Many ways to take macro photographs with your smartphone

Here are a few ways you can take macro photographs with your smartphone organized from free to more expensive.

1) Zoom the lens, focus as close as you can on an easy to focus object, take a test shot, repeat with your mosquito (preferably chilled or frozen first). Your mileage will vary, this won't get you into true 'macro' range but you could document key field marks on a live insect before it flies away!
2) Use a close-up lens, you can get these from many sources: used laser pointer, used cd-rom player, led light diffuser. The key is to EXPERIMENT. Follow the many tutorials at Remember google + common sense is your friend.

1) Find a hand-lens, preferably a 10-20x hand lens or 'jewelers' loupe. We often buy inexpensive 'doublet' hand lenses that can be given away or forbid 'lost' for around $15. A more expensive 'triplet' lens 10x or 15x is often good. For a stationary subject hold the lens with one hand and the camera in the other. How do you press the shutter? Many smart-phones can be activated by pressing the volume buttons to take the picture. If you figure out the exact place to hold the lens in front of your smart-phone camera lens, you can fix this with duct tape or double-sticked tape. The key is to practice and experiment. BONUS: the hand lens allows you to inspect your finds up close and look (and write down) key details that can cinch identifications.

2) Buy a specific macro lens for your smartphone. I generally don't recommend this for casual use b/c for the price of one of these lenses you could by 4-5 inexpensive hand lenses or one really high quality one. But these lenses do solve the problem of positioning the lens at the right distance from the front of the camera and often have special holders or cases to go with them. If you are going to take a lot of macro pictures with your smart phone, this may be the easiest way not to 'miss the shot!'

Before you run out to buy anything remember a good photograph requires three things: good focus, good depth of field (that is the depth that is in focus), low motion blur (light helps this by raising the shutter speed). In order to achieve all these you'll really need good light for your pictures. A small LED light can help, often the flash in your phone is helpful unless you block it with one of the suggested solutions above.

Other ways to take close up pictures:

If you have access to a stereo or compound microscope you can take a picture by zooming in your smartphone on they eyepiece once you have the specimen already in focus.

If you really get into this there is a huge variety of macrophotography equipment to explore, you can often get inexpensive lenses for digital slrs, but sometimes smaller cameras (with smaller sensors = greater depth of field) are better for quick photo documentation.

I'll cover this topic in another post.

Good luck with your macro shots!


Posted by cydno cydno, June 05, 2015 18:09



See the tips for mosquito photography continued here:


Posted by cydno over 3 years ago (Flag)

Since writing this post the cost of clip on lenses has gone through the floor. You can now get a 10x clip on lens on Amazon for less than $10 (or get 4 for $20). Search for 'clip on macro lens for smartphone'. Several brands that have been higher quality than average include "Neewer" or "Polaroid" but availability changes a lot. See (May 2018) "Neewer® 3-in-1 Clip-on Lens Kit for Android Tablet, ipad, iphone, Samsung Galaxy and other Smartphones" for an adequate solution (comes in a 4-pack!).

Posted by cydno over 1 year ago (Flag)

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