on the market that are larger, even an intriguing one that touts professional grade glass elements, that does the job that these lens do, but I can’t justify spending over $50 on a lens set that would possibly break on the first drop.

Close up of the Photojojo Wideangle Lens set

I believe that these lens are built just right with a reasonable build quality and price at $20 for a single lens set or $99 for the complete lens set at Photojojo. Some might say that twenty bucks is kind of expensive for a set of small lens that you can buy directly from China, however, I love the idea of buying from Photojojo because their customer support is one of the best I’ve seen and talked with, and their crew is super cool; plus, Photojojo is a small independent team of developers, photographers, and people like you and me who curate such great commercial products and bring them literally to our doorstep (and apparently, with love).

Usage

The lens made it possible for me to take really wide shots in really tight spaces. Of course, these were test shots, very intentional test shots. Throughout the past few months, I realized, to use this lens, you have to be intentional about it. It felt somewhat similar to having to pull out the right lens for any given moment and knowing that the right lens was there for you. If you see something interesting, as a photographer, your best camera is the one you have on you. With a lens kit like this, it might just give you a better opportunity to capture life in a different way.

Wideangle shot of a chess board

Its really easy to attach and detach the lens set because of the magnetic rings, but just like with any lens set, removing and replacing the lens can become a task that is best learned after some practice to be able to just use the lens quickly.

Wideangle shot of my bike

Wideangle shot of my bike.

Normal shot of my bicycle

Normal shot without the lens set attached to my bike.

Its always somewhat difficult trying to get pictures of animals, with the macro lens its even harder.

The lens are sharp, but it may take some manual focusing to get the best results. I haven’t noticed the lens affect the color of the pictures that I’ve taken, they’re not very thick lenses, nor have I noticed the coating on the lenses make aberrations in any of the photos I’ve taken with them.

Wideangle Shot of CoffeeMacro Shot of coffee bubbles Stumptown coffee cup wideangle shotStumptown coffee cup stamp print macro shot

This is a fun lens set that opens up the possibilities for even more interesting phonography(phone photography).

Overall

Pros:

  • Glass elements in lens, sharp photos
  • Aluminum housing
  • Very light (in weight) lens set
  • Small size
  • Decent Price point from a great company

Cons:

  • Twenty bucks, albeit, its reasonable pricing
  • Takes some getting used to, to know always know you have the lens right there with you
  • Sometimes you need to use manual focus, which can be tricky with some phones

I give this accessory an 8.5/10; get the lens at the Photojojo Store or on Amazon.