How to make your own phone lens filters

April 24, 2017

We feel bad for photographers these days. All that training, all that talent and suddenly, a bigger, better, faster smartphone is invented and the 14-year-old down the block is creating professional-looking images with bokeh effects and fish-eye lens photos using only an iPhone. And getting paid thousands of pounds to post vids of himself showing off his snaps on YouTube. It’s infuriating…

But we digress. What’s unfortunate for all the pro photogs out there is a wonderful blessing for all of us talentless mere mortals, who just want to take really good pictures.

Of course, you can get a phone with a sick camera to begin with (iPhone 7Samsung Galaxy S7, anything by Huawei and look at the S8 camera’s new features), but what makes things interesting is playing around with the lens to create cool effects.

DIY coloured lenses:

Find some coloured plastic sheets from your local art shop or use plastic you might have lying around at home. Anything coloured can be cool so experiment.

Cut into a circle and put in front of the lens.

Attach to a key ring so you can make a rainbow wherever you go.

DIY atmospheric filter – used to diffuse your lens and give that lovely, soft look:

Cut the bottom off a pair of flesh-coloured semi-opaque tights and pull tight over the top of your phone. That’s all, folks!

DIY macro lens:

All you need is a drop of water for this one and voilà, a super close-up is yours.

Drop a small drop of water on the lens.

It may take a few tries but you can turn this over and point it at something cool like a bug or a plant. Presto: you’re on the shortlist for Wildlife Photographer of the Year (Just kidding. But maybe?).

And, if our tutorials aren’t enough for you, here are some more ideas to experiment with:

  • Using duct tape, an old focusing lens from a laser pointer and a bobby grip, you can create a DIY macro lens
  • Feeling adventurous? Then use an old door peephole to create a fish-eye lens (no clue where you’d get someone’s peephole from, but it’s been done!)
  • Get vintage-style snaps by creating a pinhole camera for your smartphone by poking a tiny hole in a small square of cardboard with a needle and taping that to your phone camera
  • Use a lens from old reading glasses as a magnifier on your phone camera
  • Smear Vaseline on your lens to give you a dreamy, retro, out-of-focus effect
  • Make cool colour filters for your phone by covering the camera with a piece of tape and then colouring over it using a felt tip or highlighter (coloured cellophane works too, for that coloured gel look)

Get ready to be even better than Instagram.

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Main pic: Flickr via Jay Greinsky