Photos by iPhones and iPods are already good, but the Olloclip 3-in-one lens improves, writes Hugh John
The iPhone 5 and 4S, and iPod Touch feature cameras with resolution of up to 8 megapixels. They may not be up there with the latest specifications for smartphone cameras – Samsung’s Galaxy S4, for example, flaunts 13 megapixels – but, nonetheless, they take stunning pictures.
Now, for a relatively small outlay, it’s possible to add macro, wide-angle and fish-eye lens capability to these devices and widen the photo opportunities. Interested?
The Olloclip is a well-designed and engineered accessory that brings another dimension to phone photography. The effects are created in the 'traditional' way; that is, through lenses rather than in post-production software. And while there are many creative apps for enhancing phone images, learning how different lenses affect photographic outcome is a very useful skill for aspiring photographers (photos by Filip Michalik, lensmeister).
Constructed from aluminium and “precision ground coated glass optics”, the Olloclip, 33mm (1.37ins) tall by 31mm (1.22ins) across the widest section and weighing just 20 grams (0.7 of an ounce) sits snugly over the iPhone lens, giving users three useful additions to the standard lens. It simply clips over the corner of an iPhone, giving a firm fit over the phone's camera lens. The iPod version comes with a little rubber sleeve to ensure a tight fit, otherwise it is exactly the same.
Use this for panoramic views. With its hemispherical shape capable of capturing a 180-degree field of view, this lens has a very distinctive effect and, when used injudiciously can cause “fish eye fatigue’, also known as ‘extreme novelty effect’! That said, landscapes or facial close-ups photographed with this lens have a unique dimension and are a great way of playing with perspective and introducing concepts such as image distortion to young students.
Uncovered by unscrewing the wide-angle lens above it, the Macro lens (see photo, top) magnifies images up to ten times and can focus within 12 to 15mm of the object being photographed. Designed for extreme close-ups, this lens requires the most patience and finesse but the effects can be... well, spectacular wouldn’t be too strong a word. Flowers, wild life, paint textures all appear in a different way when shot with this lens.
Offering almost twice the field of view of the regular iPhone lens (in 35mm SLR terms an 18mm lens as opposed to a 32mm lens), the Olloclip wide-angle lens gives users more of everything; landscape, group portraits, buildings. Like any wide-angle lens it’s especially useful for those shots where moving away from the object just isn’t an option, and it also works well for dramatic landscape shots as the wider lens can capture more light.
So there you have it: three extra lenses that give photography on an iPhone or iPod Touch considerably more creative oomph, and which are simple to install or remove. There are a few minus points, but none of them could be filed under "deal breaker". The Olloclip does not function with the forward-facing (sometimes, for obvious reasons, known as the ‘me’) camera so self-portraiture is, at best, a rather hit and miss option. Camera flash cannot be used because the device impedes the flash unit. Finally, because of the small tolerances between iDevice and the Olloclip any case must be removed and extreme care should be taken not to scrunch up protective strips. (There is a solution to this problem: the Olloclip case – see videos below – which also provides a tripod mount and 'cold shoe' for a light, but it does add to the overall cost.)
The multi-lens unit, protected by two rubber lens caps, comes with a useful drawstring microfibre pouch which doubles as a handy lens cleaner. This is an extremely well made and useful tool which brings new functionality and options for creativity to iPhones and iPods. Well worth investigating.
Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for Purpose 4
Ease of Use 4
Value for money 4
Three-in-one lens attachment for cameras on iPhone 4, iPhone 5 and iPod Touch, around £65 to £70 depending on which version.
Available from Amazon.co.uk