"Turn your cell phone or tablet into a microscope with this amazing lens!" is what this Kickstarter promised. At just $15, the price was right too. Sale!
This week I received in the mail the "Micro Phone Lens," created by Thomas Larson, a recent graduate of the University of Washington with a BS in mechanical engineering. His invention is ridiculously simple: just a tiny disc that is made of "patent pending platinum catalyzed silicone."
You carefully take the tiny disc out of a contact lens holder, slap it on your phone or tablet's camera lens, and you are good to go. There's no glue or fixative — it is supposed to adhere due to some property of the material itself. Fire up your camera and start shooting.
That said, getting specimens to photograph properly does take some practice. Working in a science museum, I had several items available to me : leaves, bugs, toys, etc. But getting it to focus on the part of the specimen I was interested in was not as easy as it seems. It takes a steady hand to get a non-blurry picture. Better to rest or lean it on something else like a book and manipulate the item under it.
Light is also challenging, since you are holding the phone so close to the item. I found a little LED light helped, but was more to manage to capture a decent shot.
Despite several attempts, I was not super happy with the results of most of my pictures. Perhaps I was expecting too much from a $15 device. It did make me appreciate the elegance and workmanship of a real microscope.
The biggest challenge was getting the lens to stay on my devices. It didn't stick at all on my iPad 3. And it was only loosely attached to my iPhone. Several times I was shooting something and it fell off and I had to scramble to find it. I don't think it would take long for this lens to get lost, particularly if you are use it outdoors or in a typical classroom setting.
I've seen previous versions of this that had a strap that attached it to your phone. That seems much more realistic for different applications than just a lens of questionable stickiness.
Overall I thought it was an interesting toy, but needs some more work.
Here's what I was able to shoot.
- Cheap ($15)
- Easy to use
- Takes 15x magnification pictures
- Doesn't stick to your phone, so super easy to lose
- Blurry pics make me sad