Sunday, January 18, 2015

DIY Macro Lens

I'm sure we've all seen the wonders of macro photos on social media and blogs - especially the magic of macro photos with a cell phone. How do they do it?? Attachable macro lenses. I became obsessed with getting one for Christmas. I searched and searched and found two that I thought I might like to ask for ... until I realized that they couldn't be used with a case!! I'm clumsy and constantly dropping my phone. This would NOT end well! One said it might not even work with a screen protector (really??) and the other had a specially made case but said case wouldn't fit my phone. The iphone 5c seems to be the unicorn of phones ... or maybe just the ugly duckling - nothing works with it. I thought my dreams of having pretty macro photos was going down the drain until I wondered if I could just make my own.

It may not be perfect but I did it! And I am going to show you how.

What You Need
*depending on your phone's camera size you may need a smaller or larger hole punch and cabochon.
Heavy Card Stock
Epoxy (Etsy)
1/2" Hole Punch (Amazon)
16mm Cabochon (Etsy)
Pen (not shown)

My mom was nice enough to let me use her phone for the tutorial. Same phone, same case, just different colors.

To start set down a piece of card stock, set your phone in one corner and trace around it. I set the phone slightly over the edge of the card stock and tilted the pen under the case a little while tracing. This will give it a better fit ... making sure the card stock doesn't hang over the edges of your phone and will be easier to hold when it's finished. Cut a square following the lines you traced. I didn't but you can round out the corners if you like.

Check that the card stock square fits your phone and that it's easy to hold in your hand with the phone. If it doesn't you can trim a little off the edges.

Remove the case from your phone and use the camera hole as a guide, trace a rough outline. If you're not using a case you'll have an extra step or two. Some tracing paper held over your camera, a little tracing, and you can move onto the next step, holding the tracing paper over the card stock.

Different phones and different models will have the camera in different places but the general idea is the same. I have an iphone 5c and my camera is to the far side of this outline so I lined up my hole punch and punched a hole. Put the card stock over your phone again to make sure the hole lines up with your camera, leaving room around all sides. Also check that the cabochon fits over the hole. It should touch all sides of the card stock and shouldn't fall through.

This step uses epoxy. I'm not sure how any other glue would work since the cabochon is glass, and I know most glues don't work on glass - at least not for long and we want this to last, right?? Splurge a little and get some epoxy. This step is kind of a one shot deal. You don't want epoxy all over the front of the cabochon so be careful!

Put a small amount of epoxy around the hole in the card stock. Carefully, I repeat - CAREFULLY, center the cabochon and set it into the hole. A cabochon curves in on one side and out on the other. You want the side that curves in against your camera so set it into the hole so this happens.

*Update: I realized after making this tutorial that it would actually be easier to flip the card stock over and set the cabochon over the hole ensuring the card stock lays flat over your phone. The choice is yours; I've shown both options in the picture above.

I used my finger to hold the cabochon on the hole while the epoxy set enough to flip it over and then I used the squishy end of my tweezers to push down around the card stock.

Let the epoxy set and dry for a few hours or even overnight. Once it's completely dry it's ready for use. Take everyday pictures like usual and then break out your trusty new macro lens when needed. Simply place it over the back of your phone, cabochon centered over your camera, and since you cut the card stock to the size of your phone you're hand will just naturally hold the card stock with lens in place.

Like I said, it's not perfect. If you're looking for perfection and have the money ... and aren't a clumsy phone dropping oaf like me I recommend just buying a macro lens ... maybe even go in for a lens pack and get the fish-eye and wide angle too. But if you're looking for simple macro pics or just want a few macro nail pics I hope this helps you all save a little money. :)

Until next time,


  1. Whoa, this is REALLY a neat idea! Thanks for the tutorial!

  2. Genius! I'm going to give this a whirl!

  3. I can't believe that works, pretty awesome!! Thanks for the tutorial!

  4. wow, the things you never knew! great post


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