Gear Review: olloclip for iPhone 5
olloclip is one of the most anticipated accessories for iPhone 5 and is shipping now.
The original olloclip is one of the most popular accessories for iPhone 4S and 4. It’s a small, lightweight, easy to use 3-in-1 lens rig that simply clips on to your device, adding optical fisheye, macro, and wide angle lenses to your iPhone’s camera.
The olloclip for iPhone 5 is now shipping (just in time for the holidays). It’s every bit as good as its predecessor. Keep reading past the jump to find out more. >>>
I’ve got both olloclips — for iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5. This review is applicable for both except where noted.
The olloclip is a small and lightweight. It’s one of the most convenient lens add-ons you can get for iPhone. When not in use, the whole rig fits easily in your pocket with minimal bulge. The kit comes with caps for both lenses. It all fits neatly in a microfiber bag that you can also use to clean your optics in a pinch. The entire kit is well-designed and well thought out. For just fun shooting, I really like that I can just keep olloclip in my pocket, rather than having to tote my camera bag with cases, lenses and other gear.
olloclip comes with three lenses. There’s an optical fisheye lens with an approximate 180° field of view. For a true fisheye effect, there are no apps that can match a fisheye lens. The lens grabs a much greater field of view than any app can try to recreate.
olloclip also has a combination macro/wide angle lens. The wide angle lens effectively doubles the field of view of your iPhone. One of the elements of the wide angle lens unscrews to reveal a 10X macro lens with a tiny focal distance of down to 1/2″.
The optics are coated glass and are similar to the lenses found in the Gizmon and Photojojo wide angle and fisheye lenses. Unlike these other lens kits, olloclip doesn’t require a separate case. You also don’t need to deface your iPhone by gluing a metal ring to the back of the case.
Unlike with magnetic mount rings, the olloclip’s lens alignment is perfect every time you clip it on the iPhone. There’s no fiddling trying to center the lens in the viewfinder while risking losing your shot. The olloclip attaches in position on the corner of your iPhone in seconds.
Photo Quality of the olloclip
The quality of images shot with olloclip is simply the best in this class of smartphone lenses, beating out the Gizmon, Photojojo and DiffCase lenses. The optics in these products are essentially the same, but the olloclip eliminates most of the 1-2mm gap found with the other lenses. For the ultra-compact workings of a smartphone camera, even that small gap is huge. Because this gap adds to the focal length, these lenses create a lo-fi but often unwanted vignette when using the wide angle and macro lenses. olloclip doesn’t use a case or a metal ring. The lenses are positioned much closer to the iPhone’s lens, eliminating the vignette.
The macro lens takes great, sharp, clear extreme close up shots. It has a wonderful, very narrow depth of field. You can use it up close and get some great focus effects.
The wide angle lens has good clarity and focus but some chromatic aberrations and a slight soft focus around the edges. It’s not edge-to-edge sharp, but that’s standard for this class of lenses and olloclip does slightly better in this regard than some of the other lens kits I have.
There’s a visible lens barrel distortion with the wide angle lens — a curved distortion that becomes more apparent closer the the edge of the frame. Again, this is common in this class of wide angle lens. At one point, I’d experimented for weeks trying to recreate this in apps. While not photographically accurate, it adds its own character to an image. I like it to create stunning wide angle images with an exaggerated sense of scale. The wide angle lens is my favorite of the three and the one I shoot with most often.
If the wide angle lens barrel distortion isn’t for you, there are a couple of apps available in the App Store which will minimize or eliminate them for you. Both crop the image down just a little bit.
The fisheye lens grabs about 180° of the field of view and wraps it all in some great, aggressive distortion. Again, images were a little less sharp sharper towards the edges of the frame.
A round vignette is the nature of the beast with fisheye lenses. If the vignette of your olloclip is not centered in the viewfinder, the fisheye lens is designed to be manually readjusted to center it. This is by design and it’s another great design detail of the olloclip. Instructions are online here. It took me just a few minutes of gently pushing the lens with my thumb until I got it centered. According to olloclip, it should hold the position “for some time.” I’ve only had the olloclip for a couple of days, but so far, it’s held position between uses for me.
Image quality in all three lenses is good. It’s not perfect edge-to-edge, but using the focus on your iPhone, you can get some great, sharp image in the sweet spot.
olloclip and the iPhone 5 Aluminum Case
I’m a case guy. I don’t carry a “naked” iPhone. I was worried that olloclip might cause scratches on the lens or the easy to scratch aluminum case of the iPhone 5. The new olloclip fits snugly on the thinner iPhone 5. I was fairly careful. I spent an afternoon attaching and unattaching the clip. olloclip slid on and off my 5 without any scratches on the case. Real-world use over an extended period of time may yield different results, but it looks like keeping your iPhone and your olloclip clean and dirt-free, especially the inside, should help prevent damage to your iPhone’s case and camera lens.
olloclip is a fun accessory to help open up your photos (or get in really close). These aren’t “pro” quality lenses; for that, you would have to spend a lot more money. Overall, the coated, optical quality glass is good. It’s definitely better than software solutions and because of its compact design, I feel it’s the best set of these lenses in its class. olloclip is a good, reasonably-priced, well-designed addition to your iPhone camera bag.
I loved my olloclip for iPhone 4. The new olloclip brings the exact same shooting experience to iPhone 5. I think olloclip is one of the best accessories you can buy for your iPhone 4S, 4, and now iPhone 5.
olloclip 5 is list priced at $69.99 and is shipping now. It’s available in red, white, and black for iPhone 4/4S and for iPhone 5. Makes a great gift for yourself or other iPhoneographers in your life.
UPDATE 01: Added to section on fisheye lens adjustment.
UPDATE 02: Added Macro lens sample shot
I was provided a review olloclip for this post. It didn’t effect this review at all. I’ve been using an olloclip on my old iPhone 4S for a while and loved it.