Wanting to get my husband a lens for his iPhone 6,7 that he can view and take a picture of a deer 60-100 yards away. I'm confused whether to get a zoom, wide angle , prime etc. What type lens do I need ?

  • I bought my wife the Moment lenses for her iPhone. Their telephoto won't hit your need to take a close up at even 40 yards, let alone further. But, if you're looking to expand on the iPhone's camera, they do make a good product.
    – OnBreak.
    Dec 18 '17 at 15:43
  • A 58 - 98 yard selfie stick?
    – Robin
    Dec 18 '17 at 17:42

There are no reasonable options that will extend an iPhone to take good wildlife photos at that range. That's really quite far away. The cameras in phones today are technological marvels, but because they are so small, they have to make compromises, and they're optimized for the kind of family scene or social photo situation in which people normally take snapshots on their phones.

There are add-on lenses that clip on in front of the iPhone's own lens, but they're mostly gimmicks, and there's really nothing that will get you to reasonable wildlife photos at that distance.

  • 3
    "The phones in cameras today" - wonder if this is intentional or not?
    – Mat
    Dec 18 '17 at 16:44
  • 1
    @Mat LOL no. I started with "cameraphones" and then thought, no, I don't want to say it that way, and then I guess my brain reversed things. :)
    – mattdm
    Dec 18 '17 at 17:47

To get good detail at 60-100 yards with a phone will almost require a small telescope with a phone adapter on the eyepiece end of the telescope. If your husband already has a nice spotting scope (or high quality pair of binoculars) for hunting or target shooting, you'd probably get better results by purchasing an adapter that holds the phone to the eyepiece of the spotting scope (or one side of the binoculars) than you would buying a smartphone telephoto lens.

If you do decide to go the add-on phone lens route:

You need a telephoto lens. Such adapter lenses made for phones are often labeled "zoom", but they rarely have more than one magnification setting so technically they aren't really zoom lenses.

If a lens is labeled something like '15X Macro' that probably means it is only good for high magnification at very close distances, like for taking pictures of the details of your coin or stamp collection. Such a lens won't be able to focus at longer distances.

Some phone adapter lenses will tell you how far it allows the phone to focus. I've seen a few that say '1500 Meters'. I've even seen one or two that have adjustable focus rings on the lens barrel. These are some of the ones that are about the size of 1/2 a pair of small binoculars.

Another thing to consider is that the iPhone 7 plus (and maybe other models - I'm an Android guy) has a dual camera. There are a few phone adapter lenses for wide angle or macro use with dual lenses that cover each lens on the phone, but telephoto add-on lenses are single lenses that are used over the main lens only.

Some such lenses come with custom cases that align the add-on lens with the phone's camera lens. Custom cases also allow the height of the add-on lens above the phone's lems to be optimized for a particular model of phone. Others come with a clip that requires the user to carefully align the clip over the center of the phone's lens. If the add-on lens is a little off center the image quality will suffer. If it is aligned very much off center it won't work at all. Additionally, slight differences in height over the phone's lens can affect how far or how close the phone can focus with the extra lens attached. If the lens has adjustable focus it can be used to correct for differences in height.

  • This is in my opinion the best answer. It is the only option if you want any decent pictures using a smartphone at a long range. Clip-on lenses can only do so much and if you are really into spotting a monocular or binocular is a piece of kit that is indispensible, unless you want to spot using conventional camera with a zoom lens. Dec 18 '17 at 9:36
  • Very much agree with the spotting scope option. My family are avid birdwatchers and photographers. In a pinch, they'll slap an iPhone on a spotting scope. Photos generally turn out great! After all, the best camera is the one you have with you. Dec 18 '17 at 20:14
  • look at phoneskope or outdoorsmans for adapters to connect his phone to a spotting scope or binoculars. He will also need a tripod to support everything.
    – rgwaldron
    Aug 4 '21 at 22:29

What you probably want is a telephoto lens.

See also: my answer on the What are all the types of lenses? question.

  • 1
    For an iPhone, though?
    – mattdm
    Dec 18 '17 at 4:55
  • @mattdm, I know. I know. But then there's stuff like this. And the OP never specified good pictures. :)
    – inkista
    Dec 18 '17 at 5:04

Did you realize that they have binoculars with built in camera for as little as $100? They are really handy for anyone that is into wildlife or wanting to take pictures far away. I love mine for bird/butterfly photography.

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