As the iPhone has become an extremely popular point and shoot camera, with the iPhone 4 becoming not just the most popular camera phone but the most popular camera overall on Flickr, hardware accessories have come about to extend the stock lens’ capabilities.
While this review is mainly for the Olloclip we will also cover it’s closest rivals so you can decide which product may be best for you.
During the course of testing over the last few months we only looked at three separate lens accessories for the iPhone 4 and 4S as all new iPhone lens adapters seem to support only these phones. The iPhone 3G/GS popularity is waning fast as the iPhone 4S with the improved 8mp sensor and better lens picks up the second most popular camera spot on Flickr.
This is the most extensive testing of any product we sell and after using it consistently for the last three months and taking hundreds of pictures with the Olloclip, I am now a converted fan and consider the Olloclip a must have camera accessory if you use the iPhone 4/4S camera on a regular basis. The tiny size of the Olloclip makes that feasible whereas other lens attachments and adapters which do similar things did not pass our “grab and go” usability testing so easily.
Often, external lenses for the iPhone require special cases with screw on or twist on lenses. What happens is you end up fumbling with a bunch of fragile lenses in your hand as you pull out the one you need from a pouch or handle.
OLLOCLIP VS iPRO LENS
The iPro Lens system is a high quality lens with case and handle bundle from German’s Schneider Optics company. We previously did a comparison of the iPro Lens vs the Olloclip here. You can consider this and addendum based on further usage.
This well built and solid system includes a plastic case for the iPhone 4/4S with a special bayonet lens mount just like on DSLR’s! Two lenses, a fisheye and a wide angle both about the same size as the Olloclip lenses come with the iPro Lens. Both lenses fit on bayonet mounts that unscrew from a handle with triple purpose as lens protector, camera handle and tripod adapter. In use we found the handle only necessary for shooting videos as it proved advantageous for slightly steadier shots and when shooting either high or low angles.
The iPro Lens has two great lenses, besting the Olloclip albeit by a narrow margin but noticeably better than iPhone combo lens bundle. However, going back to our usability needs, we had a few problems. Even after practicing several lens changing routines we found several problems if you never need to swap lenses. Unless you always keep one lens attached unscrewing lenses from the handle holder means you juggling 4 independent pieces whenever switching lenses, the lens holder piece, handle body, lens and iPhone 4. While we never dropped the lens we can see that being just a matter of time.
Although the lenses were slightly better than the Olloclip with less compression on the edges and slightly better contrast the constant fumbling with taking fragile lenses in and out of the handle enclosure made it too fussy. The handle which holds both lens won’t fit in smaller pockets. Plus, in our opinion the way the iPro Lens is designed to hold and protect the lenses on opposite ends of the screw apart handle is awkward.
TESTING VS COMBO LENS BUNDLE
The other lens system for the iPhone 4/4S is a bundle of imported lenses which we also sell that range from macro to a 12x telephoto. The range is more extensive than any other system with 5 lenses. The pack includes a wide angle, macro, fisheye and telephoto lenses in the 2x, 8x and 12x range along with a mini tripod, iPhone 4/4S case, tripod mount and a soft velvet case. Considering an iPhone case can sell for $30 or more, this is a good deal at $95 for anyone looking for a lot of options and accessories at a bargain price.
Yet, again, this system requires using it’s own custom case with threaded screw mount lenses. In use the smaller lenses are best kept separate from the 2 long telephotos for better handling. The telephoto lenses does give the iPhone a reach no other lens system offers but a tripod is a MUST when using either the 8x or 12x telephoto lenses on the iPhone. Even the slightest movement will cause the jelly shutter effects to show up in your shots. We see this system for people who want to experiment with different lenses yet are also looking for the best deal. With a case and lenses along with tripod accessories you get a complete iPhone photo kit. Of course at that price you cannot expect the lenses to be the same quality as the Olloclip or iPro Lens in quality. The lenses, especially the telephotos give a lot of edge bluriness and flare.
-small and pocketable take anywhere accessory
-combines nicely with other portable accessories
-reasonable price for quality and portability
-decent quality lens optics
-can be used for both photos or videos
-easier to use than competitive products
-need to check lenses are clean inside and out
-easy to lose lens caps, perhaps combine into 1 that slips over both lenses
-can only be used with a limited type of iphone case or decals
Click to see large images.