In-Depth Review of Olloclip 4-in-1 iPhone Lens System

Many companies have attempted to improve the iPhone’s camera through the use of external lenses. The Olloclip 4-in-1 lens system is one of the most popular smartphone lens solutions, and it comes with a wide angle lens, fisheye lens and two macro lenses. Read this review to find out what Olloclip 4-in-1 can do and whether you should spend your money on it.

IMG_4894

First Impressions

This set includes a wide angle and fisheye lens, which can be easily converted into 10X and 15X macro lenses by unscrewing the outermost part of each.

IMG_4717

The compact design means that instead of four lenses you’re carrying around just one small accessory, which will easily fit in your pocket or elsewhere. Olloclip slides onto the iPhone and comes off easily and the lenses are attached securely, but you can’t use Olloclip if your iPhone has a case. There are convenient lens caps for each of the lenses, and you also get a soft bag that you can use for storage or cleaning.

Overall the build quality is great and Olloclip 4-in-1 leaves a good first impression. Now let’s take a look at how each of the lenses performs.

Wide Angle Lens

As a passionate landscape photographer I was very excited to try out the wide angle lens. It’s not always possible to fit in everything in one photo, which is what the wide angle lens is for. Unfortunately the wide angle lens was a disappointment in terms of optical quality.

Let me show you what I mean.

IMG_4779

This incredibly exciting photo of a brick wall was taken with the iPhone without Olloclip. Pay attention to how the lines separating the bricks are essentially straight (the wall itself wasn’t perfect) and there is no optical distortion.

With the iPhone still on the tripod I took another photo of the same wall, this time using the wide angle lens. Sadly, the results speak for themselves.

IMG_4782

While the wide angle lens allows you to capture about twice as much, the photo is heavily distorted and all the straight lines are gone. Also notice that the photo gets out of focus as you move towards the corners.

Of course, you don’t take photos of brick walls in day-to-day shooting. However, these issues are also apparent in normal photography as seen in the following comparison.

IMG_4098

This photo was taken with the iPhone’s built-in lens.

IMG_4099

And here’s the same photo shot with the Olloclip wide angle lens. The trees are heavily distorted and there is practically no detail left in them.

IMG_4806

Of course, there are times when the heavy distortions can be used to your advantage, but those are the exceptions to the rule.

Fisheye Lens

The fisheye lens works exactly as you would expect.

IMG_4780

At the bottom left corner you can actually see parts of my tripod. The fisheye lens is a fun gimmick, but not something anyone would use for serious photography.

10X Macro Lens

The macro lenses are very useful for macro photography. You can’t do macro photography without a macro lens, so Olloclip 4-in-1 can open an entirely new world of creativity for you.

I used text on my Kindle to see how the macro lenses perform in challenging conditions and whether there are any serious distortions.

IMG_4757

As seen in the image above, the 10X lens delivers a fairly consistent performance throughout the photo (the lighting is my own fault). You can see that the text is distorted and loses focus towards the corners, but you don’t see that if you center your macro photography subjects.

IMG_4894

15X Macro Lens

The 15X macro lens allows you to get even closer to your subject and capture even the tiniest details. I never realized how pixelated and grainy the Kindle screen is until I took the following photo.

IMG_4764

The one downside of the extreme magnification is the increased distortion and loss of detail towards the corners, so you really want to make sure your subjects are centered when you’re using the 15X macro lens.

IMG_4939

Even thought the 15X macro lens has some serious distortions and blur towards the corners, macro photography is much more forgiving as long as your subject is centered in the frame.

Verdict

Unfortunately the wide angle lens leaves a lot to be desired and the fisheye is just a gimmick. I was generally satisfied with how the two macro lenses performed and I’m excited to do more macro photography with them in the future.

IMG_4905

I can only recommend Olloclip 4-in-1 lens system for macro photography, which leaves it in a strange position since Olloclip also has a 3-in-1 macro photography lens which is probably a better choice for serious macro photographers.

Olloclip 4-in-1 is available for iPhone 6/6 Plus for $79.99. It’s also available for iPhone 5/5s and iPhone 4/4s for $69.99.

  • fayemcg .

    I agree with your review. I received the 3-in-one lens system for Christmas and never use the wide angle or fisheye lenses. I have had limited success with the macro lens. I wish now that I had gotten the 3-in-one macro lens with more options for macro photography. Keeping the phone steady is an issue for me. One day I may have to invest in a tripod. Thanks for your review.

    • I struggle with that too. The trick is to lock focus (by tapping and holding on the screen) and then take many photos and adjust the distance until you get it just right.

    • fayemcg .

      Thanks for the tip. I’ll keep experimenting!

  • Chris Prakoso

    The distortion (barrel distortion to be exact) and the ‘out-of-focus edges’ (aberration) are 2 artefacts commonly found in these types of lenses, i.e. Wide-Angle and Fish-Eye. Even in the high-end lenses they exhibit the same property. Considering that Olloclip lenses are only a fraction of the size compare to its massive 35mm lens, and it cost about 1/10, it give you quite a good quality. You should try other brands of Fisheye/Wide-angle, many of them are terrible. You should also try the Olloclip app, with which you can ‘correct’ the distortion.

    I’m also not sure what you mean by Fish-Eye is just a ‘gimmick’, I think it’s a powerful Photographic Genre. Besides how else can you get almost 180 degress scene into one image without this lens or doing Panoramic?

    • Hi Chris,

      I know that distortion is inevitable in fisheye. There are some fun things you can do with it, but I really don’t see the potential to use it for anything serious.

      However, wide angle is a different story. Sure, I could understand some distortion but what olloclip has is way too much in my opinion. Even worse, everything in the corners is so blurred out that I don’t know how I would use these photos.

      I don’t know how good Moment lenses will be, but from what I’ve seen there’s essentially no distortion for the wide angle lens.

    • Chris Prakoso

      Fair enough, I guess everybody has their own photographic style they like.
      And we will see about the Moment Lens.

    • I bought olloclip just to make some fun photos and distortion is nothing special if you just want to play around or post a nice photo to instagram, I don’t think iphone photos are something serious, so why should olloclip be.
      Of course sometimes you can get something cool out of all that, but it’s more like a creative experimentation and sketches for ideas.

    • Žēl, ka netver iPhone bildes nopietni 🙂

    • Konceptuālajai mākslai nav obligāta augsta kvalitāte, bet ja runājam par optiku, tātad runājam par augstas kvalitātes bildes iegūšanu, ko citi aparāti spēj daudz labāk. Tā jau nenoliedzu, ka var iegūt labus foto arī ar iphone.. un vienmēr gribas labāk un labāk.

    • I agree with Chris, you should post something on the Olloclip app along with your critical review. Like I did on my blog post, because a lot of people don’t know about the Olloclip app. If you’re teaching people you should be on top it. I would say The Olloclip lenses are a slight above prosumer quality mobile lenses. When you have a collection of mobiles like what I have pictured below, then you can make a fair assessment. You should contact my friend Vadym (from Beastgrip). Then he can educate you on why mobile lenses won’t give you the quality of a DSLR lens. If you’re going to talk about mobile photography then stick to mobile photography and mobile gear.

  • JamesDevlin

    I agree and use my 3-in-1 original mostly for macro now. I’m just disapointed that Olloclip always pushes out another lens after I get one. I’ve got the original and the tele. The 4-in-1 came out right after I got the 3-in-1. I wish there was some notice so I could’ve held out and gotten the newer one. But had I gotten the 4-in-1, I still would’ve wanted the 3-in-1 macro.

    • That’s the nature of technology, there’s always something new and incrementally better coming out… The next big news will be Moment lenses, I’m really curious to see if they’re as good as advertised.

    • JamesDevlin

      I’ll wait and see what happens with Moment. I know a mobile lens is much cheaper than a lens for a DSLR, but when I buy my DSLR lens for comparison, I’m pretty comfortable in the knowledge that it wont be replaced by technology in a calendar year.

    • That’s good point. Let’s see what Moment is like!

  • joebspi

    Excellent review. I was considering an olloclip for my iPhone5, but at least now I know that it would only be good for macro and fisheye shots. The wide angle certainly looks like a wasted effort

  • shuttermama

    I was just checking out some reviews on the ollo clip before I purchase one. I really wasn’t looking for quality reviews but more likely reviews or comments on the ease and fun when using the lens. I’m always in awe of the many great iPhone photos out there that sometimes I think “is it iPhone and apps or DSLR and Lightroom” images? Didn’t matter to me after a while, it’s the story and the emotion the image evokes that I think is important. And of course, composition. So I think an Ollo clip would add fun and creatiity to any photography.

    • Dolly Ward Paice

      I have had 2 of these, one for my 4S and now my 6. I LOVE my olliclip. I took some very beautiful shots on a trip to DC with mine along with my DSLR. Nothing this small can compare to bigger lenses of course, however I truly feel I did not waste my money. It’s fun to use!

  • monica

    I just purchases the olloclip for the iPhone6. When using the macro lens everything is blurry. If I get very close to subject it does look focused but the area around is blurry. I am trying to take a picture of an orchid flower and the only thing focused is the center of the flower not the whole flower. Is this the way the lens works or is there something wrong with the lens. If normal it is useless for my purpose.

  • adrian

    It also blocks the flash. Ill be returnung mine at the store later.

  • I’ve been an ardent customer of Ölloclip lenses but I just saw the Art of Mob’s blog and your blog was further confirmation. The difference in quality between Ölloclip and Moment is huge.

  • MurraySuid

    Is there any way to adapt the iPhone 5 olloclip 4-in-1 for use with an iPhone 6?

  • Carmella

    I’m just really looking for something to inprove the resolution of my photos as I do foodtography on my instagram. Will this be helpful take better quality photos?

  • Eric Muzvidziwa

    the distance between the camera and the flash light is so tiny,wont that shield the flashlight??????? (so concerned)

    • Yes it does cover the flash so you can’t shoot with the iPhone’s built in flash while using external lenses. But in a lot of cases the direct light of a camera’s built-in flash ruins photos, so you’re better off using an off camera flash/constant light to illuminate the scene, such as Nova flash: http://iphonephotographyschool.com/nova-flash/

  • RobOnMV

    I use the Olloclip for shooting home interiors a lot(Real Estate), and found the wide angle lens invaluable. However, while the Ollclip app can reduce the bending inherent in most wide angle lenses, I find that in correcting the bend you sacrifice some of the extra “real estate” you got from using the lens in the first place. Frustrating, however, there’s definitely a net gain over not using one at all.

  • CiaoPaparazzi

    Fisheyes are gimmicks. That must be why Canon just came out with an L Fisheye zoom for $1200 and Nikon has both FX and DX fisheyes in their lineup.

  • Sierranat927

    Hello, I see on Amazon there are knock off clips for the iphone for under 10$. Is the extra 60$ worth it? Is it that much better than the knock offs you think? My friend has a knock off and it seems to work fine, but I didn’t know if there was a huge difference because I’ve never seen someone use the ollo clip

    • Je-ann

      With lenses you really get what you pay for. It is best to stick with Olloclip for macro photography.