There are a number of macro lenses made for the iPhone and most of them work really well. The problem is that many of them require that you either use a special case that the lens screws into or you have to use some other kind of contraption to secure the lens to your iPhone. A macro lens gives you the ability to take pictures from a short distance and is best used to capture small detail. Flowers are a popular subject for macro lenses, but you can find some other very creative shots taken with them.
The Easy-Macro Cameraphone Lens by Muses Consolidated, LLC, has to be one of the most simple and effective designs for a camera accessory I've ever encountered. It's a misnomer to call it a cover, as it is actually just a very thick band that stretches across your phone with a lens mounted into the band. The hardest part is aligning the lens correctly, so that the band doesn't cut across your iPhone lens.
The lens offers 4x magnification and is made from optical-grade acrylic. The synthetic rubber band is 1mm thick and 3/8 inch (9.5mm) wide. You simply stretch the band around the iPhone and position the macro lens over your phone camera lens, and you are ready for your closeup, Mr. DeMille. (I don't recommend you take macro pictures of people, unless you are documenting pores or other unsavory skin conditions, although you can get a nice shot of your fingerprints.) The Easy-Macro has been tested with a variety of devices from the fourth-generation iPod touch up to 10-inch tablets. It is only limited by how much you can stretch the band, but guaranteed to work on devices up to eight inches wide. Currently, the band is available only in blue (except for some special lenses made in red for Lancôme Paris), but Muses Consolidated is investigating the use of other colors.
I used the Easy-Macro on my iPhone 4 and tried it horizontally and vertically, with and without my Mophie Juice Pack battery case. I crawled around a local pond amidst the goose poop and other unidentifiable brown goo to capture pictures of amazingly small flying creatures and teeny flowers. I even made friends with a damselfly who elected to pose on my knee for all of 10 seconds!
Unfortunately, the Juice Pack turned out to be a tad too thick to use the Easy-Macro length-wise and I tore the band while wrestling it on. Adam Hicks, inventor and president, thinks that it was a manufacturing defect and that the band should not have torn as it did. You can see from the picture below that it did not tear off the lens, but the band itself developed a hole. The only reason you might want to put the Easy-Macro on length-wise is if you want to use the iPhone flash, which actually puts too much glare in a closeup photo, but it was interesting to test it.
The lens is secured to the band with glue and to date, each lens is hand-glued to the band. The glue is their secret sauce and works very well. Muses Consolidated will gladly replace the product if it accidentally tears as it did for me. The replacement product sent did not exhibit the same problem, but the band got stretched out from using it on my thick Mophie case. It took a day for it to contract to fit the iPhone without a case again.
In the rare case of a broken band, Muses Consolidated requests that you send the broken product back and they'll replace the Easy-Macro free within 30 days of purchase. After that time, they will replace the product for US$5 (plus shipping for International customers) as part of their Customer for Life program.
The site claims, "with Easy-Macro you get a perfect macro shot every time." Unfortunately, that's just not true. As with any new lens, you need to practice to get a good macro shot in which the focus is where you want it, plus learning to hold the iPhone perfectly still is a black art. Once you've mastered shaky hands, uneven surfaces and adjusting the lens correctly, then you can get a perfect macro shot every time.
A successful Kickstarter campaign for a redesigned lens was completed in September. The product, expected to ship in 2014, includse a redesigned lens with more contact between the lens and band. Muses Consolidated's hope is to reduce the labor-intensive assembly time.
The Easy-Macro sells for $15.00 and comes wrapped around credit card-sized laminated cards with instructions. I think the current product is a good choice for a holiday gift because it's inexpensive, provides hours of fun and is easy for anyone to use; plus it costs very little to ship to someone. You can see a selection of a photographs I made in the slideshow below.
Easy-Macro photos by ilene hoffman