I am not a photographer, so the idea of lugging around a big fat camera with two, or more, lenses is not to my taste. I am not into tweaking the camera with the right settings for each shot either. I love carrying as little as possible on me, and I just hate spending too much time working on capturing a magical moment instead of enjoying it.
When I go on a vacation, my smartphone is my travel companion and my memory-storing apparatus. And more often than not, when I return back home I find most of my photos beautiful, but boring. They lack the adventurous spirit I was feeling or the coolness of the place I was visiting. My camera setup needed to level up.
But being as stubborn as I am, I wanted an easier solution. One Thursday night I was watching the TV show Elementary, where the modern day Sherlock Holmes solves crimes in New York. He uses a zooming lens attachment on his iPhone to capture fingerprints or other small details. I can smell a product placement from a mile but at this moment, it all clicked into place. I needed to get some lens attachments for my iPhone.
A quick Google search led me to the Olloclip’s website, and two weeks later the Olloclip 4-in-1 Photo Lens Kit for iPhone 6/6 Plus/6s/6s Plus was in my hands. I realize Olloclip lenses have been around for a while, and they’ve already made a name for themselves, but it’s only now that this product category got my attention, so I was new to the entire thing.
Olloclip offers a variety of lenses – Active with Ultra-Wide Angle + Telephoto 2x, Telephoto + CPL Lens, Telephoto + Wide-Angle + Macro 10x, Macro 3-in-1 with Macro 7x + Macro 14x + Macro 21x, and the kit I found to be most practical – the 4-in-1 Lens with Macro 10x + Fisheye + Wide-Angle + Macro 15x.
The retail box holds the lenses; the lens caps; three holders painted in black, green, and blue; and a lanyard. There is also a soft pouch to store the lenses when not using them.
I asked Olloclip for an additional CPL lens (essentially a polarizer filter). It’s supposed to be mounted on either the Fisheye or the Wide-Angle lens, and that’s the third thingy you will notice in the pictures below.
The Olloclip 4-in-1 retail box The kit and the Ollocase A closer look The three lenses
The Olloclip kit fits easily on the iPhone. You need to use either some of the adapters (the little black strip on the pictures) to clip the lens onto a naked iPhone or the Olloclip case specifically designed to help you slide the lens without any adapter.
The Olloclip case is sturdy, and indeed, it makes putting the lens a bit easier though I got used to sliding them on my case-free iPhone 6s Plus rather quickly. But I will most surely use the case on a vacation, as it will provide my phone with additional protection.
The lens works with both the rear camera and the front selfie snapper though you have to move them a notch when switching from the rear to the front camera and vice versa.
The Olloclip 4-in-1 kit mounted onto an iPhone 6s Plus with and without the Ollocase
Now, let’s take a closer look at that 4-in-1 kit. If you expected four different lenses, you’d be wrong. The clip itself hold the Macro 10x lens on one of the sides, and the Macro 15x lens on the other. The Wide-Angle lens mounts on the 10x while the Fisheye goes on top of the Macro 15x.
Long story short, if you want to use the Fisheye or the Wide-Angle, you just snap the clip on the respective side. If you want macro mode, just unscrew the big lens from the clip, and you have it. I have to admit it sounded a bit of a hassle at first, but I got used to the combo in a single day.
And before I continue with the camera samples, I just want to mention a small hiccup you should know about. If you use the Auto Brightness option on the iPhone, mounting the Olloclip kit will cover the ambient-light sensor, and the phone will think it’s dark and will lower the screen brightness to the minimum. It’s a good idea to turn the Auto off before mounting the lens.
So, the Fisheye lenses have been a favorite for many social networks fans, and there is a good reason for that. The Fisheye lens has one of the widest FoV (field of view), and it can capture most of your surroundings in just one shot.
The black corners don’t always look good, but that’s why some prefer to crop the image at 16:9 ratio post shooting.
Snapping photos with the Fisheye lens outs lovely pictures with amazingly wide FoV. The samples keep most of the detail at the center while things get blurry around the corners. Sure, the pixel peepers won’t be satisfied with the full-res images, but I found those to be great when you downscale them at 1080p – more than enough for Facebook or Instagram – the places where most of these photos will end up anyway.
Clean photo Fisheye photo Clean photo Fisheye photo
And here are a few more Fisheye shots I took.
The Wide-Angle lens won’t entirely replace your panorama mode, but they would undoubtedly help capture quite a wide shot with just one tap, without risking skewed people or cars by the stitching process in a panorama shot. True, the details also get a bit soft around the corners, but I didn’t expect ground-breaking images anyway.
There is a residual fisheye effect present, but I found this likable as it makes the photos, well, cooler.
Normal photo Fisheye photo Wide-Angle photo
And here is another scene.
I’ve played quite a bit with the macro lenses and the results are quite promising even at maximum resolution. The bokeh effect turned out better than I expected, and while there is some fringing, the shots came out with a large amount of detail, high contrast, and lively colors.
As I said, the macro shots can do for nice wallpapers, especially when downscaled.
Downscaled macro shots
Finally, if you opt for the Circular Polarizing Lens (CPL), you can put those on the Fisheye lens or the Wide-Angle module. This attachment could add additional detail in the clouds on partly overcast days and would increase the overall contrast of the picture. Or you can get rid of the reflections on glass buildings or water.
Playing with the CPL
As a conclusion, I think the Olloclip 4-in-1 kit – or another lens attachment kit – can do an excellent job in spicing up your mobile photography. While it may lower the photo quality, today people rarely, if ever, look at images in maximum resolution. The macro lens can open your creative side, which you never knew you had while the wide-angle and the fisheye lenses will help you capture very wide scenes with a single shot.
None of those things will replace a thousand dollar camera with the right lens, but the Olloclip is alike a cheat to spare that kind of money to users like me. If you love carrying as little as possible, and yet want to expand your smartphone photography options, a lens attachment kit looks like the perfect choice.
With the Olloclip 4-in-1 lens, you can capture the whole beach, all the people swimming in the sea, the entire sky filled with funny clouds, the tiniest grains of sand, to discover even the smallest pieces of polished glass or details on sea shells you’ve never seen before. All of these made possible by just taking your iPhone and the Olloclip to the beach. I am sure you can imagine the possibilities already. Don’t forget you can shoot videos with those lenses too – slow-mo, time-lapse or even hyperlapses maybe. Yes, I would grab a lens attachment kit in a heartbeat.