Easy Macro — compatible with most smartphones

If you love macro photography and the simple things in life, Easy-Macro is the rubber band for you. It’s a blue rubber band with an embedded acrylic lens that gives you roughly 1:3.5 magnificationThat’s it. 

The minimalist design of the Easy-Macro has several benefits. First, it fits on just about any camera phone. That means you won’t have to shell out for another one when you upgrade your phone, and you can lend it to a friend if you're  so inclined. Second, it’s easy to carry. You can just leave it on your phone, or you can slip it around the credit-card-size plastic card it comes with and carry it in your wallet. Finally, it’s cheap. While $15 may seem pricey for a rubber band, it’s pretty reasonable when you consider that this one comes with a versatile mobile macro lens built in. 

I don’t know what kind of magical glue the Easy-Macro people use to embed the lens in the band, but in my tests it stood up to a good amount of stretching with no apparent weakening of the bond. Only long-term use will determine how durable it is, however.

With the Easy-Macro fitted, there’s some slight softness and color fringing at the edges and very minor distortion at maximum magnification. In general, though, images are pretty sharp.
The fact that there’s no ring or shade around the Easy-Macro lens means two things: It doesn’t create an obvious shadow or reflection on the subject, as some other mobile macro lenses do, but is can be susceptible to lens flare. Shade it from harsh light with your hand and you’ll be fine.
In this shot of a seaweed snack some areas are blurred while others are sharp. This is because the subject doesn't lie perfectly flat but is slightly crinkled, so not all of it falls within the Easy-Macro’s limited depth of field.
And here’s the Easy-Macro’s take on a slice of tomato. If for no other reason, you could buy this lens to break up the relentless monotony of lunch photographs.

To test the Easy-Macro, I put it on an Apple iPhone 4S and mounted the phone on a support arm. All test images were taken with the Camera+ app. It’s a good idea to use an app that lets you separate the focus point from the exposure point when you’re taking macro shots. It’s also advisable to use some kind of support and a self-timer, since with macro shots, camera shake can be a serious issue when you’re shooting with a lightweight phone. 

The Easy-Macro gives you very shallow depth of field — about an eighth of an inch. The card that comes with the lens advises holding the camera phone about 1 ¼ inches away from your subject, but I found ¾ inch to be about right.


The Easy-Macro is 10 percent material and 90 percent cleverness, and will give you a simple way to take a fresh look at the world through your smartphone.  If you’re looking for an inexpensive macro lens for your camera phone, you won’t find one that’s better, or more simply designed. Even when you’re not taking pictures, it comes in handy as a magnifier. Personally, I haven’t enjoyed a rubber band this much since Santa put that rubber band ball in my stocking.

What we like: Fits nearly any camera phone, pocket and wallet at $15.

What we don't like: Images show slight softness and color fringing at the edges, and minor distortion at maximum magnification.

Aimee Baldridge is a writer and photographer based in New York. For more than a decade she has specialized in covering imaging technology, digital media, and the world of photography. You can see more of her work at www.aimeebaldridge.com