Clip-on Lenses

I have been trying to upgrade the flashlight wiki lately by getting some of the latest LED’s and taking pictures of them for the site. The problem is that LED’s are very small. My old camera took great macro pictures, but I lost it. It’s replacement wasn’t quite as good. And even my latest camera still has pretty lousy macro. My iPod has a camera on it, but it isn’t really made for macro. But they make some really cheap lenses you can clip onto a phone or tablet that can help out. Some of them will turn your phone into a microscope or telescope, but they have some very inexpensive sets of lenses ($4 direct from China, $10 or so at Amazon) which include a macro lens, wide angle lens, and a fish-eye lens. I really just wanted the macro lens, but for $4 I will take the other two.

I won’t bore you with LED photos and my newest LED’s haven’t arrived yet anyway, but the higher security currency of the last few years has incorporated microprinting in various parts of the bill that make it harder to counterfeit money. You would have a hard time finding the printing by just looking, but it is there. On a $20 bill there is some writing just to the left of Andrew Jackson, close to the bottom border. Here is a small version of a picture I took with the iPod without using any kind of special lens. I can get within a couple of inches of the bill before the camera can’t focus.

$20 bill microprinting without lens

$20 bill microprinting without lens


I don’t know if the macro lens magnifies that much or whether it just allows you to get the camera much closer to the subject. This can be a problem because you can end up blocking the light, but I can get less than inch away with the macro lens and take this picture, which is about 4 times the magnification of the picture above.

$20 bill microprinting using macro lens

$20 bill microprinting using macro lens

And the camera itself is taking 8 megapixel pictures, so if I take the full size picture above and crop it to what I want, I can get even more magnification, though you pick up some noise:

$20 bill microprinting cropped from full size picture with macro lens

$20 bill microprinting cropped from full size picture with macro lens

I did a calculation and I think the text is about 1/90th of an inch tall.

The fish-eye lens is kind of neat too. I’m not sure how many times I will want to use it, but it can be nice if you can’t back up much and need to take a picture of something big, like the tallest building in Atlanta:

Fish-eye lens picture of Bank of America Building

Fish-eye lens picture of Bank of America Building

You can crop out the circle of the lens if you want and end up with a pretty decent picture, but still some funky distortion:

AT&T building cropped from the original fish-eye lens photo

AT&T building cropped from the original fish-eye lens photo

Lastly, here’s the lens in a picture of itself with the clip pointing down to the right:

iPod touch with lens clipped in place

iPod touch with lens clipped in place

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