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What is a macro camera on a phone?

Thinking of upgrading your smartphone with a better camera? Macro may be one of the terms you’ve seen. We’ve put together this guide to tell you everything you need to know about macro lenses.

Read on to find out what a macro lens is, how macro modes work on smartphones, which phones have them, and where to find macro lenses.

If you want to learn more about smartphone photography, be sure to check out our telephoto zoom guide, as well as our list of the best camera phones available today.

What is a macro lens?

A macro lens is a camera lens designed to take close-up pictures of small subjects and capture tiny details.

Strictly speaking, a macro lens should have a reproduction ratio of at least 1:1, meaning a 50mm bug will appear 50mm long on the camera sensor. However, not all macro lenses or modes marketed as “macro” meet this criteria.

Although the term traditionally refers to cameras, nowadays you can find macro lenses right in your pocket on many mid-range and flagship smartphones, meaning you can capture incredibly detailed images of small things. and everyday objects without a camera or sophisticated kit.

What is a macro camera on a phone?

It’s not uncommon to find a macro camera in your smartphone these days, although how each manufacturer achieves those macro results may vary.

Some phones come with dedicated macro lenses, while others simply adjust the focal length on wide or ultra-wide lenses already used in the camera to match those required for macro photography.

Smartphones and digital cameras can also use algorithms to achieve results similar to those captured with a true macro lens, such as that attached to a DSLR.

If your phone doesn’t have a macro mode, you can also find clip-on lenses on the web. Of course, results will vary depending on the objective.

Which phones have macro cameras?

You can find macro cameras on Android and iOS smartphones.

Apple uses the ultra-wide sensor in the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max to capture macro images. All you have to do is move up to 2cm away from your subject, and the camera will automatically stay in focus to capture highly detailed images. However, we noticed that the sensor lost some of its usual bokeh in macro mode when we tested the iPhone.

Samsung includes a Focus Enhancer feature that does the same on the S22 Ultra.

Despite being one of the most advanced camera phones around, the Pixel 6 Pro lacks a dedicated macro mode. However, you may be able to use the telephoto lens for macro-like results.

Other smartphones with macro modes include the Oppo Find X5 Pro, Xiaomi 12, and OnePlus Nord CE 2, to name a few we tested.

What is a macro lens on a camera?

Your camera’s ability to achieve a 1:1 reproduction ratio depends on the focal length of its lens. Most macro lenses designed for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have a focal length between 50mm and 200mm.

Those at the lower end of this spectrum are considered shorter focal lengths. These force you to get closer to your subject and don’t offer much bokeh, but are cheaper to buy, making them more accessible to beginners.

A macro lens with a longer focal length, such as a 150mm, will allow you to put some distance between you and your subject and provide significantly better depth of field. However, these lenses are heavier and tend to be much more expensive.

There are also many lenses that offer a good compromise between the two.