Olloclip, a Great iPhone 3 Lens Photo Solution for People On the Go

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Exhibiting at South by Southwest (SXSW) recently was a company called olloclip, which I couldn’t help but be immediately intrigued by. It seemed like a perfect compliment to my iPhone since I’m constantly taking photos on it when I travel even if my Canon 7D is hanging on my shoulder and easy to access for a quick and dirty shot. Sometimes it’s a lighting issue, sometime there’s just not enough time and sometimes I can’t be bothered since there are too many other things to take in. 

While their lens for the iPhone is a 3 way ‘clip on’ lens, which includes the Fisheye, Wide-Angle and Macro Lens, it’s obviously not a replacement for your trusty SLR. That said, for travelers who want to take quick shots at times when pulling out such a conspicuous camera won’t work, this is a great alternative for getting unique shots on the fly. Available for the iPhone 4, 4S and 5, I decided I had to try using it right away.

What was so simple about using it was it’s quick and easy pop it onto the top of your iPhone and when you’re done, pop it in your purse, your pocket, your travel bag, fanny pack or whatever works for you.

Here’s what I absolutely loved about it:

1. It’s small and light

2. There’s no learning curve, meaning it’s incredibly easy to use – pop it on and you’re ready to go.

3. The Fisheye lens in particular – it allows you to get creative shots on the road, FAST.

4. The Macro lens improved nearly every shot I took of food on the iPhone alone.

5. It’s a boat load of fun.

Here’s what didn’t work for me:

1. It fell off a number of times while I was using it. It stays fairly secure when you’re using it for its purpose, which is simply to shoot, but most of us aren’t going to have the patience to take off, put back on, take off again, etc. so it would be nice if they found a way to make it more secure.

2. Per above, it only fits your iPhone without a case. Who doesn’t have an iPhone case? Meaning anyone who is creative and likes to personalize things (translation = most photographers), WILL have an iPhone case. I asked them about this and they told me that they’re coming out with a specific olloclip case for an iPhone which allows you to use their lens as well. Here’s the thing marketing folks: there’s a REASON people love to choose their OWN CASING – we like to choose, we like to customize, we want our own colors, our own styles, not rubbery ugly looking black, bright red and blue fixtures that look like they’re designed for 15 year old boys. I’m serious. What’s wrong with having an olloclip version that is slightly adjustable in the way it affixes to your iPhone so that you can adjust by a centimeter or two and tighten so a) you have more leverage and b) there’s flexibility as to what case you use (I would NEVER use the geeky looking case they showed me. That aside, I think there WILL be geeks, early adopters and young men (and boys) won’t really care about aesthetics and design at all and simply try it for its usefulness. Fair enough, but my vote is on the creative types who will care – they’ll be more viral. And for what it’s worth, it shuts out an entirely different market, the snobby creative types who don’t have the patience to pop off the case they love so much every time they want to pop this extension on.

3. When I adjusted the lens slightly between the wide angle and macro lens, the ridge around the lens fell off quickly. This happened about a dozen times before I decided never to use the wide angle option (the least interesting one for iPhone use anyway) and kept as far to the side that suggested it was operating in macro lens mode as possible without falling off. It took a little adjusting.

While I didn’t see much use for wide angle since when I decided to go there, I used my SLR and wanted to take more serious, well calculated shots, I did play around for a week with the fish eye and macro capabilities, largely the former. Here are some of my results, which I used in combination with Camera+ for the iPhone 5.

A man in a banana suit roaming the streets of Austin:

String beans shot with the Macro Lens.

 The girls with the hoola hoops:

Wearing a couple of hats at SXSW, I was running around with HAPIfork and decided to place it on top of the statue in the Driskill Hotel – how cool is this shot? The fisheye lens makes the shot eerie, surreal and historical all at the same time.

A shot of sushi at the Hilton Hotel’s restaurant taken with the Macro lens. It is slightly grainy but the lighting in the place was atrocious.

Bottom line, if you love photography and you travel a lot, this is an easy and not too expensive option to nab some fun and creative shots without a lot of work or effort and better, avoid having to pull out your SLR.

The Macro lens applies roughly a 10X multiplier and allows you to focus the iPhone within 12-15mm of the subject. The Macro lens is cleverly concealed within the olloclip and can be accessed by unscrewing the Wide-Angle lens that is normally attached to it.

The Fisheye lens captures approximately a 180 Degree field-of-view and produces some striking images while the the Wide-Angle lens is great for when you need that extra field of view, approximately double that of the normal iPhone.

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