iPhone Macros

I quite like macro photography.

  • It can be done in many places, often where you’d least expect.
  • It involves finding interesting subjects in places that don’t obviously have much to photograph or even look at.
  • It can often reveal interesting and unexpected things in the otherwise familiar.

These are all things I like in ‘normal’ photography, but macro photography kind of specialises in these areas.

Dedicated macro lenses, though, are expensive. I don’t have one. I use the Nikon 35mm f1.8 DX lens (Amazon UK, Amazon US) for all my DSLR photography, but it can’t focus very close, so it’s very little use for macro photography. I often use my iPhone too, most often with Hipstamatic, but again, it can’t focus very close.

With the addition of one small and reasonably priced accessory, though, I can take photos like this, using my iPhone:

The extra piece of kit is a loupe, of the sort used by jewellers. I have one for inspecting pen nibs, but it now goes everywhere with me, ready to grab a quick macro at a moment’s notice. The brand to look for is Belomo (Amazon UK, Amazon US) – their 10x Triplet works well for me. There’s a 20x one too, which I haven’t tried. It it works, though, it would probably be quite tricky to use.

I don’t even fix it in place, just hold it against the lens with one hand, using the other hand for the shutter. It takes a little practice, but isn’t at all difficult. It makes the focussing very close, so you really have to get right up to the subject – almost touching. The depth of field is tiny, too – only a couple of millimetres or so are in focus. Results are a bit hit and miss, but the hits can be really good.

Both of the examples were taken with Hipstamatic – the square crop fits well into the circular loupe, making it a bit easier to hold in the right place.

I picked my loupe up on eBay some time ago, at a good price. There should be an ad for them on Amazon UK further up the page, but the price seemed a little high when I posted this. If you’re in the US, you can get them from Richard’s Pens at a reasonable price. In the UK, shipping from Richard’s Pens may make them a bit too expensive, so you’re probably stuck with checking what’s available currently on eBay and Amazon.