What is the best iPhone macro lens you can get in 2020? And what’s the best iPhone macro lens for your needs?
These are common questions, and for good reason: Choosing an external macro lens for your iPhone can be tough. There is a whole slew of options, but many external lenses are of low quality.
That’s why we’re writing this article. We’re going to tell you which iPhone macro lenses actually perform well. And, ultimately, we’re going to help you find the perfect lens for your iPhone.
So are you ready to discover the best macro lens for your iPhone?
Let’s dive right in.
The Best iPhone Macro Lens: Factors to Consider
When it comes to choosing an external macro lens for your iPhone, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
First and foremost, you want to make sure your external macro lens has the right magnification.
iPhone macro lenses display their magnification in terms of 5x, 10x, 20x, etc. The larger the number, the greater the magnification.
If you’re looking to capture ultra-close-up shots (e.g., of leaf veins), then you want the most magnification you can get. So aim for something in the 20x range.
But you should be careful: Macro lenses have something called working distance, which refers to the distance from the front of your lens to the subject you’re photographing. At high magnifications, your working distance will be tiny. And with tiny working distances comes other concerns: Possibilities of knocking your subject with your smartphone, or even casting your shadow on the subject. That’s why more working distance is something that you should always look for in a macro lens.
Method of Attachment
Different external macro lenses attach in different ways.
Some lenses just clip onto your iPhone. This is pretty convenient, because you can clip them on as the occasion demands, then store them away in your pocket for later. Clip-on lenses also tend to work on multiple iPhone models (and even Android models), so you don’t have to purchase a new lens every time you upgrade your phone.
Clip-on lenses have some drawbacks, however. For one, they’re easier to lose, since you’re always putting them on and taking them off the phone. They’re also easier to damage. Plus, the alignment between your iPhone and lens can be a bit off, resulting in reduced image quality.
On the other hand, some lenses attach via a special iPhone case. This attachment method tends to be sturdier and results in better image quality. But the cases cost extra, and it can be frustrating to use a case for photography, especially if you prefer a different case (or no case at all).
Here’s the bottom line:
Before you purchase an iPhone macro lens, ask yourself whether you want the convenience of a clip-on lens, or if you’d prefer the increased stability of a case.
Then go from there.
As I mentioned above, there are a lot of external macro lenses out there.
And plenty of them are just plain bad.
One of the ways in which manufacturers keep the price down is by skimping on build quality. This results in lenses that are plasticky–and are liable to break within months.
So keep an eye out for bad build quality. My suggestion is to go for metal lenses rather than plastic. Of course, metal costs more, so you should consider whether you’re willing to pay for a better build.
The most important aspect of any macro lens for your iPhone is its image quality.
Because here’s the thing:
If a lens can’t take good images, then there’s no point in paying for it.
Now, good image quality consists of a few features:
- Sharpness, both in the center and in the corners of the frame
- Minimal vignetting (i.e., no darkness around the edges of photos)
- Minimal chromatic aberration (also known as color fringing)
For a macro lens, sharpness is especially important. Macro shooters want to capture tiny details–but you won’t be able to do that if your macro lens is soft.
When it comes to iPhone macro lenses, there’s a lot of variation in price.
The best macro lenses cost around $100 USD (or a bit more). The budget macro lenses go down to $30 USD or even $20 USD.
Fortunately, there are some excellent budget macro lenses for iPhones. So if you don’t want to pay for a top-of-the-line macro lens, don’t worry; I’ve included several budget options on this list.
The Best iPhone Macro Lens: 5 Top Picks
Now that you’ve discovered the important features of a macro lens, let’s take a look at the best macro lenses for iPhones:
Olloclip is a company known for its high-quality iPhone lenses. And Olloclip's macro lens set is a favorite among the most serious iPhone macro photographers, for good reason.
First, Olloclip’s macro kit offers unprecedented flexibility, including not one, but three macro lenses, which you can slip on and off your iPhone at will.
The three lenses offer 7x, 14x, and 21x magnification. At 7x, you can take photos of larger subjects, but screw on the 21x lens, and you’ll be able to photograph even the tiniest of details.
The Olloclip macro kit clips onto your iPhone. But it’s not like most clip-on lenses; Olloclip provides a tight base, almost like a mask, that goes over your camera and ensures that the lens remains in place. Note that you cannot use the Olloclip lenses with a case, so you’ll need to be careful when handling your phone with the Olloclip lenses attached. (Alternatively, you can purchase Olloclip’s special case that works alongside the Olloclip macro lenses.)
Also, remember that you’ll need a different Olloclip lens set for different iPhones; make sure you get the one that works with your iPhone model!
Build quality is impressive: The Olloclip lenses are built from top-grade aluminum (though the clip-on base is plastic).
As for image quality, the lenses perform well, though not perfectly. The center of images is sharp, while the corners and edges appear somewhat soft. Distortion and color fringing in the center is negligible, but the edges do show some chromatic aberration.
That said, the Olloclip macro lenses are the best out there, despite the relatively steep price. So if you’re looking for the highest possible quality, go with Olloclip.
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The AiKEGlobal 4 in 1 kit includes a macro lens, a super wide-angle lens, a fisheye lens, and a 14x telephoto lens, all for an ultra-low price.
In other words, you get a lot of bang for your buck.
But how does the AiKEGlobal macro lens perform?
Despite its low price, the macro lens does well. It’ll get you images with a sharp center–though, like Olloclip’s macro set, edges and corners suffer from softness. In fact, the softness effect is strong enough that it could be used as part of an artistic style.
The AiKEGlobal macro lens features 20x magnification; this is better for smaller subjects and will let you capture lots of tiny details.
This is a versatile clip-on lens, which means that you can mount it on practically any phone you own, including both Apple and Android. Of course, this also means you must keep track of the lens set when not in use.
All in all, the AiKEGlobal 4 in 1 lens kit is a steal. I’d recommend it for anyone on a budget, or anyone looking for their first iPhone macro lens.
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Like Olloclip, Moment’s macro lens is one of the more expensive options out there.
Unlike Olloclip, Moment only gives you a single lens to use, so for a price tag of around $100 USD it’d better be good.
First, let’s talk about build-quality: The Moment macro lens is made from aerospace-grade aluminum, and you can feel it. It’s no light, plasticky accessory. Instead, it feels hefty (or as hefty as a tiny lens can get).
Moment promises that its lenses use cinema-quality glass. While I can’t confirm that this is true, I can confirm something even better: Image quality is spectacular. The Moment macro lens takes beautifully-magnified, 10x photos: photos that are tack sharp in the center, with no distortion or chromatic aberration to be seen. At the edges of the frame, softness does start to set in, but it doesn’t look bad, just artistic.
My main gripe with this lens is that you have to get close to your subject to take a magnified image–really, really close. You have to be less than an inch from your subject to grab a detail shot, and this comes with problems. You might find yourself jostling your subject as you shoot. You might also find yourself struggling to keep your subject well-lit as your shadow gets in the way.
Note that while the Moment macro lens works with a number of different smartphone models, you won’t be able to use it without Moment’s special accessory case, which must be purchased separately.
Bottom line, Moment offers a high-quality macro lens for the most serious iPhone macro photographers out there. If you’re willing to pay the price, then it’s a great option.
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When it comes to iPhone macro lenses, the 15x focal length is fairly middle-of-the-road; it’s not the 10x magnification of the Moment macro, nor is it the 20x of the AiKEGlobal macro lens. You should be able to pick up a fair amount of detail as you take photos of plants, flowers, and more.
One major drawback to this lens is the working distance. If you want to take a macro photo, you’ll be forced to put the lens just 1/2 inch in front of your subject. It’s not the end of the world, but you’ll often find your body blocking out the light, so some shots may take some careful maneuvering to pull off.
Build quality is surprisingly good for such a budget set of lenses. The lens barrels are metal and nicely crafted, and the glass looks top-notch.
Are the images as impressive as the Moment macro lens? No. But the Xenvo Pro macro lens delivers decently sharp centers, even if the edges are somewhat blurry and suffer from color fringing.
Like other midrange and budget iPhone lenses, the Xenvo is a clip-on lens. It comes with a simple clip that fits on the top of your iPhone. I’d recommend you check that your iPhone is compatible with the Xenvo lenses before you buy, because some customers report difficulties with mounting this lens on a dual-camera iPhone.
One nice bonus feature: Xenvo includes a lanyard in the package. When you’re not using your Xenvo macro lens, you can clip it onto the lanyard for easy access.
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The Leknes 3 in 1 lens kit is the cheapest option on this list. For under $15 USD, you get a package with three lenses, making each lens just $5 USD.
Because of the price, I wouldn’t expect too much from these lenses; they’re made to be cheap, and so you’re not going to find amazing build quality, image quality, and high-tech features.
That said, the Leknes macro lens isn’t a poor performer by any means. While the corners aren’t crystal clear, the center of the frame is sharp–potentially as sharp as some of the other (much more expensive) lenses on this list.
And build quality isn’t bad, either. The Leknes macro lens isn’t made from top-of-the-line equipment, but it feels solid enough that you won’t have to worry about it breaking.
To use the lens kit, simply clip it onto your iPhone over the camera. And every Leknes lens is compatible with various iPhone models and even Android phones, so you won’t have to purchase another macro lens when you change phones.
One area where the Leknes macro lens really shines is in terms of working distance. At worst, you’ll be working over one inch away from your subject, and this can extend to over three inches, which is significantly better than both Moment and Xenvo options.
At its core, the Leknes lens kit is a bargain. And at that price, it’s tough to go wrong. So for anyone who just wants to dip their toes in the macro waters, pick up a Leknes 3 in 1 lens kit.
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The Best iPhone Macro Lens in 2020: Conclusion
Choosing an iPhone macro lens is hard.
But there are a few macro lenses that rise above the rest. These provide the best optical quality (often at a bargain price).
So pick out one of the macro lenses on this list, then go out and practice.
A whole world of detail awaits!
The best iPhone macro lens depends on your budget and your requirements. The Olloclip 3 in 1 macro set is excellent for more serious macro photographers, as it gives you a lot of flexibility and decent optics. On the other hand, the AiKEGlobal iPhone 4 in 1 kit or the Leknes 3 in 1 kit are great budget choices; while they don’t provide as much flexibility as the Olloclip option, you can still get strong macro images at a low price.
You should purchase an iPhone macro lens if you want to capture close-up shots of plants, flowers, jewelry, and more, but you don’t want to purchase a DSLR and a dedicated macro lens. While a dedicated macro setup will undoubtedly provide you with better image quality, an iPhone external lens can do a good job.
There are macro lenses for every iPhone out there, including the newest iPhone 11 Pro. However, you want to be careful; some macro lenses are meant for specific iPhones, and will only work when attached to the proper model. You should always check the product description before purchasing a macro lens.
If you’re on a budget, the best macro lens is the AiKEGlobal iPhone 4 in 1 kit, which is ultra-cheap but offers very good performance. The Leknes kit is another great option, and is even cheaper than the AiKEGlobal iPhone 4 in 1 kit.
You should get a macro lens for your iPhone if you want to capture close-up photos without much hassle. You can clip on an external lens and start taking macro shots immediately!
Jaymes Dempsey is a professional macro and nature photographer from Ann Arbor, Michigan; his work is published across the web, from Digital Photography School to PetaPixel.
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