Lenses for FilmLab on 35mm films


What is your experience with different add-on lenses for capturing the 1" x 1.5" frame of 35mm film?

What do we know about different iPhone models for this specific use?


The iPhone, at least the ones I can test, cover an area larger than the 35mm negative at their minimum focusing distance. So, if used for FilmLab on 35mm films, you’ll lose some of the native resolution of your iPhone camera.

I had thought the iPhone 7 Plus with a 2x lens (56mm equiv) would be a real advantage, covering a smaller subject area than the 1x lens (28mm equiv). You touch the “2x” button and you zoom in 2x on your subject. That’s true and does a great job at distance, but there’s a wrinkle at shorter distances.

You hit the 2x button, and the iPhone Camera app automatically selects the lens that will produce the best image. The 56mm will only focus to about 1 foot, so for closeups like a 1" x 1.5" subject, the Camera app uses the 28mm lens and delivers a digital zoom. It still delivers a 12MPx file, but I believe I can see the artifacting of the digital zoom process.

That said, hit the 2x button and you get a good clean image of an area 1 3/4" long. Pretty good for our uses. Rough resolution of a converted image? Calculating 12MPx x 0.8^2 x 0.5^2 = about 2MPx. Plenty for web, probably enough for a 4x6" print.

An app with access to the iPhone 7 Plus camera can select which lens to use, so FilmLab could control the lens. But, given the 1’ close focus limitation, FilmLab won’t want to use the 56mm lens.

Here’s my test shot iPhone 7 Plus, 2x selected, Apple Camera app, at roughly the minimum close focus distance.


iPhone 6 has a pretty good camera.

Using the Apple Camera app, I can get a sharp capture of an area just over 2.5" long. Rough resolution of a converted image? Calculating 7MPx x 0.6^2 = 2.5MPx, about the same as above. But something is out of kilter; the iPhone 7 Plus image of the ruler looks better to me than the iPhone 6. Wild guess: the iPhone 6 does some “digital zoom” to get the closeup image.

Here’s the iPhone 6 test shot, Apple Camera app, at roughly the minimum close focus distance.


Let’s try a macro lens. From reviews, the high quality add-on lenses for iPhones are by the Moment brand, and their macro is labeled “10x.”

It’s a great lens, but the problem is it focuses only in a very narrow range. It comes with a translucent “hood” and seems optimized for the lens hood to be pressed against the subject. Moving back very much at all leaves us out of focus.

At that focus distance, with the hood pressed against the subject, the lens covers an area 1 1/4" long, a bit of a crop of your 35mm negative.

But, the image quality is amazing. Seriously, I’ve tested this lens against the fabulous APO Rodagon D 1:1 copy lens on a 24MPx full frame DSLR for camera-scans of 35mm film. The Moment-iPhone7Plus combo is close to the Rodagon-DSLR combo. I think that’s an amazing result. Stamp and coin collectors will want this lens.

For capturing a full 35mm negative, you’ll have to use two shots, merge them into one larger image, then covert.

With this lens, you get the full 12MPx of the iPhone 7 camera. Rough resolution of a converted image? Calculating 12MPx period. That’s enough for a 12x18" enlargement if you have a good negative.

Here’s the same test image, iPhone 7 Plus, Moment Macro lens, translucent hood pressed against the subject.

What About Resolution

Uploaded images are reduced considerably in the display above. Click on any of the ruler images to see the full resolution file for any of my test shots.


My conclusion: A good macro lens will be valuable in making higher quality negative conversions with FilmLab.

The 10x Moment lens looks terrific, except that it won’t cover the full 35mm negative area. What’s a good 7x macro lens (assuming the 10x-7x nomenclature is consistent)?


More with the Moment Macro lens. Focus is really critical; there’s auto-focus with the phone, but the range is really limited. The only way to get really sharp focus seems to be holding the rim of the translucent hood against the subject (i.e. the negative strip).

In that position, the lens covers an area 1" high and 1.25" wide. So, you get the whole negative vertically, cutting a bit from both sides.

With the superb image quality of this lens, this looks like a winner for 35mm film.


Here’s the Moment Macro lens, using their case, on iPhone 7 Plus


And, here it is capturing a 35mm negative:

FilmLab beta release 0.2 iOS

Very interesting! Have you tried to convert the negative to a positive and if so how was the result?

The new iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X can prove to be even better as the resolution of the tele lens now matches the normal lens, being 2x 12 MP lenses on both the 8 Plus and X.


@pmoz Have I converted a negative image?

Yes, the macro lens gives a higher res capture, and film lab gives a higher res result.

I think there’s real potential here: With the Moment Macro Lens I can get a phone-scan of 35mm material that’s close to a DSLR capture with a good macro lens. FilmLab should be able to use that.

FWIW, my iPhone 7 Plus has two 12 MPx cameras. Great camera phone.


Continuing to look at macro lenses for FilmLab.

The 10x Moment Macro lens is fabulous in quality, but image covers 1.25x1", cutting off part of the 35mm frame.

Trying the Ollocliip 7x from their current “Macro Pro Lens Set.”

This lens covers the full 35mm frame with just a little extra margin. But, the distortion is… well… you be the judge. Could be useful if FilmLab can recognize the frame and if you can live with or correct the distortion.

Yes the ruler is straight. The bending is the lens distortion. This distortion would drive me crazy; I don’t think this is a viable lens for filmlab conversions, except for images with one central subject, images where you can accept crazy distortion at the edges.


I am able to test the Zeiss ExoLens Pro Macro-Zoom Lens System.

The good news: The results are terrific, and the lens on my iPhone 7 Plus covers the full 35mm frame. Further, this lens is a 2x zoom, making it easier to adjust focus for different sized subjects. This will make a superb lens for converting 35mm negatives with an iPhone. (The Moment Macro is equally superb in quality, but only focuses at one distance, covers 80% of 35mm image width.)

The bad news: This item is discontinued, appears only rarely, usually at high prices. My advice: If interested in iPhone captures of 35mm negatives, snap this up if you can find one.

Notice: no distortion, sharp to the corners. Covers 1.5" width of 35mm negative. (The curved shadow is the translucent hood; won’t be a factor for back-lit negatives.)

Rough calculation: 4000Px wide x 2600 high = 10MPx “scans” of 35mm film. That will be plenty for any screen use and good enough for an 8x10 print.

Because of the zoom, this might also work well for medium format negatives.


@ColSebastianMoran thank you for the tests and reviews.
I’ve purchased the Zeiss exolens after reading your review even if it is F*****G expensive!
I’ve a couple of questions:
Is this the model you reviewed?

Was the iphone 7plus soft liner included in the box?
Thank you for the precious tests.


Yes, that’s exactly it.

Yes, the box includes the hard metal outer thing plus soft liners for six iPhone models: the 7, 7Plus, 6, 6Plus, 6S, and 6SPlus.

Watch on eBay and perhaps elsewhere. Sellers are asking sky-high, but sometimes one is offered at a reasonable price.

I think this lens on a 12MPx iPhone will make phone-scans that are very close to a DSLR with a good macro lens.

Here’s the array inside the box I have:


I’ve ordered one on ebay from UK. It is not in my mailbox yet.
I’ve read on exolens website’s FAQ that it fits iphone 7+ but I was not sure.
Thank you for the info, it really looks like the definitive lens for 35mm scanning, I can’t wait to put my hands on it.


Some more information if you are interested in the Zeiss exolens macro.
I’m still waiting my item, this post is the result of collecting informations from the web in addiction to @ColSebastianMoran great work.

It looks like some kits contain the exolens with all the (6) soft liners to allow it to be mounted on iphone 5 to 7 (see previous post picture).

But other kits (older?) may contain only four liners:

The one for iPhone 7 plus being sold as an extra:

Going deeper on the exolens webite FAQ they claim there is a small difference between iphone7 black jet and other colors, they says they are going to provide the correct soft liner if you hapoen to own a jet black iphone 7.
Impressive customer service!

So pay attention if you buy online and you own an iphone 7 plus.
No hope if you own an iphone 8 or iphone X, btw

My 2 cents.


Yes, there are older and newer kits. I have the newer with liners for the 7 Plus.

Good luck with your purchase.


Hope they will continue to make adapters available as we go to the next generation of phones.


Also beware: There is an Exolens product with no-brand glass selling for $10 to $40. Perhaps the Exolens Pro designates the Zeiss line, but hard to tell.