I love the iPhone, both as a smart phone and as a pocket camera, but all too often I find myself cursing the camera’s narrow field of view.
It’s especially troubling when you’re in a tight space and you just can’t get far enough away to frame your subject, or when you have a vast subject that really deserves a wide angle lens. At times like this, you really miss your DSLR.
Well, a clever company named Olloclip has just given us one more reason to leave the heavy DSLR at home, with their Olloclip 3-in-1 Lens for the iPhone 4 and 4S.
This lightweight lens kit gives you a wide-angle, a fish-eye, and a macro lens, all in one tiny package that slips onto your iPhone in seconds to literally expand your photographic horizons.
Compare the photos below taken with the iPhone’s standard lens and with the Ollo wide and fisheye. You’ll see that it really does deliver wide angles of view, and its optical quality is excellent for something so lightweight and reasonably priced (okay, $70 is not exactly cheap, but when was the last time you bought three—count ‘em three!—lenses for under a hundred bucks?).
Of course, the Olloclip is not without its flaws.
1. The biggest annoyance is that it covers the iPhone’s flash, so you won’t be doing any night shooting with it (but you can get some interesting lens flares if you forget and leave the flash turned on).
2. The second nuisance is that you have to remove the case from your iPhone before you clip it on. Even a transparent screen protector will interfere, because the Olloclip slides on with a tight friction fit. So your iPhone must be naked to use it.
3. The wide-angle lens creates quite a bit of barrel distortion (more than a typical wide angle on a DSLR). See the series of three photos above, and note the warping of straight lines in the wide-angle view. Of course, you can remove most of that in post-production with Lightroom (learn how in my Lightroom course) or other software, but objects near the edge of the frame are still a bit fuzzy even after un-warping it.
4. Finally, it can be tricky to lock focus with the macro lens, which requires getting VERY close to your subject (less than an inch). If your subject is moving or blowing in the wind, it will often drift out of focus before you press the shutter button. But when you get the focal distance right, the results are amazing.
In fact, it’s the macro images that impressed me most about this lens kit. The wide and fisheye sometimes feel more like fun gimmicks, but the macro lens is like carrying a microscope in your pocket!
The clever design of the Olloclip conceals the macro lens behind the wide-angle, to keep things compact. Just unscrew the wide, and now you have a macro.
The Olloclip set comes with a microfiber lens bag that doubles as a lens cleaner. Basically, everything about this little kit does double duty to pack a ton of functionality into a tiny package.
In the end, despite its drawbacks, I love this little lens kit. It’s the biggest photographic bang-for-the-buck that I’ve purchased in a long time.
As always, if you buy from my Amazon links you support my site and help me product more free tutorials. (Or at the very least least you buy me a beer.)