Today I’m having a look at the Olloclip 4-in-1, an attachable lens kit available for the iPhone. I’m testing it on the iPhone 4, but I understand that the Olloclip also works on the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S.
As you’d guess, the Olloclip has four different lenses, mounted in a 2×2 configuration around a plastic clip that attaches to the corner of your iPhone, to rest above the camera. On one side you have a fisheye lens and a 15x macro zoom, while on the other side there’s a wide angle lens and a 10x zoom. You get fisheye and wide angle by default, and then you can unscrew the metallic red section on either side to use the corresponding macro lens below.
Unfortunately it’s this unscrewing mechanic which proved to be the biggest drawback to the device; for no matter how hard I tried I simply could not unscrew one of the lenses. While it’s possible I was afflicted with a strange and specific unscrewing sickness that sapped me of my strength, apparently this sickness is contagious as it also prevented friends and even a few strangers from unscrewing the lens either. While the lens didn’t break despite my most heroic efforts, neither did it yield the fourth lens so I can only assume I was the victim of a manufacturing defect.
The Olloclip also doesn’t sit very well with iPhone cases, so I needed to remove my case each time I wanted to use the lens kit. This is understandable, but still quite inconvenient. Once installed, the lens also felt quite insecure – it would fall off if I placed the phone in my bag or dropped it onto a table. This means that you’re constantly installing and uninstalling the device; you have to really commit to a spell of photography to make this worthwhile. I wonder if a different or stronger securing mechanism could improve on these pain points.
Once installed and steadied the Olloclip does produce both unique and high quality pictures. The wide angle and fisheye lens capture dramatically more of a scene than the default iPhone camera, and without too much loss of quality. The macro lens was also impressive, capturing static subjects of the appropriate scale convincingly.
However, the macro lens needs to be incredibly close to your subject matter – practically touching – and that makes it difficult to use on anything that moves even a bit, like insects or flowers in the wind. You’re also limited to objects about the size of a penny if you want to capture them in their entirety, which is understandable but again a noticeable limitation.
Ultimately, the OlloClip 4-in-1 is an easy to use system that provides the opportunity for novel pictures. While the cost is quite high (around £60 from Apple direct) and the Olloclip isn’t without its limitations, I’d recommend it for the most avid iPhone photographers looking to shake up what they can do. A good Christmas gift, perhaps?