Accessory Review: Photojojo Phone Lenses

PhotojojA few weeks ago I stopped by Beakerhead HQ to collect a Sampler Set of Photojojo smart phone lenses – my reward for getting creative with Beakerhead’s #LetGo eco-graffiti promo.

I rarely used the almost-always-disappointing camera in my old phone. So one of the early benefits I’ve seen from adding the Photojojo lenses to my kit is that I’ve started to use the camera in my new phone (Samsung Galaxy S5) on a fairly regular basis. I’m using the Google Camera app for Android, usually in HDR mode, and while I won’t be giving up my Olympus OM-D #-M5 anytime soon, I am a lot more open to the possibility of taking only my phone along on a walk, a bike ride or other adventures.

After several such outings with my smart phone and my little bag of Photojojo lenses, my impressions are somewhat mixed, depending on the lens.

Fisheye
I’ve never had a fisheye lens before. So far, I’ve found it definitely ups the fun factor when it comes to smart phone photography. And in some cases, like this view of my vegetable garden, it’s the easiest way to get the whole thing into one image. Aside from obvious line distortions and the partial “bubble frame”, the middle of the image is fairly clear.

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5 App = Google Camera in HDR mode Photojojo Lens = Fisheye

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5
App = Google Camera in HDR mode
Photojojo Lens = Fisheye

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5 App = Google Camera in HDR mode Photojojo Lens = Fisheye

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5
App = Google Camera in HDR mode
Photojojo Lens = Fisheye

One thing I’d like to play around with is the aspect ratio in Google Camera, to see whether I can get the entirety of the bubble “frame” to appear.

Macro
This is my least favourite lens from the Sampler Set. You have to get super close (i.e. within two cm / one inch) to focus and that’s not always easy to do if you’re trying to make a macro photograph of an insect or a flower. Plus, I’ve found that getting that close often means my camera is casting a shadow onto my subject matter. I’ve also found that the lens seems to have the equivalent of a super-wide aperture, so only the thinnest slice is in focus. But if you’re photographing something relatively flat in a controlled light setting, this lens produces a pretty good level of detail.

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5 App = Google Camera in HDR mode Photojojo Lens = Macro

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5
App = Google Camera in HDR mode
Photojojo Lens = Macro

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5 App = Google Camera in HDR mode Photojojo Lens = Macro

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5
App = Google Camera in HDR mode
Photojojo Lens = Macro

Wide Angle
So far, I see little utility in this lens. I can get as wide, or wider, using the panorama function in the Google Camera app. And, I won’t get the vignetting that seems to happen in the corners when I use the Photojojo lens.

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5 App = Google Camera in HDR mode Photojojo Lens = N/A

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5
App = Google Camera in HDR mode
Photojojo Lens = N/A

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5 App = Google Camera in HDR mode Photojojo Lens = Wide Angle

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5
App = Google Camera in HDR mode
Photojojo Lens = Wide Angle

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5 App = Google Camera in Panorama mode Photojojo Lens = N/A

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5
App = Google Camera in Panorama mode
Photojojo Lens = N/A

I guess if your preferred camera app doesn’t have a panorama mode or if you want to get a large group of people into one shot because you know someone will move if you try to use panorama mode, this lens could come in handy.

Polarizer
HDR mode in Google Camera does a pretty good job of dealing with glare, blown highlights and other problems that a polarizer typically minimizes. So the main thing I’ve noticed when I attach the Photojojo polarizer is that it produces an overall warmer tone to the image – a bit of a vintage feel, almost.

I have noticed some problems with light leakage when using this lens, but it’s my fault. I used one of the attachment rings with the little notch out of it to accommodate a really close built-in flash. When it comes time to use a new ring, I’ll use one without the notch and the light leakage issue should go away.

Photojojo

Smartphone = Samsung Galaxy S5
App = Google Camera in HDR mode
Photojojo Lens = Polarizer

Speaking of the attachment rings, I followed the instructions for cleaning, applying pressure, waiting at least an hour before using, etc. BUT I have found that on hot days the little metal ring often detaches from my phone when I go to remove the lens. So far, I’ve been able to re-use the same ring by sticking it back on to my smart phone. But it’s a good thing that Photojojo includes several extra metal rings, because I expect I’ll have to use a new one at some point.

SUMMARY: Individual results with Photojojo smartphone lenses will vary widely, depending on which smartphone you’re using and which camera app you’re using. Going forward, I will definitely keep using the fisheye and polarizer lenses with my Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Google Camera app. As for the macro/wide lens, I’ll keep this one in my little carrying bag to try again if I opt to play around with another camera app.

As I mentioned at the outset, I didn’t have to pay for this set of Photojojo lenses. Based on my experiences and results to this point, I’d say it’s unlikely I would spend USD$49 plus USD$10 for shipping to Canada to purchase them – certainly not to use with a Samsung Galaxy S5.

Have you tried any of the Photojojo lenses? If so, what did you think? And if you use their super fisheye or telephoto lenses, I hope you’ll leave a comment to help me decide whether to add anymore Photojojo lenses to my kit.

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3 thoughts on “Accessory Review: Photojojo Phone Lenses

  1. Pingback: Nearby Nature – May 2015 | Out and About with the GeoKs

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