Review: Olloclip Core Lens Set for iPhone 7/7 Plus
We've reviewed a number of Olloclip's offerings in the past, and the company is back with a number of new lens sets for iPhone 7/7 Plus. Core Lens Set ($100) includes three lenses — fisheye, macro 15x, and super-wide — and attachments to secure the lenses to the back of an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, with its CONNECT interchangeable lens system. The system allows lenses to be swapped in and out, and used on both the front and rear cameras of either iPhone. Olloclip claims Core's lenses have improved optics due to their new multi-element coated glass. In addition to the lenses and lens system, Core Lens Set also comes with two wearable pendant stands, lens covers, and a carabiner clip.
With every new iPhone design, Olloclip basically has no choice but to redesign its lens sets to fit the new phone(s). To the company’s credit, they always do a good job in creating a secure fit, and Core Lens Set for iPhone 7/7 Plus is no different. The attachment clips directly onto an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. Each side can house one of the lenses — super-wide or fisheye/macro 15x — or a backing can be inserted, if you only want to use/carry one lens at a time. These lenses can be popped in and out of the attachment with ease, using a small sliding mechanism which is attached near the lens. This mechanism also makes it possible for iPhone 7 Plus users to position the Olloclip lens over the phone’s telephoto lens. The pendant that can be used to carry the lenses doubles as a stand, which is a very nice touch.
The usual downside is that Olloclip’s lenses won’t fit on most cased iPhones, so you’ll need to remove your case before using Core Lens Set. (Olloclip will be releasing its Ollo Case for both iPhones — apparently sometime this month — and those cases will allow you to slip the lens set directly onto the iPhone.) Also unfortunate is that the size of the clips prevents users from accessing the HDR, Live Photos, and Timer buttons while taking photos from the iPhone’s Camera app. To some, this may not be that big of a deal, but it’s not unreasonable to expect all Camera features at hand when using a photography accessory.
The lenses found in Core Lens Set are pretty much what we’ve come to expect, which is to say, effective with some expected caveats. Below is a shot from the macro 15x lens. It does the trick for extreme close-up shots, with some noticeable distortion. Of course, where you center your shots will determine where the distortion will be seen.
Below is one picture taken with the Olloclip super-wide lens, followed by a picture taken with the regular iPhone 7 Plus wide-angle lens. The super-wide lens gives users a larger field of vision that can be useful for landscape shots.
The fisheye lens is self-explanatory. It won’t be used for serious photography, but it’s a fun effect to have around from time to time.
Olloclip is in a bit of a strange place right now, through no real fault of their own. Though the company has been able to successfully adapt its lenses to Apple’s newest iPhones, the iPhone cameras keep getting better and offering users more. The two best camera features on the iPhone 7 Plus — using the dual-lens system for optical zoom and iOS 10.1’s Portrait mode — aren’t even compatible with Core Lens Kit. (Core Lens Kit is only able to access the iPhone 7 Plus’ telephoto lens using a compatible third-party app, as the iOS Camera app doesn’t allow for selective use of the telephoto lens.)
Because of the photographic improvements on the iPhones themselves, the benefits of Core Lens Kit’s lenses may not seem as obvious — or cool — as they did in the past, especially for iPhone 7 Plus users. Those who like to experiment with their iPhone photography and try different effects will still see appeal in these lenses — especially iPhone photographers looking for a way to do macro shots. But otherwise, the $100 Core Lens Kit feels more niche than ever.