Learn Inspiration

How to Take Dramatic Photos With a 0.5 Lens

By Isabelle | Inspiration

Not so long ago, cell phones could only take shaky, low-grade images, and before that, they had no cameras at all. But in the last twenty years, phone cameras have only gotten more and more advanced, to the point where anyone with a smartphone and a little practice can be a decent photographer. 

Cell phones today actually outperform most point-and-shoot cameras, and mobile editing tools like the BeFunky app can help anyone take their smartphone photography to the next level. Newer phones even come equipped with multiple lenses – which brings us to the 0.5 lens. 

What Is a 0.5x Lens?

The 0.5x (“point five”) lens is an ultra-wide camera lens that allows you to capture a much broader scene than your typical phone camera. It first debuted as a smartphone lens with the Samsung Galaxy S10 in 2019, and has also been a feature of every iPhone since the iPhone 12.

The 0.5x lens has a focal length of 13mm as opposed to the default phone camera’s 26mm. Focal length determines how much field of view your camera will have. The easiest way to see the difference between your default wide-angle lens and the 0.5x ultra-wide lens is to switch between them. Notice how the 0.5x lens allows you to “zoom out” further than your default lens. 

.5 lens example

A photo taken with the 0.5x lens will have a much wider field of vision than the human eye. It’s ideal for capturing broad scenes, tall buildings, group selfies, and more.  

How Do I Use the 0.5x Lens on My Smartphone?

To use the 0.5x lens on your phone, first, make sure you have one! If your phone has two or more different lenses on the back, it’s likely that you can take 0.5x shots. You can double-check in your camera app: If you have a 0.5x, there should be a button somewhere allowing you to switch to that lens.  

If you can’t quite figure it out, check out this article on using the 0.5x lens with your Samsung, or this article on using the 0.5x lens with your iPhone.

When Should I Take a 0.5x Photo?

Because a 0.5x lens allows you to capture more of a scene than your regular phone lens, it’s often used for selfies and landscapes. For selfies, it allows you to get more of the background behind you, so it’s perfect if you’re traveling solo, or don’t want anyone to be left out of the group shot. Make sure to test out different angles, and reach out your arm as far as possible – or use a selfie stick!

.5 lens portrait

Using the 0.5x lens on your phone is perfect for landscapes and scenery because it allows you to take in more of the view. Use it to capture broad cityscapes, tall trees, and more. Try playing with the angle you’re shooting from to create more dramatic perspectives. 

.5 lens scenery

The 0.5x lens is great for some scenarios, but works poorly in others. The aperture on the 0.5x lens is smaller than the default (2.4F vs. 1.8F), meaning it doesn’t allow in as much light. So, nighttime and low-light interior shots taken with the 0.5x lens may end up blurry or grainy. 

.5 lens dark

Another thing to watch out for is the distortion that comes with any ultra-wide lens. Because the field of vision is so wide, the edges and corners of your photo may appear to bend outwards. This happens most often when you’re very close to your subject, which is why kids these days have started taking all those weird selfies

Luckily, you can actually reverse some of this distortion with BeFunky’s Lens Distortion effect. Just look at the difference between the two photos below. The first is a regular 0.5x taken from a close angle, and the second is the exact same photo with -80% Lens Distortion applied.

.5 lens selfie

Essentially, the trick to using your 0.5x lens is to pick your subjects carefully. Do you want to capture more of a scene without physically moving the phone? Are you trying to create a cinematic effect? Does it make for a better selfie? If so, then the 0.5x lens might be right for that moment. If you’re in a hurry, you can always take a photo with both your default lens and the 0.5x lens and pick out your favorite later.

How Do I Take a Good 0.5x Photo?

Taking a good 0.5x photo starts with your subject. The 0.5x lens is particularly good at capturing landscapes, cityscapes, and any interesting architecture or nature. It’s great for portraits in beautiful places because it allows you to capture both the subject and the background, even if you’re a short distance away. 

.5 lens portrait 2

The 0.5x lens is also great for dramatic, cinematic-looking photos. The wide angle lets you create exaggerated lines that help increase a photo’s sense of scale. You can intensify this effect by shooting from very low or very high angles, and minimize it by shooting level with your subject. 

.5 lens various

One risk with ultra-wide lenses is that you may end up capturing too much negative space: Empty sky, empty road, or something similar. Unless this is your intention, it could make your photo boring to look at. You can’t necessarily rely on shooting now and cropping later: The image quality isn’t quite as high as it is with your default camera. So to combat the issue of negative space, it’s best to change your angle or move closer to your subject before you shoot. 

If you find that you’re unable to do either of these things but still have significant negative space, consider switching back to the default 1x lens. Or, if it’s bright enough outside, cropping is still an option—try BeFunky’s Crop tool along with our host of other mobile editing effects.

Make the Most of Your 0.5x Lens With Dramatic Editing

The 0.5x lens is amazing for creating dynamic, dramatic photography right from your smartphone – but you might need a little help. The Photo Editor on the free BeFunky mobile app features a whole suite of sophisticated tools, filters, and effects that can help you produce more cinematic photos.

Try out the Crop tool on well-lit photos to get a tighter composition. 

.5 lens tutorial crop

Color and Exposure tools allow you to adjust the warmth, saturation, shadows, and light in your image. 

.5 lens color and exposure

Or, skip the manual color adjustments by applying an effect like one of our Warmer Tones

.5 lens effect

You can also add one of our Cinematic effects to heighten the sense of scale and depth in your photo. The Anamorphic effect will slightly distort your already ultra-wide photo, plus add a slight blur and vignette to the edges.

.5 lens cinematic

Just look at the difference a few clicks on your phone can make in creating an even more dramatic 0.5x photo!

.5 lens after
.5 lens before



Take Your Photos to the Next Level With the 0.5x Lens

The ultra-wide lens on your smartphone is an amazing tool if you know how to use it. Level up your mobile photography by creating more intense, cinematic images with your phone’s built-in 0.5x lens. Heighten the drama with Vignettes, the Funky Focus tool, Cinematic effects, and more. You can access all these tools and more right now using the free BeFunky mobile app!

Photo Editing, Simplified.

Photo Editing. Simplified