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Review – 12x Telephoto Lens for the Nokia Lumia 920

If there is one thing Lumia 920 owners are happy about, it’s their camera. So it’s finally nice to see some aftermarket-accessories build off of what Nokia has started (though personally, we’d like to see Nokia get involved in this area too).

We’ve covered some magnetic lens adapters in the past, and while “cheap” they did offer users a new creative ability with their phones. After all, if you’re a good photographer, you can make “art” out of anything and those lenses enabled some neat options.

Now we have a 12x telephoto lens that comes out of Guangdong, China and it goes for just slightly less than $20 (plus shipping). We ordered ours through Amazon.com and it took about 10 days or so for the product to arrive.

So how is it? It’s surprisingly well built. It’s a solid, elegant machined aluminum body with a sturdy tripod. Truth be told, we’re a bit shocked about how nicely it all works together—nothing feels “cheap” about it, including the box that it came in (it’s one of those nice ones with a magnetic flap).

Of course the big issue is, quality of the photos. The lens is a fixed 12x telephoto, meaning you have to "frame the photo with your feet", so to speak. The lens can be manually focused and it too excels beyond our expectations. Anyone who knows a quality lens knows it should have a smooth, slow and steady rotation and this lens actually has that, making it feel like you’re focusing an old-school prime lens for a DSLR.

Photos themselves are “ok”. Let’s be clear: this is not Nikkor, Canon or Carl Zeiss making the glass and there’s a reason why some of us pay $1K+ for our lenses in the first place. Purple fringing, darkened corners and a narrow focal area are all side effects of a $20 lens.

Having said that, it’s still pretty cool.

Hey, for $20, we can think of worse things to spend our money on. Will we use it often? Who knows. But the 920’s camera is a work of art and it’s fun to play around with such add-ons, even if they are niche or novelty.

You can order your 12x Zoom Lens through Amazon.com right here. Make sure you watch our video walk through for our impressions.

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

98 Comments
  • "Let’s be clear: this is not Nikkor"
    Homer Simpson: "Pfft.  I know a genuine Panaphonics when I see it.  And look, there's Magnetbox and Sorny."
     
  • I miss the old Simpsons episodes
  • That show used to be so funny.
  • Still is very much so
  • Naw. It's gone downhill big time.
  • It just isn't the same as it was.
  • Not a mispelling. Nikkor is a gamma of Nikon's lenses.
  • I am no photographer but I think this is awesome, maybe I will become a bit if a hobbyist....
  • A lens makes you a good photographer as much as a nice pot makes one a chef. Learn the rules of photography, especially composition and light. Have fun!
  • Well a nice pot sure makes me want to cook something and eat it...
  • Yes have fine!
  • Obviously having a great keyboard does not make one a skilled typist!
  • Oops, he went back and edited his mistakes.
  • Sheesh, get a couple lives. I was encouraging him to get into photography and you blast me for being off a letter on my phone. Couple of real stand up guys...
  • Sorry, I thought you were being a know it all toward someone who was already considering getting into photography. My apologies if your comment was sincere. It's hard to figure out the right tone when something is written. Have a great day.
  • This is the future. This is awesome. 
  • Ahhh no :P
  • nope, this is future :p
     pic.twitter.com/VjRNPYjy
  • lol I've seen that exact 808 in person. That is the future ;)
  • The future isn't what it used to be! 
     
  • What did you use to take the pictures of the camera and lens?
  • Nikon D700 + Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro.
  • That explains why you can't spell Canon ;-)
  • He's got a Nikon. Why would he bother?
  • At least as all have windows phones.
  • Not realy something id go for tbh as much as i love Nokia and there products
  • Oh my goddddddd :)
  • For me that is way more than enough
  • It's cool it comes with a tripod but does it extend in length so you can adjust the height?
  • If it is the one I have, then yes, it gets about 3-4" taller.
  • Unfortunately not...
  • Just purchased! Good for resell of my 920 when its time to upgrade.
  • Is the tripod removable from the case so I can still use the lens?
  • Yes, mentioned in the video.
  • Cool, I can read at work, not watch.
  • it you overtighten the lens when screwing  it in it could mark the back cover of the phone.  thats what happened to me
  • That's why you screw it in without the phone in the cover.
  • Thank you for the warning, tomp.  I will keep that in mind once I get mine.
  • I'm taking this ONLY works for a Lumia 920 or other Lumia phones (if compatible)? I'm thinking more future related uses, say the 925??? Cool little add on... If it works on something like the upcoming 925, I'll buy one.
  • I was just thinking the same thing. I'll be getting the L925 if this fits on it I'll pick this up as well.
  • Don't forget about the other "lower" ranges too. At least the 820 series.
  • How do you manually focus to take pictures without the phone trying to autofocus?
  • That's what I was wondering too. I guess you could half press the shutter on the phone to lock the focus and then adjust the focus of the lens itself.
  • I like the concept, but the color fringing in the second picture definitely looks a bit too much for use. I might pick it up just to see how it holds up to lens accessories made for the iPhone 5. Also its Canon, not "Cannon".
  • any idea if this works on the 928? Dying to try out the camera (been at work all day), and this would be a great addition
  • I wish there was an option to use the tripod without the telephoto as well. I frequently go on Meetup hikes and I'm looking for a tripod for the group shots. Having the telephoto would be a nice option at times but I certainly don't want to be carrying 2 tripods.
  • This (http://joby.com/smartphones/griptight-gorillapod-stand) is what I use and I am extremely happy with it! Available on Amzaon.
    Edit: I realize that this won't work with the 12x lens, but nevertheless, thought I'd recommend just in case if you were looking for a "tripod + phone mount".
  • I just realized that you CAN actually use the tripod (that comes with this lens) with your phone. See pictures # 12 and 13 on this page: http://www.winphoneviet.com/forum/index.php?threads/35601/. This is the tripod that comes with this lens. I believe it has a standard 1/4" thread on top. You can use a compatible smartphone mount that will hook up with this tripod. For example, the Joby Griptight Mount http://www.amazon.com/Joby-JM1-01WW-GripTight-Mount-Black/dp/B009GHYLKS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368752807&sr=8-1&keywords=joby+smartphone+mount%3C%2Fa%3E%3Cbr&tag=wpcentralb-20 />
    Should work perfectly fine.
  • Thanks for the info!
  • The distortion on the shot of the shed is hilarious - look at the vertical lines bowing. Still, for that price you just can't complain.
  • True but if you really want to take good pictures just get a cheap point and shoot with optical zoom.
  • The question on my mind is: CAN you take a photo and under right circumstances get a better shoot then without the lens?
  • I don't have this, but: in terms of image quality - no. 
  • You know, just because you can zoom in 12x, doesn't mean you have to do that. That is unless the lens only allows you to take 12x zoom photos? If not, show some shots without zooming all the way. Halfway maybe?
  • If you watch the video it explains that 12x is the only option.
  • Its a fixed zoom
  • Sorry for the pedantry, but there's no such thing as a "fixed zoom."
  • Didn't understand it was broken in the first place
  • For the price, this doesn't look too bad. Purple feigning and distortion is present, but again, for the price it looks pretty good. Though for probably about twice the price, you could get a used Pentax, a lens adapter, and a cheap Lumia case and fashion something with way more quality and the ability to zoom. Think I'll make that a project for myself. :)
  • Let me know how that goes. Maybe start a thread in the forums?
  • Will do! Trolling Craigslist for some cheap lenses as we speak!
  • I miss my old K1000....sigh
  • Yes, I was waiting on someone to do a review on this and show some actual results.
  • I got mine today, it's awesome!
  • looks good but 18.99 more 12 for shipping.. hmm.. 
  • Very nice! The fringing on the resultant photo actually give quite a nice effect if you're looking for a vignetted look. If not then it kind of limits you, but for $20 I'd buy it for that effect alone.
  • Would this work on my 8X?
    (til I get the 928..)
  • Wont ship to Canada. Will need to check .ca site from my computer
  • I don't think this is just purple fringing but mostly Chromatic aberrations (CA). In other words you can see a slight color shift. That's little bit tougher to correct but kind of expected on this kind of added on lens solution.
  • Is the tripod adjustable up-down?
  • No
  • Bummer :-/
  • I got mine couple days ago.  Unfortunately, I was not able to attach the case to the lens securely due the fact the attaching screw hole has only 2-3 threads.  It is too weak to hold the case and L920 and the case keeps falling off.  The lens, case and packaging are well made.  But the attaching mechanism design needs to be enhanced.  It should have at least 7-8 threads screw hole.  I'm concerned that my L920 will drop off accidentanlly, so I have no confidence to use it.  It's shame that I have to return it.  I won't recommend this device to anybody until the attaching mechanism is improved.
  • Bought lol
  • tank got his cannon :D
  • haha i am the first to use this haha
  • I ordered mine about two weeks ago. Unfortunately it's not offered in Germany directly and Amazon.com doesn't ship it here. One of my fellow tweeps found it on dx.com for me though. It still hasn't arrived, but according to the tracking service it should do so in a couple of days. Really looking forward to it. :)
  • Thanks! This is what I am currently looking for ^^ - I am contact with the seller via email. Maybe they are offering another possibility to order. One seller is having a website orbmart.com but the Lumia 920 is not mentioned there.
     
  • I was excited until I saw it was £31 on Amazon UK (nearly $50) and it can't be shipped here from Amazon US either :(
  • Ebay. I just bought one for a shade under £18 with free delivery
  • Thank you very much, for some reason I didn't think of eBay :) ordering one now, thanks again
  • Ok, now I know what I would do with a 3d printer and all those old Canon lenses lying around...
  • I ordered the Lens in Europe for ~ €30 incl shipping as I'm curious to see what results Refocus will produce with a super-zoom attached. The fact that it gives you a narrower depth of field should be beneficial to the effect. So far it hasn't shipped though :( Anyone tried it out?
  • haha i tried this about 2-3 months ago, it is selling around $22 on ebay from China/HK free shipping.
  • does this exist with "non-fixed" zoom?
  • Is that a Porsche in the driveway? Daaaaaaanng. O.O
  • Funny
  • I can't believe the "superintendant of highways" gets to print his name on the back of all the barricades in that area.  Government absurdity.
  • Wow I work in the town of Huntington.
  • Kinda makes the phone look like a Dalek. I want one! :D
  • Did you take the 5 seconds to actually read the review on the Amazon link that you posted? The guy on Amazon said it's a waste of money and posted his own video review with the photos as blurry. 
  • Is it compatible with lumia 900?
    If it is im getting it
  • Lumia 920 is the worst phone from 1. Compromised GPS. 2. Poor hanging Navigation. 3. No search in favorites- POIS. 4. Cannot attach files to email 5. Very Low volume. 6. No Player, Cannot rewind/FF when a video or audio is running. 7. Cam does not have optical zoom, pinch zoom is bad. 8. You can't access the sys folder. 9. Can't open password Protected file. 10. Translate cam has very limited translations possible. 11. NO player. 12. Very less apps. 13. NO SIP. 14. Mobile VOIP not working.
  • Then don't buy one, simple really.
  • will it work with lumia 720???????
  • I'd rather go for a real DSLR than use this.
  • Is there a tripod for the Lumia Icon / 930 out there?
  • I don't mean to be a stickler, but why is it that the phone in the photos using this Auxillary lens is a Nokia Lumia 1020. That is not a 920! I have both phones. That phone in the images is without any shadow of a doubt a Nokia Lumia 1020. This is very poor consistency.  How can you take a review seriously if you don't even use the proper gear with it?  Come on!