Photo-editing apps have dominated the App Store ever since Apple’s iPhone launched in 2007, but they especially grabbed ahold of pop culture after famous photographers and photojournalists—such as Damin Winter’s prize-winning Hipstamatic Afghanistan war series and The New York Times’ Instagram summer series—advocated the iPhone as a premiere device for capturing special moments.
Here’s the thing, though: there are plenty of ways to beautifully snap an image or film a video with the iPhone that will contribute to the after-effects of apps. How so? iPhoneography gear.
Yes, iPhoneography is an actual name (it even has a Wikipedia page), and it essentially, as one might guess, involves shooting and processing with an iOS device. With that said, the iPhone 5 launched almost one-month ago, and it’s 8-megapixel camera, Sapphire lens, Panorama mode, and 1080p HD video are making tidal waves in the iPhoneography world.
Photojojo.com offers an impressive, mouth-watering catalog of photography and videography gear for the iPhone 5, so we at 9to5Mac decided to get our hands on some of the site’s hot accessories. And, over the next month, we will test and review only what’s best for helping creative folks step up their iPhoneography game. Hopefully, as the holiday season is practically here, the series will inspire a few gift ideas. The previous-generation iPhone, by the way, is on par with the iPhone 5, in terms of the camera, so we will look at iPhone 4S-specific accessories too.
Check out the first review below on the tiny, yet ever-so useful, Easy Macro Cell Lens Band.
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Easy Macro Cell Lens Band
Before I discuss the pros and cons of this rubber band-esque mechanism, let’s talk about Macro photography: it’s basically just extreme close-up photography, usually of very small subjects, in which “Macro” lenses designed for close-up work, such as a long barrel for focusing and high reproduction ratios, are commonly used as tools.
In this particular instance, the Macro lens is implanted in a sturdy band that comfortably fits on the iPhone 5 and older models. It has been out for a while now, but Photojojo.com lists the Cell Lens Band, made by Easy Macro, as one of its top —”Hot”—products. I can certainly see why, too.
The best part of the lens band is that it requires no installation, setup, or even a complimentary app to do what it does best. Just slide the lens band over the top of the iPhone, and then align the lens over the camera eye, and you are good to go. I tested the lens band by taking pictures of text, coins, books, and print photographs with an iPhone 5, and then I took comparison pictures —with similar lighting, settings, angle, and focus— without the lens band. The differences were quite noticeable (as seen below).
The auto-focus of the iPhone 5′s camera without the lens band made it nearly impossible to get a clear image at a 1-inch or closer range of the subject. The results, on the right above, always came out blurry and lightened. The lens band, however, as seen on the left above, took crisp, clear images in striking detail and color. A slew of additional comparison shots are below.
The Easy Macro Cell Lens Band only costs $15. In other words, for less than a Jackson-faced bill, you can explore Macro photography AND iPhoneography like the professionals. The possibilities are endless (capture insects, look at the detail of a painting, or even grab a close-up of an eye, etc.). I especially liked how the band is wearable around a wrist and it can even go on the credit card-like holder it came with for easy carrying in a wallet or purse.
As for downsides, like most Macro lenses, you need to be extremely close to the subject to get a clear shot. Even a few inches away is simply too far. Also, be sure to stand completely still when shooting. The iPhone’s auto-focus likes to take over, so any movement could cause slight blurring in the final image or video. Oh, and the flash is covered by the blue band. However, at such close ranges, a flash would give too much exposure anyway. So, as long as you are able to stand still at close range in good lighting, the Macro lens will work perfectly and beautifully.
The last “downside” is really more of a nitpick. The band sits ridiculously close to the top of the iPhone 5, and the O.C.D. in me wants it to be extremely even on both sides, so I constantly adjusted the band to make sure it was snug and looking good.
Where to buy?
The Easy Macro Cell Lens Band is currently in stock at Photojojo.com for $15. It is able to ship through First Class, Priority Mail, UPS Ground, UPS 2-Day, or UPS Overnight. I suggest First Class, as it is only $2.80 extra, while PayPal, Google Checkout, and typical credit cards are accepted for payment.
Check it out: Easy Macro Cell Lens Band | Shockingly detailed phone shots at the snap of a band! – $15