The Olloclip ($70) is a clip-on device for iPhone 4 and 4S which gives the built-in camera lens a little more flexibility for wide angle and close-up shots.
It includes three lenses. At one end, the largest of the three is the fisheye. At the other end you have a general-purpose wide angle. Unscrew this, and you uncover a tiny macro lens nestling underneath.
The whole assembly sits snugly on the corner of your iPhone 4 or 4S, so that the lens you want to use covers your phone’s built-in camera lens. That inevitably means the phone’s power button is covered too, but that’s not a big problem.
The Olloclip is designed to be just wide enough to slide on, and stay on simply by gripping the edges of the phone. It’s pretty stable, and won’t come off while you’re simply holding the phone in your hands and lining up a shot. But it might well come off in your pocket or your bag, or if you move your arm around in a forceful way. Don’t run with the Olloclip attached, because it will probably fly off.
The Olloclip comes with two simple push-on lens caps. On going for a photographic wander, I found myself taking these off and leaving them off, so it’s a good idea to take the Olloclip’s little draw-string storage bag with you too – it’s the ideal place to store these lens caps while they’re not in use.
Now let’s take a look at each of the lenses, starting with the fisheye.
Your first look through it may be disappointing if you have the same problem I did, which is that the circular image isn’t quite centered. Rather, it’s offset towards one corner of the image.
Don’t panic, this is a fixable problem. It’s caused by tiny (I mean really tiny) variations in the position of the iPhone camera’s lens. Even the smallest variation can cause the Olloclip’s additional adjustment to look wrong. Olloclip know about this, and provide instructions for dealing with it. In short, they designed some flexibility into the fisheye lens mount, so it can be gently pushed into position. Once this is done, everything’s rosy.
Rosy, and lots of fun. The fisheye is my favorite of all three of these lenses. It’s lovely to play around with a genuine glass fisheye, rather than a software alternative. You start looking around you for things that will look good with fisheye distortion, and that in itself makes you think about your surroundings, and your photography, in a different way.
Here’s a photo of the interior of Bath Abbey here in the UK, taken with the fisheye:
On the opposite side of the Olloclip is the general wide angle. It offers a decent half-way point between the phone’s natural view and the extreme wide view you get from the fisheye. Here’s a photo taken from the same spot in Bath Abbey, this time with the wide angle:
Finally we have the macro lens, and this one surprised me. Frankly I didn’t expect much, having experimented with macro adaptors on other lenses and camera before. But this one really does the job.
You need to get right up close to your subject, about a centimetre or so. In good light, you can get really excellent results.
Here’s my finger tip:
The only problem is that simply by bringing your phone so close to the subject, you might find yourself blocking out the light you need for the shot. And some subjects, like interesting-looking bugs, might get spooked by the intrusion and fly away.
That minor problem aside, the macro function is pretty impressive, and I was very pleased with the images I got with it.
Overall the Olloclip is a good deal and well priced at $69.99. I’ve no doubt you can get cheaper lens add-ons, but this one is a quality product and quality is always worth paying for. It’s tiny and weighs almost nothing, so it’s easy to carry it everywhere you go. All three lenses have their uses, and give your already-pretty-damn-good iPhone camera that little bit more flexibility.
If you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas for your iPhone-photo-taking loved one, the Olloclip could be a good choice.