Favorite Photo, September 15

Chinese telephoto lens on an iPhone SE. September 15, 2017.

I am afraid my favorite photo for September 15 is not very exciting, but the story is interesting. I was doing a series of articles about cheaply made, very poor quality Chinese smart phone lenses that were flooding into the United States and being sold for outrageous prices.

In a nutshell, these lenses were purchased in bulk in China for $2 or $3 each and sold in the United States for over $200. (You could buy the same lenses on Amazon for $9 – $15.) Outrageous claims were made for the image quality, claiming these lenses were better than Zeiss, Leica, Canon, and Nikon lenses. According to the ads, one of these lenses on your smart phone would replace a $2000 – $4000 DSLR/telephoto lens combo.

I tracked down some of the photos used in the ads. The images were created with professional lenses on DSLR cameras. They were stolen from professional photographer’s web sites without their knowledge (I know this because I wrote to the photographers.) They invented a fake German lens designer using the image of a professional model in Australia. The photo of the model was used without the photographer’s knowledge.

Top: 12X Chinese telephoto camera phone lens on an iPhone. Bottom: Canon 7D Mk II, Canon 100-400mm Mk II lens with Canon 1.4X Mk III teleconverter.

I bought a couple of these lenses on Amazon for $12 each and tested them against a DLSR and telephoto lens (photo above) and against each other (photo below). The image quality of both lenses is truly lousy. (FYI, the camera was level. It was the Rent-A-John that was leaning.)

8-18X telephoto lens vs 12X telephoto lens. Click to see at 100% actual pixels.

Despite the claims in the ads, these lenses just don’t compare to a quality telephoto lens on a DSLR.

Thousands of these lenses were sold for over $200 to unwitting customers. I saw ads for these overpriced lenses almost every day on Facebook. The exact same lenses were available on Amazon for $15 or less and on eBay for $3 – $4.

Thanks to articles by me and other photographers about this huge rip off, the prices on these lenses went from over $200 to under $100, and then to $59 and then to $29. Then the ads pretty much disappeared altogether.

Series Link

Series: Favorite Photos by Date

Chinese Rip Off Links

The Chinese Lens Rip Off Series – Overpriced Camera Phone Lenses

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