ōlloclip camera lens kit for iPhone 4 & 4S review
When I walked into my local Apple Store and saw they were stocking slide-on lenses for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, I was very excited. There are a lot of times that it’s just more convenient for me to take a shot with my iPhone 4′s 5.0 megapixel camera than it is to take out and assemble my DSLR. While the DSLR takes better pictures, at least now I have some good options for my phone, which I end up using as my back-up camera at times. Additionally, since my DSLR doesn’t do video, these lenses are nice because I rely on my phone to take my HD video.
About the product
The ōlloclip is a cool story. It was a Kickstarter funded project that gives the iPhone 4 and 4S three additional options when taking photos or videos on your iPhone. There is a fisheye lens that has an approximate field of view of 180 degrees. There is also a wide-angle lens that actually unscrews to reveal a macro lens that actually has a focal distance of a half-an-inch. All this in a neat little package that you can fit in your pocket in the included microfiber bag that doubles as a cleaning cloth.
One of the nice things about the ōlloclip is that it is, as described, a clip-on lens. It slides right on your iPhone. There is even a little cut out in the plastic clip for your sleep-wake button, so it doesn’t interfere. The plastic glides on smoothly and leaves no marks on either the front or the back of the phone. My iPhone has no screen protector on it, and the ōlloclip fits snugly. I tried it on a friend’s iPhone that had an InvisiShield on the front, one of the thicker screen protectors on the market, and as long as I put the front of the lenses on first, and then let it slide onto the back, it didn’t even lift the protector. I would imaging, though, that with InvisiShields front and rear, this may provide a bit of a challenge. One major disadvantage of the lenses, though, is that I have to take my case (an orange Apple bumper) off in order to put on the lenses. Any case is probably going to provide this same challenge. However, from what is listed on the ōlloclip website, other lenses that use magnets can actually interfere with the iPhone’s internal compass, GPS, and cell antennas, so the slide-on, slide-off design will not damage your iPhone.
Now, onto the lenses. First off, the fisheye. It is exactly as advertised, and probably the lens I was most excited about when I saw the packaging in the store. It has a great field of view. While it’s not an exact 180 degrees, it is darn close. However, this does present a bit of a problem in taking pictures. The way you hold your iPhone to take pictures sometimes results in your fingers in the frame. You have to be very careful to make sure you crop those out. There is also some slight vignetting that goes on in the corners of the frame.
This vignetting is less noticeable when you switch the camera over to video, however, as is the fisheye effect. This seems to be because the iPhone crops when it switches to video. The fisheye also has the nice effect of letting the iPhone focus on images that are closer than it normally could, as well.
Next up is the wide angle lens. The wide angle does a great job of capturing much more in a single frame than the normal iPhone camera can. The ōlloclip website claims it expands the native viewing angle by a factor of two. This I can certainly believe. The wide-angle also has minimal distortion, even at the far edges. In my demo image, you can start to see a slight bit of distortion along the top of my computer, but even there, it’s minimal. The greater amount you can fit into frame certainly, in my opinion, outweighs the distortion, but you can certainly be the judge of that for yourself.
Finally comes the macro lens. Just the fisheye and wide-angle make this an incredible package, so even with the macro’s limited usage, it is certainly the icing on the cake. The fact that it focuses a mere half-inch away from the iPhone is absolutely mind-blowing. My friends are always wowed when I show them their phone focusing so closely, and so crisply! However, as I mentioned earlier, the wonderful close-in focusing means the usage of that lens is a little limited. It’s a great little toy, but I certainly don’t see myself using it as much as the fisheye for those close-in applications.
Yes, the fisheye cannot get as close, however, it is able to capture so much more in frame. However, that being said, being able to dominate the frame with an App icon is truly fantastic. But you can see the comparison between focusing on the macro and the fisheye.
In conclusion, I really am a big fan of the ōlloclip. It is not without its flaws, but in the end, it happens to be three camera lenses I can keep in my pocket and attach to a pretty awesome camera quickly. Additionally, since the camera is also a phone, I can e-mail my pictures, MMS them to friends, or upload them to Twitter very quickly no matter where I am. And since the lenses do not require any particular app to use (though I’ve taken all my pictures with the default, built-in iPhone 4 camera app), you can use your favorite. That means you can still use your Instagram, your Camera+, your Quickpix or whatever app you may already have to add more flavor to those shots. And at $69.99 for either the black or red, it is certainly not overpriced. Additionally, it is incredibly portable. I pretty much keep mine in a side pocket all day and hardly notice that it is there.
I would give it a solid 4/5 stars. The cons keeping me from giving it a full 5-star rating are the fact that it doesn’t fit over any cases and the limited amount of things that you can do with the macro, at least in my experience.