Cool Link: Kevin Buchanan Reviews the POPA and the Olloclip for iPhone 4 and 4S

popa olloclip iPhone 4
iPhone 4 fitted with a POPA and an Olloclip. Photo by Kevin Buchanan

iPhoneographer Kevin Buchanan is an intersting and creative Fort Worther. I had been reading his blog FortWorthology for years before we finally met this year at a local showing of his iPhone photography. Kevin has also had some of his photos selected for our regular “Faved On Flickr” feature as well.

Kevin recently reviewed two accessories for iPhoneographers — the POPA shutter release and the popular Olloclip, both for the iPhone 4 and 4S. Click past the jump for my thoughts and for a link to the review on Kevin’s blog. >>>>

Two recent Kickstarter projects oriented toward those of us who love using our iPhones as photographic tools have become actual shipping products, and I’ve got one of each. I thought I’d share my thoughts on these two accessories for the benefit of the curious and my fellow iPhone photography enthusiasts.

The POPA, a camera grip and physical shutter button, and the Olloclip, a quick-change lens system, are both designed for the iPhone 4 and 4S. Each takes an innovative approach to solving its respective set of problems.

While I have hands on with the Olloclip, my review would have been jaded by the fact that I really, really prefer to use a case with my iPhone 4 (that’s a post that’s been written and is forthcoming). I’ve been aware of the POPA since it was a Kickstarter project. Kevin gives it pretty high marks, illustrating its added value despite the addition of the “VolumeSnap” shutter release in iOS5. It’s one post with two very thorough reviews.

Click here to read Kevin’s entire review on his blog, Tomorrowville.


Well, that was last year. Unfortunately, since this post was written, Kevin’s blog, has gone offline. You can check this link periodically to see if this is just a glitch in the internets:


About Marty Yawnick 1808 Articles
Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.
  • Kevin Buchanan

    Thanks for the link, Marty! I should definitely note that these accessories are both coming from my perspective of a case-less iPhone user – if you've got cases or screen protectors, neither will probably be a good choice for you.

    VolumeSnap is really handy, no doubt, but I do find the positioning of the volume buttons makes them less-than-ideal shutter buttons in how I normally hold my iPhone for photography, and the giant shutter button of POPA plus that really nicely designed grip takes things to another level.

  • @skiphunt

    I'm curious… if you're going to start adding all these gizmos, shutter releases, better ergonomics, lenses, etc. to your iPhone… why not just shoot a nice compact instead and transfer your images to the iPhone or iPad for editing?

  • Kevin Buchanan

    Carrying an iPhone plus, say, the POPA is still easier and more convenient than carrying around the iPhone and another camera. Plus, it's just a fun device, and that's the most important thing – have fun. I stopped worrying about this stuff and just decided to enjoy myself a long time ago.

    If I really wanted to use something nicer, I wouldn't bother getting a nice compact, as I don't feel they're *that* much better than the iPhone for 90% of day-to-day uses to justify the cost and carrying anymore (and I used to be a big follower of things like the Canon PowerShot G-series). For bigger things, I've got Micro Four Thirds, DSLR, and a fleet of 35mm and medium-format film cameras. My iPhone's my go-to day-to-day camera, so why not add a little variety to it? It's all in fun.

    • @skiphunt

      Nothing against the POPA or any of the gadgets, but what first attracted me to the iPhone was the elegance of being gadget free, in my pocket, simple, point and shoot. When you start adding a bunch of gizmos to keep track of, it sort of spoils the reason I was drawn to the simple format in the first place.

      I don't agree that the iPhone meets 90% of the day to day use. If you want an optical zoom and shallow DOF in the image without having to fake it digitally with apps, you're not going to get it in the current iPhones period.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of using the iPhone as a camera. I've published books using all iPhone images and they printed beautifully. Actually MUCH better than I expected:

      And I've got some work curated by SevenDays-IN that was all shot via iPhone 4:… and a fresh collection just launched here:

      So don't take me for an iPhone Photography "hater". I LOVE using the iPhone and feel the psychology of it's use is completely different from conventional cameras as I recently wrote about here:

      What I don't get is spoiling the beauty and minimal simplicity of the device by juggling a bunch of gadgets to try and turn it into a sophisticated point and shoot. For that I'd rather use something like the Olympus XZ-1 or the Panasonic LX series cams. Or perhaps the Fuji X10.

      I'm not talking about this POPA thingy. That alone looks cool and something I might consider trying out some time. What I'm talking about, as noted in my original post, is the inclination of some to start collecting a bunch of these iPhone gadgets to carry around when you might as well just carry a point and shoot with more control and resolution as well as RAW files to edit if you need them.

      Funny, I loathe "shutterbug-photo-purist-pixel-peeper" arguments, but here I am now sounding like an iPhone photography purist. 😉

  • david

    Got a Popa and i have to say im really upset with it. It always disconnects from the device! They said that the next software update would fix this problem yet it didnt! why sell a product that doesnt work. It really is to bad because it could be a great iphone companion.