Although Dan had previously reviewed the ōlloclip () when I met the folks from ōlloclip at the LA Times Travel Show, they were kind enough to give me an ōlloclip for iPhone 4/4S to test out for myself. They also showed me a new case they are developing to go with the ōlloclip, which is not quite ready for sale yet, but is quite impressive in person. Once they are ready to bring it to market, I’m hoping to get one to be able to review, but I can tell you that the case functions not only as the only case to be compatible with the ōlloclip, but as a shutter (over the volume button) and has both horizontal and vertical tripod mounts. It looks like it will be a very nice companion to the ōlloclip lens system and will priced at about $50.
The ōlloclip lens system contains 3 lenses for your iPhone; fisheye, wide-angle and macro. The lenses are housed in a plastic clip that fits over the top corner of your iPhone and positions the lens in exactly the right spot over the iPhone camera. As anyone who has used similar magnetic lenses could tell you, the biggest challenge to using them is to get them properly aligned to be able to take your photo. The ōlloclip solves that problem in an easy to use solution and works with both still photos and with video. The ōlloclip comes in a black housing with red lenses, white housing with black lenses or black housing and black lenses.
The fisheye lens is on one side and the wide-angle and macro lenses on the opposite side. To switch them, you remove the ōlloclip and flip it over and replace it on the top corner of your iPhone. To use the macro lens, you unscrew the wide-angle lens and put it in your pocket and hope you don’t lose it before you’re ready to put it back on again.
However, in the testing of the ōlloclip, I destroyed my screen shield and the skin on the back of my phone. The fit of the ōlloclip is so tight that it just lifts and crumples any skin or shield on your phone. You could solve this problem by cutting the shield or skin out just enough in the corner to allow room for the ōlloclip, if you really want to be able to use a skin or shield and the ōlloclip at the same time.
So, the real question is how are the photos from the ōlloclip and how do they compare to similar magnetic lenses? Check out the photos below for the answers!
This is our baseline. For reference, my iPhone was mounted on a tripod and the distance from the tripod to the base of the windmill is 16 feet, and yes I do have a windmill in my backyard…LOL!
As you can see above, the quality of the images with the magnetic lens vs. the ōlloclip, the ōlloclip is a clear winner! Additionally, trying to get the magnetic lens properly aligned on the iPhone takes some time, and is challenging to get correctly into position.
With the wide-angle lenses you can again see the superior quality of the ōlloclip. The image is sharper and brighter and like with the fisheye, it is challenging to get the magnetic lens into the correct position. The magnetic lens also without zooming in showed the “circle” shadows of the lens. That did go away if you zoomed in a bit, but there was no zooming required by the ōlloclip.
The macro lenses seemed fairly equal overall. I was chasing a bee through the blooms of my apple tree and oddly, he didn’t seem to want to stay in a single place long enough for the iPhone to be able to focus on him. Neither lens helped that process particularly, but I did get a couple of odd parts in focus in a few shots, but none that I would consider a “good” shot.
The ōlloclip package insert says that the subject of your macro should be approximately 1/2 inch from the lens, which is quite impressive. However in practice, anyone familiar with macro photography would tell you that from that distance with something as large as the iPhone you’ll wind up blocking a lot of the light on your subject. You’ll want to pay attention to your light sources when you are using any macro lens.
Summary: The ōlloclip Lens System is a very neat little package that allows you to keep multiple lenses for your iPhone (4, 4S or 5, and inserts are available to make them compatible with a 4th or 5th generation iPod touch) handy in a single convenient package. It takes the guess-work and frustration out of attempting to use magnetic lenses and keeps you from having to stick little round adhesive discs to your phone for the magnetic lenses to use. The optics in the ōlloclip also give you better photos than the magnetic lenses. The ōlloclip can be used with any camera or video app in the app store. If you like iPhoneography, then the ōlloclip would be a welcome addition to your gear, and with the included carrying pouch is a breeze to toss into your bag so it’s on hand when you want it.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Perfectly positions the lens over the iPhone camera, includes a carrying pouch, superior lens quality over currently available magnetic lenses.
What Needs Improvement: No way to use screen shields and/or back skins, a bit on the pricey side, nowhere to put the wide-angle lens while you’re using the macro lens. Not currently compatible with any cases which means it can only be used with a totally naked iPhone.