I first saw Olloclip’s new iPhone case back at CES this year in its pre-production form and was pretty pumped at the concept. Now that I’ve been using the Olloclip iPhone 6 case (they call it the “Ollocase”) along with the new Active Lens.
The problem with many of the iPhone lens solutions is that they don’t work cases. Or, if the lens comes as part of a case or cage, it is just too bulky. That’s where the Olloclip case sets itself apart.
The previous version for the iPhone 5s had this weird, flippy thing that folded up and out of the way in order to mount your lens on it. The new case for the iPhone 6 does away with this and has a small cutout that accommodates the Olloclip lenses for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
The lenses work with or without the Ollocase but having a permanent case on my iPhone makes more sense to me. Also, the case isn’t ridiculously expensive. At $29.99 retail, it falls in line with other name-brand iPhone cases.
It also works quick well. I’m a frequent phone dropper and the rubber bumpers on the Ollocase have saved my iPhone plenty of times now.
Olloclip Active Lens Features & Performance
The Olloclip Active Lens provides a wide angle fisheye lens and a 2x telephoto option. And while one is mounted to cover the main camera, the other provides coverage for the front-facing camera. Super-wide selfies are now available on the iPhone.
Here’s a look at the different field of view you get with each lens.
Even at these lower resolutions, you can probably tell that the telephoto lens is pretty soft in the corners. This seems to be pretty common for these kinds of detachable iPhone lenses.
Additional optical issues are the barrel distortion for wide angle lens, which Olloclip actually refers to as an “action camera” point of view in its product description. I actually don’t mind this for the wide angle you get an the ease at which it is available.
The telephoto lens has noticeable pincushion distortion and, of course, the soft corners mentioned above. Both lenses are actually pretty decent in the center of the image and the wide angle holds up okay in the corners. See the 100% zoomed comparisons below for more detailed examples.
And while I’m probably over-pixel-peeping here for a camera phone, let’s step back and consider what’s going to happen to those iPhone photos after you take them. Most will remain in your camera roll forever but the ones you do share will mostly be low resolution images on Instagram or Facebook and many of those will include some kind of filter or other processing for an overall effect.
In most cases, the optical degradation that I’ve highlighted here will be a non-issue for the way we use cameras on our iPhones. All in all, image quality is about what you would expect from a detachable lens for your phone that you carry in your pocket.
That begs the question though… Will you carry the Olloclip Active Lens in your pocket?
I actually found this lens more useful than any other I have tried for a smartphone. I pick it up with my keys, wallet, phone and chapstick in the morning and carry it along with me.
It’s not so large that it is too annoying to carry and Olloclip includes a convenient pendant that the lens snaps into for storage and even has a key ring if you want to use that. It also comes with lens caps that, so far, have stayed on well enough that I don’t have to worry about the lenses getting scratched from my keys.
The crucial difference for me, however, is the Ollocase. It is slim and sleek. To most people, it looks just like a normal iPhone case. You don’t have to do anything special to it in order to get the lens attached. Just slide it on and shoot.
If you use your iPhone to capture a lot of photos or if you find streaks of creativity in your iPhoneography, then the Active Lens and Ollocase definitely deserve a closer look. It’s the best everyday lens and case combo for the iPhone yet.