Why You Should Invest in a $10 Clip-On Lens Over a $500 GoPro

Selfie at Jardin Majorelle Marrakech

The Barcelona post is coming soon, I promise! But after my sister asked today and because of how much I’ve been wanting to rave about this, I’m finally dedicating a post to convincing you to make the investment in a $10 lens sold on Amazon instead of a GoPro ($130 to $500).

Especially for you travelers, adventurers, or just everyday amateur photographers, the Mpow supreme fisheye clip-on lens has been the best travel/iPhone/camera accessory I’ve ever purchased.

1 — The GoPro is a supreme fisheye lens.
Compare these photos and see if you can tell which were taken with a GoPro and which were with an iPhone with the lens (can be used for other phones).

This is huge: There is no difference. (First two are GoPro). I’ve been holding out on using my GoPro, simply because this lens helps takes photos that distort a photo in the same way a GoPro does. But in an attempt to prove this observation with numbers: According to Google+, which automatically uploads new photos on my camera roll when I open the app, each photo’s details are given, including the type of camera used and focal length. GoPro’s cheapest Hero model has a 5mm focal length, compared to the iPhone 6’s 4.15mm. This lens produces a 0.33 magnification, which means your iPhone with these lens technically takes photos that are more distorted at about 5.15mm but also gets more of the surroundings.

2 — GoPro is bulky compared to a clip-on lens.
Not only is it removable, but as recently realized, the lens can be switched to the front-facing camera for—get this—selfie stick-less selfies!! WHHHAAT. In all seriousness, if you’re looking for an affordable lightweight, portable option for equal quality, this is it: You carry a 0.3-ounce lens compared to GoPro’s nearly one-pound camera.

3 — GoPro has too many steps.
Swipe up vs. turn on, click through options, then take photo or video. One of the best things about taking photos with an iPhone is that all you need is to swipe up to access the camera, whereas the GoPro’s automatic setting is video (you probably can adjust this, but I’m still a GoPro newbie), so taking a photo requires an extra step of clicking one of the two buttons to switch to photo mode. When you’re experiencing the chaos that is Marrakech’s Place Jemaa el-Fna, the last thing you want is to spend time fumbling through GoPro Hero settings to take a photo you can’t see anyway until transferring to a computer. Meanwhile, several motorcyclists come whizzing past you, only adding to the danger.

I know I’m biased—I haven’t had nearly enough time with the GoPro, but for me, I just can’t see the GoPro overshadowing all the benefits of the lens. The learning curve of a GoPro is higher than this lens that you just attach to your existing smartphone. I took so many accidental photos and videos when trying to figure out how to work the GoPro. Unless I’m going surfing or doing what the GoPro is best for—extreme adventures and sports—I’ll stick with the swiping for a quick pic.

4 — GoPro takes longer to share.
Remember what you (or at least I) really take photos for: Sharing. Photos on an iPhone can be instantly edited using your favorite photo editing apps (VSCO, Instasize, Instagram) and then shared on any number of your social networks or simply immediately backed up to the cloud. On a GoPro? It’s like the 1990s digital cameras all over again but worse because you have to use an adaptor for that mini SD card. Plus, editing on a computer is just not the same in terms of convenience and, well, filters. I find myself iMessaging photos from GoPro that were transferred to my computer so that I can save them on my phone to edit to then reupload. It’s a messy cycle.

Now, although I fully endorse getting Mpow’s fisheye lens (the three-in-one deal that’s about $5 more has been useless, as I’ve been exclusively using fisheye and it’s too complicated to switch among fisheye, wide angle, and I don’t even know the third lens), it’s not perfect. Sometimes, the black ring does show up in photos, and figuring out how to attach the clip-on to the lens itself upon unboxing took way too long simply because I was afraid of breaking the plastic clip-on.

Anyway, take this as you would with any other online review. Consider your own needs and how they match the pros and cons. Sure, GoPro has worked and continues to work well with many people, but for an amateur #ARTventurer like me, a supreme fisheye lens that takes great selfies is just fine for me.

And no, no one paid me to write this.