My Focus Stacking Setup for Closeup Photography from 2016 | Focus Stacking Mobile Photography

In this post I want to talk about my setup for closeup focus stacking photography,
which is completely different than the usual setup and equipment that I use
for all the other genres of photography that I do.

I love macro & focus stacking photography and I love building affordable setups.
One of the reasons why I choose not to invest too much in my macro & focus stacking photography
equipment is that I don’t earn money doing that type of photography.

Also I like challenges πŸ™‚ and working with what I have is yes, definitely a bit challenging.
When I started doing focus stacking photography I was using a smartphone πŸ™‚

Here is the setup I had –

Estee White Photography

My Closeup Focus Stacking Setup in 2016

At first I started experimenting taking closeups with my Samsung Galaxy S5
and I just got one of those phone lenses that are a set of 3 (‘macro’, wide angle & fish eye).
That wasn’t ideal of course but it did give me a good sense of what
to expect and for learning purposes it worked ok.

As soon as I had the chance – I got a better phone. I did a research,
looked at what others are using, asked around and I chose to get the Huawei P9.
I saw some great reviews of that phone and it was available at my
local phone operator so I got it on a nice payment plan.

One great feature is that I could snap the photos
and control the focus using the earbuds πŸ™‚
This is great for focus stacking because it eliminates
all unnecessary vibrations and camera shake.


Before the Huawei P9 I was using an iPhone 6 so the switch from iOS to Android
wasn’t too easy but… iPhone cameras were dreadful… sorry but they really were…

After I got the phone I needed to get some lights.
I spoke to few people and ordered few things and I made this diy ring light
using LED light strips with already attached power supply and an old CD spindle case.
I got one meter long light strip, which unfortunately was a bit shorter than what I actually needed…
I rapped some white paper on the inner and outer side of the CD case to diffuse the lights a bit.

from LED Light Strip and CD Case

DIY LED Ring Light

Then it was time to get a better lens for my phone, so got a recommendation to get this one –

Apexel 12/24X Macro Lens for Smartphone

Apexel 12/24X “Macro” Lens for Smartphone

and I believe this stack was done with it –

Focus Stacked - 23 frames | Smartphone & Apexel 12/24x Macro Lens | Estee White Photography | 21 Mar 2017

Tiny Iridescent Beatle

The results were ok and the quality of the lens is fine… but I wanted to get higher magnification…
So after some more research and after talking to few more people I found out that the best thing that I can do is
to disassemble an old optical zoom point and shoot camera and use one of the optics in it’s lens.

Of course I found a somewhat old camera that I no longer needed and I started digging in πŸ™‚
Here is what is left from that camera –

Estee White Photography

Old Samsung WB50F 16.2MP 12x Optical Zoom
Camera Parts

I was able to get out the part that I needed… eventually… and here is my ‘DIY’ closeup lens –

A lot of people would call this a “DIY Macro Lens” even though it’s not,
explanation at the end of the article.

Here is a comparison between the two lenses I used ⬇️

Macro Photos Comparison | Estee White Photography

I never actually measured the exact enlargement that I got with my DIY lens but now that I fully understand how macro magnification is measured when using a mobile phone – I am pretty sure that my images were not macro, they were closeups.

I had my phone on a tripod with a tripod mount holder clip.

As I mentioned above I was taking the photos and adjusting the focus using my earbuds,
which really helps minimizing camera touch and therefore camera shake – essential for focus stacking.

I used a make up sponge to hold the pin with the specimen – yep few girly things were present in my setup πŸ˜‰

I want to say special thank you to:

They have all helped me along the way and I am really grateful πŸ™‚

You might have noticed that every time I used the
word macro in this article I used quotation marks.

In most cases when a smartphone is involved and you come across such terms:

  • “Macro” Lens

  • “Macro” Photography

  • Built-in “Macro” Camera

– you should replace the word macro with the word closeup since this is what they are.

It took me some time to figure this out because of
the widely spread misuse of the word ‘macro’.


The truth is that there is a specific way to measure macro magnification
when using a digital camera
or a
mobile phone
and determine if
an image is true macro or if it’s just a closeup.


I used the quotation marks to indicate that just because
something is labeled as macro, that doesn’t mean
that it is
actually macro.


Mentioned products ↓

Samsung Galaxy S5 – $99.99

Huawei P9
– $69.50

Universal 3 in 1 Lens – $12.36

Apexel 12/24x Macro Lens – $26.77

Samsung WB50F Camera – $199.95

Self Adhesive LED Light Strip – $9.99

Cake Box CD Spindle – $8.94

Helping Hands – $12.00

Tripod – $17.49

Phone Tripod Adapter Mount – $8.95

Precision Tweezers Set – $6.99


Focus Stacks Done With This Setup



After using my phone for a while I did switch to DSLR macro setup.


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