Great iPhone-Ography with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Olloclip Active Lens Set

We recently reviewed a new lens system from Olloclip. That was not the only new product Olloclip rolled out. In this review we will take a look at two more of them — the Olloclip Active Lens Set for iPhone 7 and 7 PLUS and Olloclip Pivot. Both take iPhone-ography to a new level of awesome.

The Active Lens Set has an MSRP of $119.95. I’ll admit that’s not inexpensive. At the same time if you are looking to take your iPhone camera to a new level of awesome it is actually a fairly reasonable price. That’s especially true because, with the new offerings, Olloclip has taken the optics to a new level. As they explain:

The all-new Active Lens Set empowers your adventurous side with brand new premium multi-element Telephoto and Ultra-Wide lenses – designed to give the best of both worlds. The complete system, loaded with a 2x optical zoom and “action camera” field-of-view, makes it easy to shoot farther and wider than ever before possible with your iPhone’s built-in camera.

It will not come as a surprise that, like the Core Lens Set we reviewed recently, the Active Lens set employs the company’s new CONNECT interchangeable lens system. This new system is a slight departure from the one previously employed by Olloclip. And, while it takes abut of a learning curve to get used to the new approach, once you spend some time with it, I have little doubt you will appreciate how it works. After all, the new CONNECT system lets you use the new lenses with both the front and rear cameras. That’s key since Apple not only improved the rear camera yet again but, with the release of the iPhone 7, Apple made the front-facing FaceTime camera a good enough camera for use to get great shots also.

I went into depth on the CONNECT system in my review of the Core Lens Set. Rather than rehash my thoughts about it I suggest you check out that review if you want more information. (Click here to read my thoughts on the new approach.)

The Active Lens Set includes an adapter for both the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. On the one hand that’s a bit of a waste. After all, if you have an iPhone 7 you will never use the adapter for the iPhone 7 Plus. And if you have an iPhone 7 Plus you will never use the adapter for the iPhone 7. But by including both adapters with the Active Lens Set Olloclip made it possible to have just a single skew for the set and still have both sizes of iPhone covered. In addition, I guess if you have an iPhone 7 and you share a residence with someone who uses an iPhone 7 Plus it means you can have one lens kit and share it. (Raina and I both have the smaller iPhone so the iPhone 7 Plus adapter will simply sit in the box. And since I already had the iPhone 7 adapter from the Core Lens Kit I reviewed, the iPhone 7 adapter from the Active Lens Set will also sit in the box.)

Okay, enough about that. Let’s talk about why you might want to purchase the Active Lens Set in the first place.

The Active Lens set includes two lenses that will be of great use if you want to take outdoor pictures. One lens is the Ultra-Wide lens. The other lens is the 2X Telephoto lens.

 

ULTRA-WIDE

The Ultra Wide lens lets you get ‘155° “action camera” field-of-view’ images. This is the lens Olloclip recommends if you are an “adventure shooter.” They also suggest it is ideal for portraitists who are looking to get “more dynamic context in landscape and portrait imagery.” That may be the case but I do know that I wish I had this lens with me when Raina and I were out west last summer. We visited a number of National Parks including Zion, Bryce, and the Grand Canyon. Each was more magnificent than the last. Each was worthy of dozens of pictures. But each was so large, so magnificent and so impressive that one picture simply dd not do justice to what we were seeing. I tried using the Panorama feature of the iPhone. It captured a wider view but often introduced a good degree of distortion. Had I had the Olloclip Active Set already I would have been able to take gorgeous wide shots without the distortion. Sadly it was not yet available.

So how does this lens impact images? Here are a few comparison shots.

TELEPHOTO 2X

The Telephoto lens does exactly what its name suggests. It is an “advanced 2x optical zoom lens” that gets you closer to the action than you would otherwise be. Sure, with the great resolution offers by the iPhone 7’s camera you could simply take a picture and then crop in closer but that’s not really the same thing. Olloclip suggests this lens is great because it “brings you closer to the action and captures stunning portraits with crisp clarity and a shallow depth-of-field.” And while this is just a 2X zoom and doesn’t come close to the telephoto I had with my Sony A6000 mirrorless camera, it is a great way to easily get a bit closer to your subject without having to crop or use the iPhone’s zoom feature. Because let’s face it, the iPhone’s zoom doesn’t do the best job of getting sharp closeups from a distance. This lens would have been great on our honeymoon a little over a year ago. We went to Hawaii and spent some amazing time at Volcano National Park. The volcano was truly remarkable but I wish I had been able to get closeups of the steam it was sending out.

So how does THIS lens impact images? Here are a few shots.

The Active Lens Set Features:

  • New improved optics! Premium multi-element coated glass optics deliver superior image quality
  • Easy-to-use, patented system attaches and aligns instantly with no extra parts needed
  • Selfie-ready to work seamlessly on both front and rear-facing cameras
  • Connect™ interchangeable lens system for creating the perfect set to match your adventure
  • Hinged base keeps the lens flush with the camera for improved optical performance
  • Screen protector friendly up to 0.5mm
  • Wearable Pendant Stand keeps the lens accessible and opens to create a pocket-sized tripod
  • Works with all camera apps and is even great for video, time-lapse, panoramas and 360° VR photos

The Olloclip Active Lens Set has an MSRP of $119.99. You can also get the Core Lens set for $99.99 and the Macro Pro Lens Set for $79.99.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Includes adapter for both iPhone 7s; Storage piece doubles as a stand; Works with both front and rear cameras;

What Needs Improvement: There’s a bit of a learning curve coming from old system; Including both adapters is wasteful; Takes some time to learn how to shoot well with it.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.