If you follow me on Facebook you’ll possibly have seen me periodically posting about how my neighborhood in Kenmore is overrun by wild bunnies in the summer, and this year is no exception. One of the things I quite enjoy about the walk up and down our hill when I’m doing my daily commute is looking for bunnies–whether they’re hanging out openly in someone’s yard, or ducking under bushes, or what have you.
I take pictures of them when I can. Like, say, this one!
You might notice, though, that this picture is kind of soft and fuzzy, and I mean that in a “not just because it involves a bunny” kind of way. The reason for this, I have discovered, is because the iPhone (at least up through the 6’s, as well as the non-Plus 7, according to specs on apple.com) uses digital zoom. And digital zoom gets problematic the closer in you try to zoom.
The common wisdom I’ve seen is that if you want to take a pic with an iPhone, you need to not zoom at all, and crop to get what you want. This is fine if what you’re taking a pic of is pretty close to you. Like this bunny! (This remains my very favorite bunny pic I’ve taken to date.)
But if a bunny is more than two or three feet away from you, you kinda have to zoom to shoot it. Because if you try to get closer, it will very likely sense your presence and bolt.
Which brings me to how I saw Dreamwidth friend cruisedirector posting her own bunny pics! She’s got some nice ones here and here and here, and in general, I’m rather jealous of her zooming abilities! She informed me that Samsung rather gets the credit for this, and if I google zoom specs for Samsung phones, I see things like “10x optical zoom” for the Galaxy S4 and yeah, that’d be why she’s taking better bunny pics than I am. ;D
So then I got all “so what can I do to solve this problem?”
Googling around led me to learning that there are assorted third-party lenses that have been made for the iPhone. The top two contenders I saw in my research were the Olloclip and the Moment, and of the two, camera nerds I read up on have been saying that the Moment is the superior lens.
The problem for me though is that the way the Moment works, they expect you to glue a mounting plate onto the back of your device, and screw the lens into that. I was rather dubious about this–and moreover, decided that I didn’t want to go hunting for one of these, even though I’d read in an article I found posted on the Seattle Times from 2016 that indicated that these lenses would be on sale at the Apple Store in Bellevue.
So instead I opted for the Olloclip. And specifically, I bought this thing, which gives me a telephoto lens and a wide angle one. The telephoto one is the one I’m interested in, since it gives me some optical zoom capability… 2x optical zoom as well as a shallower depth of field. It’s super-easy to pop onto the phone, and I can flip it around to use the wide angle lens. Both lenses can line up with the front and back cameras.
The one drawback here is that I do have to take the phone’s case off, but I’m okay with that.
And so far, the one thing I’m not entirely happy with is that test shots I’ve done with notable amounts of sky in them have caused there to be a bit of a dark halo effect in the corners. So to account for this, I will need to practice aiming and then cropping to get rid of that.
Also, if I change phones and want to continue to have an external lens, I’ll need a different one because this one is specifically designed for the iPhone 6. So far though I’m okay with that, too! My current phone is still perfectly lovely and I won’t be updating it in the near future.
So for now this little toy should be perfectly lovely for my bunny-photographing needs, and I will also be taking it to Quebec with me–because I’m hoping the improved zoom will let me do better at taking pics of musical performances, too. 😀
Here are a bunch of test pics I’ve done with the lens clip so far (and if the thumbnails aren’t coming through for some reason, you can find them directly on flickr here):
Happy with the purchase so far. Playing with this is already fun! Looking forward to learning more!