The 10 Best Telephoto Smartphone Lenses
This wiki has been updated 11 times since it was first published in August of 2018. The photographic technology built into today’s smartphones blows away dedicated digital cameras from just a few years ago, but it can still be tough to capture a stunning shot from a considerable distance with a phone. When you attach one of these portable telephoto lenses to your mobile device, however, you’ll be able to zoom in on your subjects easily and come away with high-quality images. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
December 01, 2020:
This year saw a fair degree of change in the market for smartphone lenses. While most of the items on this list were around at the time the previous update was written, reviewers have had the opportunity to test out a lot more of what's on the market, helping to show which of these really are top-quality pieces of equipment and which are essentially toys. We feel quite confident that each of the items we're recommending here will prove to be effective at capturing good quality photos or video footage, and that they're worth the money they cost. Some of these kits include additional macro or wide angle lenses, though rest assured these sets were included for the quality of their telephoto lens alone, though the additional lens may have factored into perceived value.
One thing worth noting is that we have removed a number of the long, telescopic options, and we're seeing more 2x and 3x telephotos replacing them. The majority of the lenses that offer 16x or greater have a lot of trouble aligning with cameras in such a way that they don't create vignettes or distortion in the images. That said, the Bostionye Universal and Mactrem 9 in 1 both appear to perform fairly well and can increase the size of images by up to 20x. For even more power, the Apexel Power grants as much as 36x magnification, though again, you won't see the same reliably crisp shots that you can expect to see from a more meticulously crafted lense like the Moment Tele.
In general, there are two ways that smartphone lenses attach to cameras. They can either attach to clips that clamp onto the phone, like the Black Eye Pro Portrait or the Ztylus Z-Prime, or they can screw directly onto special phone cases like the Beastgrip Pro Series. In general, lenses that screw directly into cases have an easier time aligning with the camera, creating consistent high-quality pictures, and giving them some added stability. The downside is that these cases are often sold separately, and can be rather pricey. They're also, in general, only designed to fit on one specific model of phone, so if you upgrade to a new model, your lenses are suddenly useless until you replace the case as well. The clips, on the other hand, are a bit tougher to align, though they tend to be virtually universal in terms of what devices they can be attached to. That said, many of them do require you to take off your phone's case in order to fit them on, so it'll be exposed to potential hazards while you're shooting.
The one unique exception to this dichotomy is the Ztylus Revolver M Series. It has a magnetic wheel that sticks to the back of the company's protective case, which is included with the purchase of the lenses. This has 6 different options that can be flipped out from the disk when you're ready to take pictures, then tucked back away to protect it when it's not in use. It makes switching lenses rather convenient, and it comes at a very reasonable price, though the picture quality doesn't quite compete with high-end options available.
October 09, 2019:
With the exception of the Vorida Black and one other item with quality issues, every product on the list was no longer available, necessitating an extensive overhaul of the rankings. We made an effort to include some single-lens options as well as several kits that provide multiple lenses (such as macro, fisheye and wide angle) in addition to the standard telephoto lens.
Some models, like the Bostionye Universal and Omitium Zoom, also come with special filters for spicing up your images with enhanced colors, more dynamic contrast, vibrant lighting, and other features. Users of the Omitium model appreciate its portability and simple operation, noting the ability to quickly attach and detach the lenses while hiking, traveling or watching a sporting event.
In terms of zoom capabilities, the Apexel Power is one of the more impressive models available, and it comes with a sturdy tripod stand to ensure stability as you zero in on faraway objects. Reports suggest that it’s an effective lens for capturing images of animals and nature with exceptional clarity.
Smart Evasion Creativity Using this versatile telephoto lens, you’ll be able to generate sharp, detailed portraits in a close-up format, capturing the essence of your subject’s character without worry of distortion or inaccurate colors. It also allows you to zoom in and focus on objects at a distance, making it useful for animal and bird watching. smartevasion.com
Moondog Labs Anamorphic Capturing images and video in anamorphic format used to require expensive equipment, but Moondog Labs has set out to remove that burden. These sleek, high-end lenses enable any talented cinematographer with a mobile phone to produce professional-quality films and photos. moondoglabs.com