Posted by in Gear Categories: Gear advice, Gear tests, and Photography.

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Take your phone photography from mediocre to magnificent with these nifty gadgets that won’t become obsolete when you upgrade.

 

Lekker Lenses

These natty lenses are universal and fit to any model of cellular phone. Use them to put a little DSLR in front of your smart phone camera and add some individuality to your images with wide-angle and fisheye effects.

 

1. instaLens

From R299 a lens or R1499 for the complete kit of five, instalens.co

Photo Gadgets - instaLens - Getaway Magazine - Melanie van Zyl

 

How it works

Each instaLens comes with three adhesive (and removable) metal rings, which need to be placed around the phone camera. The instaLens then attaches to the ring like a magnet to a fridge and it’s shooting time.

 

Pros

  • Quick and easy assembly.
  • Simple swapping between lens options.
  • Six separate lens with different optical effects to enhance your mobile photography experience: macro/wide angle, polarizer, zoom, fisheye and panorama view.
  • Compact to travel with fitting into a small fabric microfiber case, which also doubles as a lens cleaner.
  • High quality lenses.
  • No vignetting.

 

Cons

  • You’ve got to take your phone cover off every time you want to use the lens, or travel case-free.
  • It’s not the most stable fit. If I were to put my phone down the lens could easily slip off and get lost.

 

Verdict

My favourite instaLens is the macro/wide angle lens because you’re paying R299 for two lens options and it’s great value. Every other lens only offers one effect, but all are awesome and great quality. They’re not made for rough adventure, but they’re so easy to use, even a tech-savvy toddler can do it.

 

2. Lens baby LM10 Soft Focus Lens

R699, exposuregallery.co.za

Photo Gadgets - Getaway Magazine Melanie van Zyl - Lens baby LM10 Soft Focus Lens

 

How it works

Also fastening by means of magnetic rings, this lens effect offers a sweet spot of focus surrounded by blur.

 

Pros

  • Quick and easy assembly.
  • Great for arty, unusual phone shots.
  • Offers a wider field of view.
  • No vignetting.

 

Cons

  • You have to download a free app to use it called Lensbaby because the lens inverts the image and this has to be righted for practical use.
  • It’s tricky to get the focus right and requires practice to get great photographs.
  • You need to be patient with this one.

 

Verdict

A great lens for really unusual imagery, but you need to be prepared to practice for great shots.

 

3. Liequi Universal Clip Lens

R299, itoys.co.za

Photo Gadgets - Getaway Magazine - Liequi Universal Clip Lens

 

How it works

Just clip it over your camera and adjust until centred to avoid vignetting. Easy-peasy.

 

Pros

  • Quick and easy assembly.
  • Three lenses in one clip lens at a really affordable price: fisheye, macro and wide angle.
  • Don’t have to take the phone cover off to use it.
  • Can use it on the front or back camera.
  • Comes with a carry sack.
  • The durable clamp is more sturdy and fastens better to smartphones than the magnetic method.

 

Cons

  • Little bit of vignette.
  • Less subtle design than the instaLens.

 

Verdict

Better made for adventure, this affordable lens set is a great value buy, but a little bulkier than the instaLens set.

 

4. 7X Telephoto Zoom Lens

R599, itoys.co.za

Photo Gadgets - Getaway Magazine Melanie van Zyl - 7X Telephoto Zoom Lens

 

How it works

An adjustable clip slides over the smartphone and holds the lens in place.

 

Pros

  • Quick and easy assembly.
  • Produces high quality zoomed-in pictures (7x magnification).
  • Fastens well and is easily adjustable to avoid vignetting.
  • Nice hard protective plastic carry case.
  • Less distortion than its instaLens counterpart.

 

Cons

  • It’s bulky, heavy and feels very delicate perched on the corner of your phone.
  • You’ve got to keep it pretty still to get effective photographs (use with one of the tripods below).

 

Verdict

If you want zoomed-in pictures, but can’t get closer to your subject, this is probably your best bet, but it’s still not quite perfect and best for use with a tripod.

 

Honourable Mention

It’s not universal, but we’d look silly for not mentioning the popular Olloclip 4-in-1 Photo Lens (R899 from Superbalist). This quick-connect lens solution includes fisheye, wide-angle and macro lenses in a high-quality compact click-on package. However, they are only compatible with one brand per clip, so if you’re loyal to either Apple or Samsung, it’ll do just nicely.

You might also like: Pretend your iPhone is a DSLR with the awesome Manfrotto Klyp+

 

What the pros use

SA’s top Instagrammer Gareth Pon uses the Moment Lens.

“They’re the best mobile photography lenses you can get your hands on. Out of all the Mobile Photography lenses I’ve tested I’ll confidently say these are the only lenses that don’t distort or damage the quality of your image. Moment make two lenses at the moment, a Wide 18mm Lens (amazing for landscapes) and a Telephoto 60mm Lens (ideal for portraits). They ship world-wide and you have many safe shipping options if you’re a bit nervous about online shopping.”

Check out his awesome pictures on Instagram @garethpon.

 

Tiny Tripods

For sharper snaps, better HDR images and epic time lapses these tripods are best.

 

1. Istabiliser Flex

R341, loot.co.za

Photo Gadgets - Istabiliser Flex - Getaway Magazine - Melanie van Zyl

 

How it works

An adjustable clip holds smartphones in a horizontal position and the flexible legs can wrap around any surface like tree branches, a fence or a roof rack.

 

Pros

  • Easy setup.
  • Flexible legs are good for travel as you can attach it to a variety of surfaces.
  • Rubberized feet for better stability.
  • Small and lightweight.

 

Cons

  • Presses the ‘shoot’ button when the iPhone is horizontal.
  • Only holds phones with a width less than 7cm.

 

Verdict

A great tripod for getting that shot because it can adjust to any angle and clamps the smartphone well. Set the self-timer or press ‘record’ and away you go.

 

2. Joby Griptight Micro Stand

R319, takealot.com

Joby Griptight Micro Stand - Photo Gadgets - Getaway Magazine

 

How it works

A compact clasp screws into the low-profile tripod stand.

 

Pros

  • Easy setup.
  • It’s tiny – literally pocket sized – about the size of a bulky USB stick.
  • The rubberised feet make for stable shooting.
  • Durable zinc alloy legs.
  • Lightweight and very travel friendly.

 

Cons

  • The arms and internal steel springs only extend and clasp widths more than 6,5cm so for smartphones less than this, it’s more of a phone rest than a sturdy tripod.

 

Verdict

This compact tripod is great for travel and spontaneous shooting. The setup is quick, but it’s better suited to wider phones.

 

3. Joby Mpod Mini Stand

R203, takealot.co.za

Photo Gadgets - Getaway Magazine - Joby Mpod Mini Stand

 

How it works

Adjustable, flexible legs hold up the phone which is secured by a rubberized jaw that extends and clasps using an elastic band.

 

Pros

  • Easy setup.
  • Budget price.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Flexible leg joints.

 

Cons

  • Can’t wrap around wide objects like tree branches because the legs are only 6cm long.
  • Need to balance it carefully.

 

Verdict

It’s perfect for quick snaps and is easy on your pocket, but it’s not as versatile as the iStabiliser.

 

Nice to Have

We found these awesome extras to take your mobile photography to the next level.

 

1. Overboard Waterproof Phone Case

R499, overboardafrica.co.za

Photo Gadgets - Getaway Magazine - Melanie van Zyl - Overboard Waterproof Phone Case

 

How it works

A heavy-duty ziplock bag for your cellphone.

 

Pros

  • Easy to setup.
  • You can use your phone up to six meters underwater with confidence (tested up to 60 minutes).
  • Large back window for clear photographs (and a front window for selfies).
  • Touch-screen compatible and easy to navigate through the supple plastic film.
  • It’s also sandproof, dirtproof and snowproof.
  • Comes with a lanyard and carabiner.

 

Cons

  • Sometimes the smartphone camera wouldn’t shoot via the touchscreen underwater, and the side buttons had to be used.
  • It’s easier to start video before going underwater than fiddling with the touchscreen when already submerged.

 

Verdict

A great buy. It’s got plenty of uses and is a great way to document every aspect of your travels without compromising your smartphone.

 

2. Fujifilm Instax Share Smartphone Printer

R1895, ormsdirect.co.za

Photo Gadgets - Fujifilm Instax Share Smartphone Printer - Getaway Magazine - Melanie van Zyl

 

How it works

This device allows you to wirelessly print your smartphone or tablet photographs using Fujifilm’s free downloadable instax SHARE app.

 

Pros

  • Easy to setup.
  • Print on the go.
  • Indicator lights showing how many prints are left and battery life.
  • Quick printing.
  • Edit and rotate photographs before printing.
  • Can add text, date stamp and other graphics with templates.
  • A compact portable printer about the size of a thick A6 notebook.

 

Cons

  • Film is pricey at R130 for 10 sheets.

 

Verdict

This is a fun gadget and the credit card-sized Polaroid-style printouts are great for displaying your travel memories. It works like a dream.

 
 
 

This article first appeared in the May 2015 issue of Getaway magazine.

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Please note that all prices were correct at time of publication, but are subject to change at each manufacturer’s discretion.