Consumer Reports tests smartphone lenses

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Forget about buying a fancy camera for your upcoming vacation. Now there are special lenses that go right on your smartphone. (WPVI)

Forget about buying a fancy camera for your upcoming vacation. Now there are special and inexpensive specialty lenses that go right on your smartphone.

Consumer Reports tried out some of these add-ons and has advice just in time for your summer vacation.

The new smartphone lenses run the gamut, from macro lens to fish-eye and soft-focus to telephoto - a lens that brings faraway subjects closer to the camera.

There are also wide-angle lenses so you can include more of the scene in your frame.

"What's exciting about these lenses is they let you expand the capabilities on your smartphone and let you get creative at a reasonable price," said Terry Sullivan, Consumer Reports Camera Editor.

Of the four brands Consumer Reports tried out, Photojojo's are the least expensive. Each of its lenses goes for $20 dollars.

Lensbaby makes a soft-focus lens for $60 dollars. Olloclip offers two lenses - wide-angle and telephoto - in a kit for $100 dollars.

And the Mobi lens has a nice wide-angle lens on its own for $30 dollars.

That's a far cry from traditional lenses, which can set you back hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

"There are a couple of drawbacks in using these lenses. For starters, they cover up the phone's flash," said Sullivan.

You can work around losing the smartphone's flash by adding a flash like the Xuma Mobile LED. It costs $35 dollars and has two different brightness settings as well as a slow strobe.

Still, don't expect perfect results from these lenses. You won't get professional features like high clarity on the edges of the fish-eye lens photos or image stabilization, which compensates for your hand's slight movements.

The lenses Consumer Reports tried out will fit most iPhones, but not as many fit Android phones.

So before you buy any lenses, make sure they are compatible with the phone you have. And keep in mind you will have to remove the phone's case to use these accessories.

For more information on smartphone lenses, visit
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