Disney. Pictures. Stuff. And so on…

Sunlight through a dogwood leaf

Friends, I love my iPhone. I love my iPhone camera more. As my daughter says, “Daddy, do you have to take a picture of EVERYTHING?” Yes, yes I do.

Food, trees, signs, interesting street textures and so on. But, many iPhone camera users have lamented that you can’t really get close up to anything due to its depth of field. And honestly, the iPhone is perfect for close-ups: it’s small and light with a huge viewfinder.

Enter the macro lens, a device that is essentially a magnifying glass for your phone. I know most of you know this already, but I like to be thorough. You can buy one online, they run from around $20 on up. And there are some really cool ones out there. But there are just as many plans online to make your own…and that’s what I wanted to do.

So, the quick rundown is this: find either an old disposable film camera or DVD player; extract the lens from either; attach to a small item like a bottle cap; and attach that to your phone. You have to be careful, you don’t want to scratch the camera lens and you don’t want to affix anything permanent to the phone, so there a multitude of ways to attach the lens. Here’s how I did it…

It can be difficult to find a disposable film camera these days. I’m told Dollar General still have them, but I couldn’t find one locally, so I asked around campus and got two brand new ones! I opened it and started taking it apart.

Once done, I had three lens, the camera lens, the viewfinder and the flash lens.

Hidden Mickey was not intentional…

My daughter and I have been collecting plastic bottle caps for a future project, so I found some that would work.

I cut out holes.

And attached the lens to the caps with hot glue. The camera lens is attached to the cap of a detergent bottle, which allows me to rest the phone one something while I’m taking a picture.

I don’t recommend using hot glue, as the glue is hard to manage in such a small place, and those glue strands get on everything, but it worked ok as a first try.

The trick then was to attach it to the phone. I’ve seen bent wires, rubber bands and even glueing it to an iPhone case. I had none of those things and didn’t want it glued to anything, so I used zip ties.

Bending the zip ties and crimping them with pliers, I got the shape I wanted. It took a couple of times to get it right, hot glue is very forgiving. Once shaped, I glued the lens/cap to the ties and you have what you see above. It slips on and off the iPhone easily and is pretty well lined up with the camera itself.

And as I am want to do, I ran around the house taking pictures:

Playing card before using the lens

…and after

Morning dew on the rose bush


And that’s that. The other two lens don’t really work as well, but I’ll keep tinkering. It took about an hour and cost me absolutely nothing. I’ll make more, but I was pretty tickled to get this first one built.

Follow me on Facebook, or @tattoed_dad on Twitter and Instagram to see more in the future.


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