Macro iPhoneography Tools & Tips

A lot of people are skeptical that my macro photos are taken with an iPhone. With the help of some tiny lenses, you can end up with big results. Here are my macro iPhoneography tools and tips:


3-IN-ONE lens system for your iPhone 4S/4 that fits in your pocket

I recently picked up a new macro lens for the iPhone 4, called the Olloclip. I first came across it on the Kickstarter website and quickly became a backer.

I love how easy it is to attach to the iPhone 4 and take off when I’m done. It is very sturdy and I don’t worry about it falling off. This is my main lens and I haven’t had any problems and highly recommend it! You can buy the Olloclip macro lens from their website, or your local Apple Store, Best Buy or Target.

My first first macro lens was purchased from Photojojo. It is very similar to the Olloclip macro in lens quality and performance. It is magnetic and snaps on to the back of the phone. It is lightweight, and small (both a positive and negative).

Unfortunately, the metal washer that sticks to the glass back of the iPhone 4 lost its stickiness. They give you about 4 washers, but each one eventually became loose over time. I think this happened from taking photos out in the heat/sunlight for hours at a time, and a combination of the heat and my sweat caused the problem. Many people don’t have this problem, and I think the strength of the magnet might also be a factor.

Olloclip & Photojojo macro lens test, side by side:

Here are some test shots I took of the same subjects with both the Olloclip and Photojojo macro lenses:

Olloclip & Photojojo macro lens comparisonOlloclip & Photojojo macro lens comparison

As you can see, they both are great. However, I prefer the Olloclip’s design and ease of use.

Ricky’s Macro iPhoneography Tips:

The light must be right.

  • Best results and colors will be shooting when the sun is low in the horizon (early morning or sunset).
  • Try finding a shaded area if the sun is high and bright, or else your photos will be washed out or full of highlights.
  • Experiment shooting subjects that are backlit for vivid colors and sharp results.
  • Light, light, light!

Steady. Breathe. Tap.

  • Hold the phone steady, about 1 inch from your subject.
  • Try to hold the phone with both hands, or use your surroundings to rest the phone for more support.
  • Compose carefully. Tap to focus, and then quickly take the picture once your camera app focuses.
  • If you can’t get a sharp photo: you are too close or too far, there’s not enough light, or the phone is not still enough.

Practice makes perfect.

  • Take many shots. Review afterwards to delete the blurry ones.
  • Be patient. Just because your subject just flew away, doesn’t mean it won’t be back 30 seconds later to say “hello.”
  • Explore the Instagram #macro feed and learn from others. Ask questions to see “how they did it.” It’s a positive, photo-friendly community.

20 thoughts on “Macro iPhoneography Tools & Tips

  1. Rickyohead: what camera do you use when using your macro lens? Do you use the default camera camera or do you use another. Second, do you use the zoom feature?

    • Hi Laurie!

      I primarily use the native camera app for the iPhone. I also have Camera+, but only use it if I want to have more control over focus & exposure areas.

      I recently started to experiment with zooming, but noticed the clarity goes down if you zoom too far. 99% of my shots on IG are without any digital zoom. If you do zoom, try to stay under 25% (on the zoom slider).

  2. Another good tip is to hold your finger on the shoot button (sorry, don’t know if this is the proper English word) and release the finger once the focus and composition is right! That way it may be less risk of shaking the iphone while the photo is taken. At least this works well for me.

  3. Thanks for the tipsc Ricky! I recently got my 1st macro+wide angle lens from photojojo and still experimenting with it. I was kinda bummed about show close u need to get in order to get a good macro picture, it kinda limits your view when focusing on a subject and blurrs really fast. More tips are always welcomed 😉

  4. Ricky, thanks for all the great information. I must admit, I couldn’t figure out how people were getting great macro pics with iPhone but your info here has been very helpful and love your pics on instagram! 

  5. Thanks for the tips! They have been great! Im still having a problem fitting everything into a macro lens, it seems the closer i get to the object the narrower the is there a way to get around that? Or is it just a matter of trial and error!

    • Hi Zaina,

      Yes, you have to get very close to your subject with these macro lenses for the iPhone. I recommend trying new angles, low and from the side to try to show more. Ex: for a flower, get low on the ground and shoot from the side instead of straight down. Also look for interesting background elements that are blurred to help frame the shot. Good luck!

  6. Quick question for all you photo savvy people: do you know if these macro lenses would work for an iPad? I do not have an iPhone and I don’t think I’ll be getting one any time soon, but I’d really love to give these macro cameras a “shot”. (pun intended) Any thoughts on this at all?

      • I have a magnetic ring stuck to my MacBook camera for use with my Photojojo lenses – so yes, it works on anything you can stick the magnetic rings to! Fun to use with Skype, etc.

  7. Your photos are amazing. I checked to ollo site and there was no mention, do you know if the lens would work with the latest ipod touch. I dont own an iphone so I dont have a frame of reference for the camera size. Thanks in advance for any feedback.

    • Hi Nichole, I’m pretty sure it only fits the iPhone 4/4S. I believe the iPod touch is very slim and has a curved design. Sorry! Try the Photojojo macro lens…it should work fine.

  8. Ricky – Thanks for the feedback on my post and for opening my eyes a little wider about the possibilities of this Olloclip lens. Maybe my own fear of insects had me rule them out? I had to get so close with my few flower experiments that I thought there’d be no way an insect would let me get that close. How do you manage that?? Great tips as well!

    • Hi Katherine! Thanks for stopping by as well. These macro lenses have decreased my fear of spiders, insects, etc. I’ve learned you can get real close and appreciate their beauty. They won’t bother you unless you bother them (try to squish them).

      By best tip is to be patient, many times they’ll fly away but they often land close by. They are curious about us humans as well. And for every 1 great sharp capture, I probably have 5 blurry rejects. 😉

  9. How do you use the exposure box and focus box that pops up when using the macro lens? So far it appears to me I can only use the macro at a distance of 1″ from the subject . This is very limiting. I don’t see that the focus box does anything?
    Can I move farther away and take pics of larger subjects with this lens?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s