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Booming smartphone sales put focus on photos, aftermarket lenses

Posted August 25

Smartphone sales have skyrocketed in the last 10 years, and industry analysts predict smartphone sales could reach 1.5 billion units this year.

Many of those phones are filled to the brim with pictures, but how of those images are high quality?

An easy way to pump up your photography game is to add inexpensive specialty lenses that go right on smartphone. Whether you need a shot with a macro lens, a fish eye, a soft-focus or telephoto, you can do it with your phone.

There are even wide-angle lenses so you can include more of the scene.

“What’s exciting about these lenses is they let you expand the capabilities on your smartphone and let you get creative at a reasonable price," said Consumer Reports' Camera Editor Terry Sullivan.

Consumer Reports tried out four brands:

– Photojojo’s were the least expensive. Each costs $20.

– Lensbaby makes a soft-focus lens for $60.

– Olloclip offers a wide-angle and telephoto lens kit for $100.

– Mobi has a wide-angle lens for $30.

That’s a far cry from traditional camera lenses, which can set you back hundreds or thousands of dollars.

“There are a couple of drawbacks in using these lenses," Sullivan said. "For starters, they cover up the phone’s flash.”

You can work around that by adding a flash like the Xuma Mobile LED. For $35, it has two different brightness settings and a slow strobe.

Still, don’t expect perfect results.

You won’t get professional features like high clarity on the edges of the fish-eye lens photos or image stabilization, which compensates for your hand’s slight movements. But the lenses do provide options that can help improve your photography.

The lenses featured will fit most iPhones, but not as many fit Android phones.

Before you buy one, make sure it's compatible with your phone.

And you'll have to remove the phone’s case to use these accessories.

1 Comment

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  • Dennis Midkiff Aug 25, 10:34 a.m.
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    You don't need a bunch of stuff stuck on your phone to take good photos. You either need a better phone or to take a photography course. I've had an HTC M9 for 1.5 years and these are some of my favorite photos: http://imgur.com/a/2mMlY