Don’t get ripped off! Part 8. How much does this lens really cost? $224.50? $2.99?

The ads for these smart phone telephoto lenses keep popping up on Facebook and elsewhere online. How much do they really cost and why do the prices vary so much?

It all starts in China where these lenses are made.

Wholesalers sell them in various quantities and prices to whoever wants to buy them. You can find a lot of wholesale distributors at Global Sources.  This particular Chinese wholesaler sells these lenses for $2.95 each provided you buy at least 1,000 of them, a total order of $2,950.

Some people want to buy and resell these lenses but they don’t want to buy in such big quantities. So they go to secondary wholesalers. You can find secondary wholesalers at DHgate. This particular secondary wholesaler will sell you 20 of these lenses at $5.80 each, a total order of $116.00.

At this point companies (which could be as small as one person) sell these to the public. They make up a fancy name for the lens (or no name at all) and sell it to the public for whatever price they want. Here are just a few random prices on Google.

Few people would expert to get a super high quality lens if they are paying under $10. Most people would guess it is a cheap, plastic lens that might be fun to play with.

The problem comes in when someone wants to sell these lenses for $56, $59.95, or $224.50. Now they have to convince the public that these lenses are really something special. In other words, they mislead people. So you see a picture of the moon that is impossible for one of these cheap Chinese lenses to take. Of course these people are clever. They don’t actually say the moon on the smart phone screen was taken with the lens pictured on the phone, but they want you to think that.

They grab a photo of a model off the internet and tell you he is a German engineer. He isn’t of course. The whole German engineer thing is fake. I know this because I tracked down the photographer that took the photo. You can read the whole strange story here.

They also grab photos off the internet that were created with professional photography equipment and use them in their ads/articles that promote these cheap Chinese lenses. They don’t actually say the photos were taken with the smart phone lenses they are selling. They just do their best to give you that impression. They steal these photos from professional photographers without their knowledge and permission. I know this because I talked to the photographers who had their photos stolen and used in these bogus ads. I give several examples in this article as well as some of the other articles in this series.

Lens comparison chart.

And of course they show you a chart proving their lenses are better than professional lenses from the major manufacturers.

No experienced photographer would believe this nonsense.

But people who don’t understand photography have no idea. So all of a sudden a cheap Chinese lens that started out costing $2.99 is now selling on the internet for $224.50.

12X telephoto camera phone lens vs DSLR and zoom lens.
Bottom: Canon 7D Mk II, Canon 100-400mm Mk
II, Canon 1.4X Mk III. File: 170915-7D2-8408.

And the worst news is that these lenses are poor in quality. You can read all about it here.

As for the price of $224.50 at the top of this page. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve seen prices as high as $116, but never this high. I thought maybe if I clicked on the link they would take 75% off.

So I clicked on the ADD TO CART button and got this page (above). Still $224.50.

So I clicked the CHECK OUT button and got this page. Still $224.50. This was where I stopped. No way was I going to give them my personal information.

And here is the real kicker. I clicked on a different Facebook ad and ended up at this page where the price is only, hold your breath, $29.00. Same site. Same lens. Seriously different prices. The price you get depends entirely on which teaser ad you click that sends you to the HD Zoom Pro site. Strange.

Despite all the flaws in this telephoto lens, if you really want to buy one out of curiosity, go to eBay where you can buy it for as little as $2.99.

Or go to Amazon. You can buy this telephoto lens as a set with three other lenses (you also get a fisheye, wide angle, and macro lenses). Go here. Prices fluctuate. A few days ago this same set was $14.98. Don’t forget, I warned you the quality is poor.

You can find much better smart phone lenses at the links below.

Series Links

The “Don’t Get Ripped Off” Series – Overpriced Camera Phone Lenses

Don’t get ripped off!

Same Guy, Several Different Names, Several Different Ads, Several Different Products

Don’t get ripped off! Part Two

Don’t get ripped off! Part Three

Don’t get ripped off! Part Four

Don’t get ripped off! Part Five. The fascinating story of cheap, Chinese camera phone lenses.

Don’t get ripped off. Part Six. Video: “Does It Suck?”

Don’t get ripped off. Part Seven. Comparison test: telephoto phone lens vs DLSR and zoom lens.

How to Choose the Best iPhone Lenses

More Links

The best iPhone lens kit

The best lenses for iPhone photography

Apexel Set of Four Camera Phone Lenses – This is the set of lenses I bought at Amazon  to test these cheap, poor quality lenses.