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

Mar 13, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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

Mar 13, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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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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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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

  1. blokeinusa Avatar
    blokeinusa

    Yes, like that new shiney iphone is going to magically make your photography better

  2. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar
    Arthur_P_Dent

    DLSR and “Joe Hopkins University” are probably the best howlers in that ad. (It should be Johns Hopkins University.)

  3. Michael Steedman Avatar
    Michael Steedman

    ‘if it sounds to be good to be true it probably is’. a good rule to go by.

  4. Mr Magoo Avatar
    Mr Magoo

    Funny thing is we can’t choose our adverts and this page had the very same advert for the star scope on the right of the page, as it did on the left saying it was a scam…..you just couldn’t make this stuff up lol.

    Would be nice if advertising outlets could vet products and advertisers before they put them out. By this I don’t mean diyphotography.net but the hosts.

    Stay safe people

    1. Steve Avatar
      Steve

      I noticed it when I saw your post. This crap is so blatant and no one seems to be able to stop it!

  5. TimJ Avatar
    TimJ

    CNET got hooked into putting a link to this “product” in their e-mail updates. A customer quote from the link says it all:”Just got this sick telescope attachment a few weeks ago…”

  6. Clayton Jones Avatar
    Clayton Jones

    Thank you.

  7. Susan Wilkinson Avatar
    Susan Wilkinson

    Starcope Monocular by Trendy Techmedia – complete charlatons! Sent me too many scopes and charged me for them. Given me a PO box to return them to, which no courier will deliver to of course. Has anybody managed to make a return?

  8. berkane Avatar
    berkane

    It was to much beatifull to be real

  9. Sammy Avatar
    Sammy

    Do not order this crap its a scam, there is no UK contact details they are in San Deigo USA. I paid for one of their scopes and it did not arrive when i sent them an email they told me it was still being delivered i placed the order back 7 weeks ago. STAY AWAY STAY AWAY

  10. Keith Maurice King Avatar
    Keith Maurice King

    I was considering this product, but something told me it was way too good to be real. Thanks for the heads up.

  11. Jerry Hignight Avatar
    Jerry Hignight

    I bought one on the TopHatter iPhone app for $9 plus shipping. It works great for me because I bought it to examine microwave dishes on radio towers. I was very surprised at how well it was built, I expected plastic. I personally would not pay the full price for it or even the half price, but for $9 it works great for me. I guess it all depends on what you want to use it for.

  12. Raddaddy Avatar
    Raddaddy

    There is NO nature photographer by name “Kalevi Korhonen” There is Kalevi-keski Korhonen a retired news shooter. deginitely not a guythat designs lenses.

  13. Yrjö Hatakka Avatar
    Yrjö Hatakka

    I thought this is marvelous, name Korhonen appealed to me as I am a Finn. Luckily I started to check for more information. And as so often when something seems to be too good to be true, it isn’t. Thank you for heads ups

  14. Steve Avatar
    Steve

    So much of this scam stuff out there!

  15. Warren Avatar
    Warren

    Starscope is a scam. 28 plus emails and I still can’t get a return label or a phone number. Lily has given me the runaround for over a month. Stay away.