Review: Jelly Lens "close up"
And now for something completely different. From the All About Symbian Friday Review Cupboard comes this, the Jelly Lens "Close up", claimed to help fixed focus-lensed camera phones shoot macro photos. It's ultra cheap and ultra low tech, but is it any good and will it help budding nature and still life photographers who own the EDoF-lensed Nokia C6-01, C7 and E7? I take one for the team and settle down to look at the infamous 'Jelly Lens'.
The story so far: the EDoF 'full focus' lenses in the cameras of many of the latest Nokia phones are great for 'normobs'. They shoot good enough photos most of the time without any skill being needed whatsoever. But they have one fundamental weakness: they can't shoot anything close than about 40cm. Ruling out flowers, meals, ornaments and smaller pets as possible subjects.
But what if a magnifying glass were to be placed over the lens of (in this case) the Nokia E7? Would it suddenly, magically, acquire a different depth of field? Would flowers and other macro subjects now be possible? This is the idea behind the 'Jelly Lens' series, available all over the Internet (e.g. here) from Far Eastern sources (naturally). There are lenses for various optical effects, but the one I'm interested in is this, the 'close up':
Having it on a little lanyard is in theory a good idea, but the E7 doesn't have a lanyard point so it's rather wasted in this case! Breaking it open, we find a miniature magnifying glass set in plastic, with a 'jelly' (goo) circular pad around it, plus a tethered plastic cover to stop too must dust getting onto the lens and onto the jelly:
The idea of the jelly/goo is that it's sticky enough, in theory, to hold itself against the flush rear surface of a camera phone, effectively adding its optics to those of the device itself:
So, with the Jelly Lens 'attached', it was time to go shooting with the E7. And in traditional 'good news, bad news' fashion, I'll lead off with the good. Here's a shot I managed of some really tiny flowers, up close and personal on the Nokia E7. Amazing, eh? Click through to see (or download) the full multi-megapixel image:
Now the bad news. This was the best of about 20 photos, most of which were blurred messes for a number of reasons:
- The depth of field with the Jelly Lens attached is tiny, only a couple of centimetres, even with the EDoF processing in the device (one can only imagine what the algorithms make of the jellied-up images!)
- The aforementioned small depth of field and fixed focus nature of the EDoF cameras meant that all subjects had to be at this precise distance, around 8 or 9cm. Less then 7cm or more than 10cm and the subject was unrecognisably blurry.
- The Jelly Lens, even in pristine condition, wasn't sticky enough to stay on for long, at least not on the smooth rear surface of the E7. Having a tethered protective cover didn't help either, meaning extra weight 'pulling' the Jelly Lens off.
In addition, the jelly wasn't even sticky enough to retain the protective cover most of the time, when not in use, and this would keep falling away, exposing the jelly to more dirt and dust and making it less sticky - which meant that the cover fell away more, which meant..... and so on.
It's hard to beat up on a product which costs less than a pint of beer, but it's also hard to recommend it to anyone. Worth a couple of quid if you too fancy playing around and experimenting, but don't get your hopes up too high and know that the Jelly Lens will be consigned to your gadget drawer 24 hours after first trying it, never to see the light of day again....
Steve Litchfield, All About Symbian, 8 April 2011
Published by Steve Litchfield at 6:20 UTC, April 8th