Up close and personal

I'm getting my point-and-shoot (Canon G9) back this week, as my daughter has returned from across the pond. I didn't miss it that much, although I will admit I'm beginning to look for a replacement for it. What I need is a rangefinder-type camera with interchangeable lenses and full size sensor that won't break the bank. I think technology is close on that.

But in the mean time, I'd like to think I've made some progress with another camera, my iPhone. Yes, it's only a 5 megapixel camera, and I already envy the 8mp in the new iPhone 4S. I've been working hard and trying to understand how to get the most out of the world of apps out there. I'm an avid Instagramer (pixellarry).

All apps aside, I started playing around with auxiliary lens for it after looking at all the available accessories, including ones that do what I'm going to tell you about.

A year or so ago, I picked up a small lens at a yard sale for a buck or so. I'll do that sometimes and have consequently collected quite an array of camera junk. I suspect this lens might have been for a movie camera, or maybe even a loupe. I  haven't really investigated. On the business end is a lens marked "Foth, Anistigmat, 1:3,5, f = 75m/m". I know Foth made cameras in the 1930's.

So, after reading an article, I unscrewed the two elements on the lens and tried holding them up to the lens on the iPhone. One lens allowed for Macro (extreme close-ups) and other for a distorted wide-angle fish-eye type lens. Very cool.

I've made a few photos with the close-up lens (including the Xmas light bulb shown at the top and bottom photo at left). I haven't tried the other yet, except to shoot the test photos at left, but I will. I also tried using a little pocket magnifier. And I think I have a close-up lens kit for a medium format camera up in the closet somewhere I'll have to investigate.

The drawbacks seem to be that if you have fat fingers it can be difficult to hold the lens and take a photo at the same time. And if your auxilliary lens is small, it's tough to hold in place without getting the edge of the lens or your finger in the photo.

My point is that you should experiment. Sometimes a happy accident is better than thoughtful research.