Guest post by Nate Ivy
Here's a simple way to get more out of your cell phone camera by reusing components from a "disposable" camera to create macro, wide-angle & fisheye lenses.
Disposable cameras are frequently reprocessed after they are turned in to a photo developer, and for good reason- they contain a wide variety of interesting and useful components including lenses, batteries, capacitors, LED's and more. A strong argument can be made for NOT hacking a used disposable camera because it is likely to be remanufacuted, However, if you are interested in expanding the range of your cell phone camera, the lenses from a disposable camera are a cheap way to go.
For safety's sake, locate a disposable camera without a flash. Cameras with flashes contain capacitors, electronic components capable of storing a large electrical charge. Even after the battery is removed, the capacitor in a disposable flash camera can hold enough electricity to hurt or kill you!. After taking all the pictures on the disposable camera, wind the film until the ratchet spins free- this ensures that you don't ruin the film when opening the camera.
1) Use a pair of needle nose pliers to remove the plastic ring holding the camera's lens in place. The ring breaks away easily, allowing extraction of the lens.
2) Hold the lens over your cell phone camera lens and start taking pictures. The lens shape is plano-convex. Place the flat part of the disposable lens against your camera. When taking photos with the extra lens in place, you'll have to hold your camera very close to the subject. You'll also have to experiment with different distances from the subject to find the right focus. I had good luck at about 1-3 inches away. Once you've found a good focus length, you might want to slightly adjust the placement of the disposable lens to get the best image.
3) You can further enhance the magnification by using your camera's zoom feature if available. Click on the images below to see examples.
4) Disposable cameras also include a "view finder"- the part of the camera you look through to frame your photo. The view finder is a set of two lenses, one concave, and one convex that focus an image to your eye. The view finder provides a "wide angle" view representative of the photos the disposable camera takes. Remove the view finder to create wide angle and fish-eye lens photos with your cell phone camera.
5) Use the view finder assembly in its factory configuration to take wide angle pictures. Simply hold the assembly up to your cell phone camera lens.
6) To create a fish-eye lens, reverse the larger concave lens at the front of the view finder.
7) Hold the modified view finder in front of your cell phone camera lens to take fish-eye photos.
8) Experiment with different lens and camera settings to get a new perspective on the world. (Note, the smaller, convex lens at the front of the view finder also works well as a macro lens.) Here are some more pictures taken from my cell phone using the lenses from the disposable camera.