The camera on phones has definitely improved over the years, going from a blurry afterthought to a main feature and a genuine buying point of the phone. However, the cameras are still one dimensional in the fact that they don’t zoom in well and they don’t have much versatility.
instaLens aims to give your phone’s camera that extra functionality you need by allowing you to attach a lens via a small magnetic circular strip that fits around your camera. The lens we were given was the instaLens Macro/Wide lens which is great as it gives you two very different functionalities in one!
instaLens Wide zooms your camera out by about 33% without hurting the resolution and instaLens Macro gives you the ability to take pictures at around 10mm away, something that your regular phone camera cannot cope with.
instaLens comes very neatly packaged; it comes in a small cardboard box which carries the logo on the outer box and some very funky graphics on the inner box. Inside the box you will find your lens in a lovely microfiber bag that matches the graphics featured on the packaging, your magnetic rings to stick to your phone, a funny booklet on the specs of the lens including a dictionary like description, a setup guide and finally, your warranty.
Adding the fitting is very simple, instaLens give you three rings as standard and they work just like a sticker, once the ring is on you will have a tough time getting it off unless you are actually trying to pull it away. The lens then sticks to the ring via magnets and although it doesn’t feel entirely secure, it will stay on as long as you aren’t waving your phone around!
The instaLens Wide is great for taking pictures of scenic shots or taking a group photo where space is limited. It adds 0.67x outward zoom to your camera, causing the sharpness and quality to be degraded slightly as is to be expected with a small wide-angle lens, but when you use instaLens Wide for photographs of landscapes then it’s pretty difficult to beat in terms of add-on phone lenses.
The instaLens Macro is where instaLens has really come up trumps. The Macro lens works by screwing off the top half of the lens to separate the two apart and when you put just the Macro lens on, you will notice you can’t focus on anything that isn’t up about 1-2cm away from your phone due to the 10mm – 23mm focal range. Once you are right up close the quality of the photo is extraordinary; regular items look amazing, sometimes I find myself taking a close up picture of a biscuit just because I can!
The difficulty with the Macro lens is the issue of how close you need to get to whatever it is you are capturing to make it work, then you may have an issue of shaking around a lot! Taking pictures of nature can work really well here, but if there is any wind then you will struggle to get a good picture. You will probably struggle to even get the correct focus as you can’t sync yourself to the wind.
You may notice dark corners on your screen when you put on the instaLens for the first time; this is normal. The way to fix this issue is to move the lens around- you won’t get it perfectly centred first time. instaLens is great, but only if you remember to use it! I find that because taking pictures is not one of my top priorities, it becomes easy to forget about. Sometimes, when I have remembered to take it on a walk, it becomes a pain to have to get it out and set it up properly and sometimes by that point, the moment could have passed!
However, the value for money that the instaLens Macro/Wide gives with having two very versatile lenses in one is incredible, and the Macro lens on its own is absolutely fantastic. You will easily find yourself just pointing the camera at random objects just to see what it looks like up close. I think that the Wide will be great for those who take lots of pictures on scenic walks and will have it ready at all times too. The average user will probably just love the novelty of the Macro lens and that’s fine too!