I was recently given the Olloclip 4 in 1 photo lens to review from the good people of AT&T. Having heard of the brand and product, was curious to see what exactly it would bring to the iPhone 5/5s camera. First off, let me just preface this review by stating that I’m not a professional nor an amateur photographer. My experience with cameras, and more specifically phone cameras, have been basically chasing my kids around the yard trying to take an instant photo of them doing something cute, or casual scenic shots when I find something worth taking a photo of. Having said that, I have bought many camera phones in the past starting with the first Megapixel Camera phone offered from Nokia in 2004, the 7610, to one of my favorite camera phones of all time, the Nokia N82. Camera phones have certainly evolved and can now take incredibly good photographs. However, phone cameras still cannot fully replace a dedicated camera, and thus you have many companies developing products that try and bridge the gap between them. This is where the Olloclip Lens comes into play.
The Olloclip comes in a nice retail package and in a variety of colors. The lenses are small and compact and the 4 systems will set you back a cool $69.99. The outer shell is made of metal and so it does give you that premium feel. It also comes with 2 plastic lens covers and a small satin travel bag. The one I received for review was in the red color, which fit well with the overall contemporary look and esthetic of the iPhone. The 4 lenses that come with the unit are fisheye, wide angle, 10x macro, and 15x macro. To access the 10x and 15x lens, you just have to unscrew either the fisheye or wide angle lens. It is a simple and easy system to get up and running, so there’s no fussing around to get your lens fitted onto the phone correctly.
Having clipped the Olloclip onto the iPhone, the lenses do help the iPhone become a better overall camera just because now you have more choice of shots. Here, I took a normal, Fisheye, and Wide Angle shot. You can see the pictures below.
The fisheye and wide angle are nice to have, but not necessary in my opinion. There are apps that can help you achieve similar results. Where I think the Olloclip shines are in the macro shots. I think this is where most people who own the system will most like use the unit for. You can see the pictures below. I took close up shots of mechanical watches. Details are really magnified and look great!
The only problem I encountered was getting a quick focus, because you have to focus by zooming in and out, while adjusting your hand position. Anyone trying to take a macro shot of a moving object will probably find it difficult. Other than that, the photos always turned out really good when you have time to get your hand position right.
So having played with the Olloclip for a week, I have some mixed feelings on the system. On the one hand it is a really great way to take some truly outstanding close up pictures. If you are an avid photographer and you enjoy having a few more lenses to carry with you without having the bulk, it’s a great way to improve the iPhone’s camera. On the other hand, although small, you still have to carry the lenses with you. The lenses than have to be clipped onto the phone, which protrudes out, so there’s no way to carry it clipped on in your pocket (one could carry it in a purse, satchel, etc.). I wonder if there’s anyway of incorporating the macro lenses into a case, which would allow you to choose the different lenses at a push or slide of a button. If they develop it, than I would consider buying it, but for now, I think the Olloclip was developed for more serious photographers in mind and not for someone who takes casual family photos, photographers like myself.