Macro-lens for your cellphone camera

Here is a fun evening project: making a macro-lens for your cellphone camera. I stumbled upon this post at, where the author takes the lens from an old DVD drive and fixes it over his cellphone’s camera to get very interesting, very macro pictures. I remembered that I had a┬ádisassembled┬álaptop drive from an abandoned laser salvage project (I decided that if I must loose my vision playing with lasers, I might as well save up and lose it to a 40Watt CO2 laser). The lens was removed by crushing one side of the housing that held it. I then used a ring of kneaded eraser to affix the lens to the cellphone.

A picture of the removed lens next to the DVD drive's laser/lens assembly

The lens (top right), surrounded by kneaded eraser

It was difficult focusing on a subject at this “zoom” level. Even the slight movement of pressing the “take picture” button was enough to ruin most of the shots. Lighting was also a problem. Since there was typically only a very small gap of space between the subject and the cellphone, the light had trouble reaching the region of interest. With a little patience, however, I was able to take the following:

The letter "C" on my laptop's LCD panel. Note the subpixels.

Lincoln's Eye on a US penny.

The letters L I B of "LIBERTY" from a US Penny

Part of the text "LIBERTY"

Mintmark on an old penny (note the grime).

Mintmark from a newer penny.

The Lincoln statue in the Lincoln memorial on the back of a US penny. It came out fuzzy, but I had to try.

Surface mount resistors. I am not sure what the standard sizes are, but these are roughly 0.5mm wide and 1.5mm long.

The subjects of the above pictures. Note that the mintmark is below the date, in the bottom right of the penny. Also, the resistor picture is from that cluster of resistors in the top middle of the chip (part of the DVD drive).

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