External lenses and filters for smartphones come, usually, with plastic clip-on adapters that are prone to break with use. System-S has an adapter that lasts longer and is ideal… if it fits your smartphone.
Clip-on lenses for smartphones are an essential part of any kit for those who want to go beyond the cameras/lenses available on smartphones. When you buy one of those lenses, you get a clip-on adapter, some of them only compatible with the specific lens. If you buy a series of lenses, you’ll usually get a clip-on adapter for the lens, a piece made of plastic that is prone to break with use. On eBay you can find sellers of replacement clip-on adapters which may be a solution, but your best bet is an adapter that will not break.
iPhone users have more options in terms of – reliable – adapters to use external lenses with their phones, but Android users, because there are so many smartphone brands and a variety of designs, find it difficult to get a solution beyond the plastic, breakable, clip-on adapters offered with many lenses. To make things worse, some adapters only work with the lenses they were designed for, meaning you need to carry with you an assortment of adapters.
If you also use filters, then you also must find a way to attach them to the smartphone’s camera, and the problem is the same: different adapters from assorted brands, mostly in plastic. Because I am using lenses from Apexel, which has a proprietary clip-on adapter, I usually carry their adapter, and then I’ve another clip-on adapter, from Neweer, which came with a Variable ND 2-400. While Apexel’s adapter has a small diameter, the Neweer adapter has a 37mm diameter thread, which is usual for smartphones.
Smartphone adapters for telescopes
Fortunately, filters, close-up lenses, polarizers and NDs are available in 37mm – although not from all brands -, so it’s less problematic to buy those when you want to expand your smartphone’s kit. Now, there are better adapters for using lenses with smartphones, but they are, sometimes, hard to find, and not available on all the markets, unless you opt to import them, a solution that makes price higher due to customs. Moment and ShiftCam universal adapters are an example: it’s not easy to buy them in Europe.
Meade Instruments has a smartphone adapter for telescopes, priced at $34.81, which allows you to take pictures through the telescope. The company says it’s ideal for taking images of the Moon, planets, and other bright objects like star clusters, and adds that its telescope cell phone holder is compatible with many cell phone types and sizes. Its design includes several adjustments that allow for correct positioning of the phone’s camera into the optical path of the telescope.
Meade is not alone, as Celestron also offers an adapter, and brands like Gosky or Solomark offer adapters for either telescope or spotting scopes. These accessories look interesting but as I need the adapter for something else, I searched after for a similar but simpler solution, just to use lenses and filters with a smartphone. I came across the “System-S Silver Tripod Camera Mount Adapter for Smartphone & 37 mm wide angle & Single-Lens Reflex SLR objectiv lenses” a long title for an adapter made of metal with an adjustable bracket that will fit a variety of smartphones.
A sturdy solution… for some smartphones
The System-S adapter has a 37mm thread that accepts my ND filters and any other 37mm filter or lens, but it also has a 17mm inner thread that accepts my Apexel lenses, which means I only need to carry it with me to use all the lenses and filters with a smartphone. The all-metal bracket is sturdy and well made and will, no doubt, last longer than any plastic clip-on adapter. The bracket also has a standard tripod thread, which is a welcome addition.
Although I acquired it to be used with a Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, I’ve discovered that, the bracket’s arm does not extend long enough to use with that model, so I am using it with smaller smartphones. I’ve tried it with different models from Huawei and Xiaomi and it works, but you’ll need to make sure it fits your smartphone before buying it. The System-S Silver Tripod Camera Mount Adapter for Smartphone costs some $20, but as you’ll have to buy it from Germany, expect to pay more, due to shipping costs and customs taxes. Still, if you intend to use external lenses and filters with your smartphone, and it is compatible, this is a solution that will last a long time.