Add optical muscle to your phone camera
Smartphone cameras are limited by the original specifications, but these accessories can help take better pictures
For all the talk about “DSLR-quality” photographs, the fact is that the cameras we have on most phones, while better than ever before, still have some way to go before they can match the versatility and consistency that a real DSLR brings in terms of adding lenses. But there are ways to coax more out of your phone camera, be it in terms of improved image quality, zoom or even the good old flash. Invest in the following accessories and you will see your phone getting a new dimension altogether in the camera department.
DxO One ($499 (Rs34,291; shipping extra)
The DxO One camera add-on, currently available only for the iPhone, is perfect for those who want even better quality photographs. This is a small module, and it plugs into the lightning port of the iPhone. The phone’s display is used as a viewfinder. It adds a 20.2-megapixel camera with f/1.8 aperture and a 1-inch sensor, and also has its own battery and charging port, so it does not drain the battery of the phone when attached and in use. We would have loved the zoom and flash features too, but even without it, this is one of the most compact and powerful add-ons to a phone camera. The image quality is exceptionally good too.
Hasselblad True Zoom (Rs 19,999)
The Moto Z might or might not herald the arrival of modular phones in the world, but it certainly has revealed a neat camera attachment for a smartphone. Made by the iconic Hasselblad camera company, the True Zoom mod attaches magnetically to the back of the Moto Z and the Moto Z Play phones, and adds a high-quality 12-megapixel sensor with 10x optical zoom, a Xenon flash and twin microphones. And you don’t need any apps to use it—just attach it on to the back of the phone and see it morph into a proper camera with its own shutter buttons as well. The catch? Its low-light performance is not the greatest.
Joby GripTight Gorillapod (Rs 1,899)
Getting tripods for phone cameras can be a bit tricky. Yes, you actually do need tripods for those moments when you want to shoot an extended video or just want to keep the phone stable for a series of snaps. One of the most versatile tripods for any phone is the GripTight from Joby’s GorillaPod series. Not only can it be used like a conventional tripod (just put it on the ground), but thanks to its movable joints, you can also twist it and place it on branches and other objects, allowing you to get a different perspective. It does have a firm grip on the phone, so there’s no chance of it slipping out. You do not have to worry about optical image stabilization on your phone’s camera, because this will remain rock-steady anyway.
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-QX30 Lens Style Camera (Rs 18,490)
There will be those who will be surprised at seeing this almost two-year-old veteran in this list, but the fact is that rather than the almost comical zoom attachments that come for most phones, the DSC-QX30 actually adds a full-fledged camera with real 30x optical zoom to your phone. The device connects to Android devices wirelessly and adds a 20.4-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor to your camera. The connecting process can be iffy, the image-capturing process can take time and you can only use the device through the Sony PlayMemories Mobile (free for Android), but the massive zoom and image quality that this lens provides puts it in a league of its own, age notwithstanding.
Lume Cube ($79.99 (shipping extra))
One of the biggest problems any smartphone user faces in the camera department is the general inadequacy of the flash for use in low-light conditions. The Lume Cube accessory tries to address this—it is a tiny but very bright light that provides up to 1,500 lumens and can be used with a phone. You can mount it on your phone, on a tripod or leave it underwater if you wish (it is waterproof). It has its own battery and can work in sync with your device using the Lume app (free; Android and iOS). There are 10 brightness settings and best of all, the cube itself is small enough to be slipped into your pocket.
*Prices may vary.