[Yes, another non-identity and non-cloud related post about gadgets: after all, it’s Saturday! But the next one will be a serious post, I promise]
Being able at any time to pull out from your pocket a phone capable of capturing megapixel pictures & videos is awesome, but oftentimes I do miss the versatility that a full-fledged camera offers.
Few weeks ago I stumbled upon a clever little toy which narrows the gap between the two device types in ingenious & relatively inexpensive way: I am talking about magnetic snap-on lenses. I found them such a nice addition to the mobile experience that even if it is not specific to our platform (or even software in general) I thought that sharing my experience could be of service.
Above you can see the two lenses I got, a wide angle/macro and a fisheye, with the packaging and the Venue Pro with the snap-on ring mounted.
Those are tiny lenses with a magnetic base, which snap very firmly to a metal adhesive ring you stick around the camera of your phone. The ring is so thin that for all practical means it does not alter the profile of the device, and the lenses come with a small metal base you can attach to your keyring or similar (I guess that ladies and man bag aficionados would have an even easier time). You do need to have some margin around your existing lens to stick the adhesive ring, and you may need to set it up in eccentric position (as I did with my Dell Venue Pro). If your phone has a very curved profile (I am looking at you, iFriends) this may simply not work for you. Every lens comes with multiple rings, so that you can prep more than one device if you want to. Right now every lens costs 20 bucks.
Above you can see the fisheye mounted. It’s really a matter of seconds, you detach the lens from the keyring, pull out the lid and snap to the phone’s ring. If in the meanwhile you were keeping pushed the WP7 camera button, you are ready to shoot right away. The wide angle lens is in fact two lenses: if you unscrew to external hinge you get a tiny but powerful macro lens.
I am really enjoying having those lenses in my pocket, especially the fisheye and the macro as they enable you to do shoots that would be simply impossible without. Case on point: see the macro pictures below.
Above there’s a picture of a Singapore coin, without macro and with macro lens. The difference is stunning below you can see the pixel-true detail of the coin’s center.
That’s nice. Below another stunning example:
This guy is an orthocera fossil: the red rectangle on the left indicates the area captured with the macro lens on the right image. I scaled the image down to fit the blog layout, the Venue Pro has a 5Mp camera, but you can see how the image on the right reveal details on the rock imperfections that are absolutely invisible on the default lenses.
And here there’s the fisheye, of course. It’s the one I am having the most fun with! Although you need to be careful to position it on the ring correctly, here I clearly didn’t.
In the pic below you can see a comparison of the field of view you get with the default lens, with the wide range and with the fisheye, respectively. Pretty dramatic gains: in the fisheye one you can see the rail I was resting on and the roof right above my head.
The differences in interior settings are even more dramatic, with more stuff making it into the picture at the price of more and more pronounced distortion.
Well, that’s it! I have snapped tons of other pictures, but the above should be enough for giving you an idea of the potential of those little guys. Note that no lens can ever make up for a bad camera, and those are no exception to the rule, but for at least few moments they can divert attention from it… wait, isn’t that what I usually say about abuse of PowerPoint transitions?