When I bought my first iPhone last month, there was one accessory I knew I wanted – the Olloclip lens. I actually kept the Olloclip site open in a Safari tab on my Mac so I could check every day to see if the fantastically popular iPhone 4/S accessory had been updated for the new iPhone.
I have been playing with this review unit for a couple weeks now and it’s just as great as I expected, although there are one or two things I don’t like. Let’s take a look…
The Olloclip is actually three lenses, all contained in a little clip which slips over the corner of your iPhone and puts one of those lenses in front of the camera. You get a fisheye and a wide-angle, and if you unscrew the wide-angle there’s a macro lens underneath.
Both main lenses have their ow plastic caps, and you can keep the Olloclip in your pocket or in the little fabric bag which comes with it.
The reason the iPhone is the most popular camera, like, ever is that it’s always ready to use. And now, with the slide-to-shoot shortcut on the home screen, it’s even faster. So any accessory has to be eqaully quick to deploy.
And speed is where the Olloclip shines. I ditched the little drawstring bag for a Velcro-backed pouch that came with one of my camera bags, so I can keep the Olloclip permanently to hand just inside my murse. I just grab it, slide it onto the corner of the iPhone, pop off the lens cap and I’m shooting.
Compare this to sticking magnetic rings onto your iPhone and struggling with individual lenses and the difference is huge. The Olloclip automatically lines up with the iPhone’s camera thanks to its design, and switching sides is as easy as whipping it off, turning it around, pausing for a second in confusion and sliding it back on.
The results are also good – if you remember you’re adding cheap glass to the front of the iPhone’s carefully-crafted lens, that is.
And finally, for shooting video the Olloclip is all but essential. The video app crops in on the center of the camera’s sensor, presumably to allow for the iPhone 5’s great image stabilization. But this means that you’er often way too close to your subject. Clip on the Olloclip’s wide lenses and things open back up again.
There’s not much not to like. The tight grip of the clip on the iPhone makes me think that it’ll scratch the iPhone’s lens as it slides on and off, but that fear appears to be unfounded.
The lens caps are also a little annoying: easy to lose, easy to knock off in a pocket and tiny. To be fair, this is a problem with all lens caps ever. I solve the problem with my little yellow pouch, which lets me keep the lens safe, and without the lens caps: I just don’t bother with them.
And that’s it. Like I said, this thing is almost perfect. No, it doesn’t have a telephoto lens. And no, it doesn’t work with a case, but that’s what design is about – compromise. And the folks at Olloclip made some smart decisions when designing this little dongle.
If you’re a fan of the previous iPhone 4/S Olloclip, you’ll be familiar with this one. It does the same thing in a slightly slimmer package.
If you’re looking to buy a new lens for your new iPhone, this should be at the top of your list unless a) you always use a case or b) you need a telephoto lens. If so, there are other options (including a case with a removable telephoto lens!) which you should research.
Is the Olloclip worth the $70 asking price? If you’re in the market for an accessory lens, then the answer is “hell yes.”