DIY Project: Macro Cell Phone Lens

Remember when I told you that The Droid Tots are addicted to watching YouTube videos? Well, The Droid Lawyer might have a similar addiction — Chromecast makes watching YouTube videos very easy.

On one recent YouTube binge, I happened to run across a video trying to debunk this hairpin cell phone macro lens idea from Pinterest — the original idea is here. I’ve seen several of these pins, and really question whether this idea works, simply because of the focusing issues with the cell phone camera.

Man vs Pin takes the challenge and discovers that the myth became a reality.

I tried recreating the post, only to discover that Tot 2 removed and lost every piece of any laser pointers in our home. Unbelievable.

When I finally located and dissected a new laser pointer, I was thoroughly disappointed with the outcome. (After checking the video’s comments, I shouldn’t be surprised.)

macro cell phone

First, I discovered that my phone’s — Nexus 5 — camera lens isn’t flush-mounted against the back of the phone. There’s a microscopic (less than 2mm) edge between the camera and the phone back. This shouldn’t be an issue, since the original image shows a picture of a cell phone — probably HTC — with a bevel near the camera.

pWb6U - Imgur

I returned to the original post to see if I could find any solutions. The post suggests these additional solutions:

PS!!! The lens has to be with convex side facing away from camera and flat surface has to face the camera.

PPS!!! If you are trying to get picture and are having trouble focusing, then here are few tips for you. The camera has to be really close, closer than 1 cm(0.4 inch). I suggest you to move your camera very, (VERY!) slowly toward the object you are trying to take picture of.

Flat on. Check. Close. Check. Slow movement. Check. And I finally got this:

mt_dew_macro

That’s a macro shot of a 2 litre bottle of Diet Mt. Dew. Just in case you couldn’t tell.

Once I did manage to get this shot:

macro_computer_frame

This is the closest I ever got to something distinguishable. (That’s the frame of my Chromebook.) Eventually, I gave up trying to make this work on my Nexus 5.

I rummaged through my old phone stash and found my old HTC Droid DNA. This phone has a flush-mounted rear camera lens, which is exactly what you want to make this project work. Here are some decent — probably a 3-4 on a 10 point scale — macro shots taken with the HTC Droid DNA.

IMAG0137

A printed piece of paper.

IMAG0143

A close-up of Mrs. The Droid Lawyer’s t-shirt.

Eventually I did get this DIY project to work, but it wasn’t without the challenges. Are you ever going to use this? Probably not. It’s fairly simple to set up, but very finicky to actually get working.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.