The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Four

We’ve been down this road before. The formula is simple. Take a cheap smart phone telephoto lens you can buy at Amazon for $15, sell it for $54.95, say it is a limited half price offer, and imply the lens will do amazing things that every well informed photographer knows the cheap lens absolutely can’t do.

Posted Jan. 8, 2017. Expanded Dec. 2, 2017.

Does this $14.98 smart phone lens look familiar?

Does this $14.98 smart phone lens look familiar?

This looks like the same exact lens but it is only $14.98. That is quite a difference in price. I am not the only person pointing out the companies that are selling seriously overpriced, questionable quality equipment. This article at PetaPixel is on the case.

Screen capture from the Outdoor Spirit site. Seriously? A photo like this? In your dreams!

In reality it is just a cheap lens being sold for three times what it is worth. And no, it won’t take pictures like this of the moon with your smart phone. Ask anyone who has done any astrophotography. And this isn’t the only bogus photo in the ad.

The companies that do this kind of thing have a nasty habit of grabbing professionally created photos off the internet and passing them off in their ads as smart phone photos.

They are clever. The ad doesn’t actually SAY the photos were taken with their telephoto lens on a smart phone, but the photos are certainly designed to give you that impression.

Screen capture from the Outdoor Spirit ad.

Screen capture from the Outdoor Spirit ad.

Take a good look at this football photo that appears in the Outdoor Spirit ad. Wonder where it came from?

U.S. Air Force Military Academy football photo.

U.S. Air Force Academy football photo.

It came from the U.S Air Force Academy. The game was played at Falcon Stadium, October 26, 2013. The stadium in the ad is not Falcon stadium. The whole photo in the ad was faked to look like a smart phone photo. But you already knew that. You can see and download the original photo here. I called the photography department at the U.S. Air Force Academy and guess what? Sam Lee did not take this photo with an iPhone and a cheap add-on telephoto lens. He used a quality DLSR and lens. But you already knew that too.

The companies that manufacture these cheap add-on lenses like this will sell a bunch of them to you (or anybody else) in large wholesale batches for a few dollars each. For a little extra they well even put your company name on it. Then you can go on Amazon and re-sell them for $14.98 each, or on your own site for $54.95. See the Septemb er 12, 2017 update below.

If you really want to play with a lens like this, get it at Amazon. I have seen it in some configurations for as little as $12. For about $20 you can get the telephoto lens in a package deal with wide angle, macro, and fish-eye lenses of equally questionable quality.

Caveat emptor!

Update: September 12, 2017

8x telephoto camera phone lens from China. Click for a larger version.

So where does these cheap telephoto phone lenses come from? China. You can buy a thousand of them for $2.95 each plus shipping.

UPDATE: January 19, 2017

HD360x ad on FaceBook.

HD360x ad on FaceBook.

Does this FaceBook ad look familiar? Of course it does. Same photo as yesterday’s ad but with a different name. Note the totally ridiculous claim that this lens will make a professional $2000 DSLR unnecessary. And in this ad the lens is 75% off instead of the 50% off in yesterday’s ad. But as you shall see, you will actually end up paying more. So where does the link in the ad take us?

HD360x Web Site

Screen capture: HD360x Web Site

To this site. Hmmm. I can hear the thinking behind this ad. “Let’s pretend this lens is worth $184 and give a 75% discount and sell it for $56. We will make even more money than the web site that calls it a $109.90 lens and sells it at a 50% discount for $54.95. No one will figure it out.” Does it work? If this web site can be believed, in one month 16,876 people paid $56 for a cheap lens you can buy at Amazon for $15 or less.


Series Overview

The Chinese Lens Rip Off Series – Overpriced Camera Phone Lenses

Series Links

The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part One

Same Guy, Several Different Names, Several Different Ads, Several Different Products – The fake German engineer used in the Chinese lens rip off ads  

The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Two

The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Three

The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Four

The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Five. The fascinating story of cheap, Chinese camera phone lenses.

The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Six. Video: “Does It Suck?”

The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Seven. Comparison test: telephoto phone lens vs DLSR and zoom lens

The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Eight. How much does this lens really cost? $224.50? $2.99?

The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Nine. Comparison Test Two: 8-18X Telephoto Phone Lens vs 12X Telephoto Phone Lens

How to Choose the Best iPhone Lenses

More Links

The best iPhone lens kit

The best lenses for iPhone photography

Don’t Fall for B.S. Camera Gear Ads – at PetaPixel

Ad Links

8x telephoto zoom lens for $54.95 at Outdoor Spirit – as of Jan. 18, 2017

8x telephoto zoom lens for $56 at –  as of Jan. 19, 2017.

8x telephoto zoom lens for $14.98 at Amazon – as of Jan. 18, 2016

8x telephoto lens plus three more lenses for $19.99 at Amazon  – as of Jan. 19, 2017

Apexel Set of Four Camera Phone Lenses – One of the sets of lenses I bought at Amazon to test cheap, poor quality Chinese lenses.