Don’t fall for the StarScope Monocular “telescope” smartphone lens scam

Tips & Techniques

This sort of thing seems to pop up quite regularly. Optics that defy the laws of physics that you can attach to your phone to make it better than a DSLR. And, bonus, it only costs $48! This time, it’s the StarScope Monocular, which makes some pretty bold and ridiculous claims, as you can see in this video from Computer Clan.

Such companies prey on the inexperience of those who don’t know any better. To anybody who actually understands cameras, lenses and a bit of physics, such “lenses” could never do 99% of the things they claim they can in the real world.

It’s an ad that regularly seems to pop up on Facebook and other social media. I’ve seen it myself a few times. And a lot of the footage they use looks a little familiar, making us think that we’ve seen it before and we can trust it. Well, the reason it looks like we’ve seen it before is because they’re using stock footage to scam potential customers.

The StarScope Monocular is a “telescope” lens for your smartphone which makes a lot of bold claims about its abilities. It can zoom into subjects miles away (for real, hundreds of millions of miles, so they claim), and lets you beat out the image quality of a “DLSR” (yup, I know it’s DSLR, that’s a quote from their ad) at a hundredth of the price. But it’s all nonsense.

Even the supposed “backstory” of the company and the product is completely made up, from stolen and stock footage, the invention of fake institutions and the ads usually contain the usual “exclusive 50% discount” deal to make it look like you’re getting a bargain. The truth is that these things are never sold anywhere for what they claim is the pre-discounted price. The discounted price is just the price – and it’s still expensive for what it really is.

The footage claimed to be shot by a smartphone with this “telescope” isn’t real, either. Clips were shot with other cameras and stolen, like this Nikon P900 zoom test from a couple of years ago or they were stock footage. Other shots are just completely impossible for something like this to ever be able to create, like the one claiming that you can photograph Saturn (746,000,000+ miles away) with your smartphone using this lens.

There are plenty of other red flags in their ads, including inconsistent spec claims from one part of the ad to another, and obviously simulated and composited smartphone screens to make it look like that’s what the phone’s actually seeing when it’s obviously not – although it might fool the inexperienced on first glance. Most “reviews” are just paid ads disguised to look like reviews, and a lot of them don’t even use the same product name (while showing the same product).

You might not have been considering this lens… Or, you might have been. But either way, it serves as a fantastic example to not take random photography and video products from unknown companies at face value.

So, what can you do to stop yourself from being taken for a ride by unknown companies like this trying to sell products that sound way too good to be true?

Well, for a start, you can try applying some logic and common sense. If you have either of those things, try Googling the product to see what other people have to say. Real people, not paid ads.

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