Richard Hay Gift Idea: Magnetic Attachable Lens and Your Smartphone

Take a look at my pic below. Magnetic-attachable lenses will transform your smartphone photos. Don’t believe it? Take a gander. This is a floppy disk, fish-eye view.

Photo credit: Richard Hay

Whether your particular flavor of smartphone is an Apple iPhone, a Windows Phone or one running Android, I bet it has a front-facing camera that is capable of capturing pictures and video. If you like taking pics, a magnetic attachable lens is ideal. It’s affordable. It’s compact.  The control features are limited — you’re not getting anything like a DSLR in a candy bar package.  But it is uber convenient.

Photo credit: Richard Hay for

The meme about the best camera being the one you have with you is so true. And it applies to smartphone cameras — to a tee.

So it only makes sense that enhancing attachments like magnetic attachable lenses come with you, too. For most subjects, obviously the stock camera on a smartphone is fine.  Funny billboard.  Amusing street sign downtown.  But it gets tricky when you are in a wider venue.

I’m thinking The Grand Canyon, here.  Or a wall mural sprawling an entire side of a building.  Imagine trying to capture the inside a church with a cavernous ceiling.  Or look at this — it’s the Biltmore estate in Ashville, North Carolina

Photo Credit: Richard Hay for

So, on a photowalk in San Francisco a few months ago, I saw one of the photographers had not brought a DSLR. Instead, she was taking pictures with the  Apple iPhone camera. That’s when I found out that she was using a snap on lens that clipped to the Apple iPhone casing and framed the camera so it would have a wide angle “fish-eye” perspective, like the shot at top.

There are magnetic lens attachments for Android phones, too.  You could probably even find one for a RIM BlackBerry.

Photo credit: Richard Hay for

I’ll tell you one thing. It works like a charm on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus.  I got a fish-eye lens from PhotoJoJo — that reminds me of the best cartoon villain name ever, but I digress.

Bottom line: These gadgets aren’t that expensive, they typically ship with rings and adhesives that will let you stick them to the back of the smartphone and frame the front-facing lens. You just snap on the portable lens itself  and you have a wide angle viewing perspective from your smartphone.

For $20 or less — that’s the going rate — this is a deal. Lenses with wide angle perspective for a pro camera are often cost more than $1,000.  So this is a cheap and easy way to add a dimension to your smartphone pictures.  And no, it is not the same as a pro camera wide angle shot.  But it is better that the stock viewing perspective built into the phones. And it is fun.

Photo credit: Richard Hay for

There are plenty of apps that will add filters and generate an effect on a taken photograph.  But a physical lens add-on actually changes what is in the picture by expanding the optical perspective of the stock camera. Nice.

For, I’m Richard Hay. Happy shopping.

Happy picture taking.

About the author

Richard Hay

Based in Mountain View, CA, Richard Hay is a test engineer at Google by day. By night, he covers sports and science for aNewDomain. None of his views reflect those of Google -- or aNewDomain's, for that matter. This opinion columnist is an intellectual free agent ...