Not Your Everyday Banana

by Bart Arondson

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I enjoy taking pictures for fun with my iPhone 3GS, but I've now reached a point where I would like to be able to zoom in a bit on my motives, and I don't like the digital zoom.

Now I've seen that it is possible to buy small zoom lenses (so I can have them in my pocket all the time) that can be attached to the iPhone - http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/iphone-telephoto-lens/ - but before buying I would like to hear if anyone in here have experiences to share, and perhaps even recommend this or another product.

Should I buy this item?

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Other than the review seems like it will be difficult to comment on a product that has not shipped yet. I've ordered one though, looks fun! –  Grzegorz Adam Hankiewicz Mar 6 '11 at 14:41
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My advice would be that if you care about the camera, get something other than an iPhone. –  Jerry Coffin Mar 6 '11 at 16:14
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@Jerry The sample pictures (available through the OP's link) are telling: even at 2 x 3" on the screen, they are strongly blurred. Sounds like a good outfit for capturing pictures of UFOs :-). –  whuber Mar 6 '11 at 16:28
    
@Jerry Coffin: the iPhone camera beats every phone camera on the market today except the Nokia N8. –  mattdm Mar 6 '11 at 16:54
    
@mattdm: it may have better specs, but in actual use that doesn't seem to be true. I've used the camera in my wife's iPhone, and it's really pretty dreadful. I use a dirt-cheap Samsung phone (sorry, don't know a model, and can't find a marking) seems to be considerably better. Mind you, it's not what I could possibly call "good", but it's less bad. –  Jerry Coffin Mar 6 '11 at 17:48
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3 Answers 3

I don't have the lens, but as some comments above say - their sample images are quite telling.

  1. Their very best pictures they chose to share as sample images are quite blurry and on a real camera would probably be tossed as unusable. (As best you can tell from their image sizes).

  2. They show using a tripod and thats going to be needed in the majority of cases. You'll probably not have a high shutter speed, an iPhone isn't built for steady holding, and you're lacking any real image stabilization.

Unless you're taking really well lit pictures constantly (in order to get the shutter speed high), skip it and get a pocket-able real P&S camera or live with the existing iPhone limitations.

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Part of learning about photography is learning to recognize and exploit the strengths and weaknesses of different cameras. The iPhone camera is very good for a phone, but telephoto shots are not its strength, and never will be. No accessory is going to change that.

I have three specific recommendations for you.

  1. Use shoe-leather zoom: move closer to your subject.
  2. Learn to love landscape shots. I have taken several very nice wide shots with my iPhones (both 3GS and 4). During the iPhone 4 keynote, lots of the shots they used were wide, such as the Golden Gate Bridge; these are the kinds of shots it is very good at. I don’t know if I’ve ever shot a really excellent portrait with one. You might also want to look at The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You, a book of iPhone photos, to get a better idea of what your camera is capable of.
  3. If you really cannot live without a zoom lens, buy yourself a dedicated camera. Either a nice compact (The Canon PowerShot S90/S95 are amazing; I love mine) or a superzoom. You’d have to tote around a special case lens with the PhotoJojo setup, so carrying a separate camera wouldn’t be all that much worse. SnapSort is a fantastic site for comparing cameras.
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Here's maybe a slightly different viewpoint to the general consensus opinion of 'this is a bad idea':

Will adding a lens modifier- generally speaking a modifier of significantly lower quality than the lens itself- detract from the quality of a lenses optics? Yes. Absolutely. Your picture will never be as sharp or accurate as if you hadn't added the modifier to the front of the lens. In fact, it will be significantly degraded. Period.

Should you buy this item? That depends on what you're looking to accomplish with your photography, and what (in general) you want your pictures to look like. If you like the 'lo-fi' photography look that can be achieved through the use of things like Lensbabys, and Lomo cameras, then you're likely to think the look that comes from one of these modifiers is cool! If, on the other hand, you're hoping for performance that in any way rivals an actual dedicated zoom lens on a 'real' camera, it would be better to avoid such modifiers because the quality of the images you'll be able to make won't even be in the same city as a dedicated lens would, let alone the same ballpark.

Personally, I think this modifier looks like a heck of a lot of fun for use as a 'goof around' camera attachment, and at ~$35 it's a small enough investment that it seems like a bit of 'no-brainer' to give it a go...

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I'm not into professional photography at all. It is just for fun and learning :) –  Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Mar 12 '11 at 7:29
    
Then I'll bet that the attachment will be a lot of fun for you to use! Like I said, I think it's a bit of a 'no brainer' to spend ~$35 on something like this... –  Jay Lance Photography Mar 12 '11 at 16:42
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