Olloclip has become one of the most recognizable names when it comes to add-on smartphone lenses, having been producing small clip-on lenses for iPhone users for years, going back at least to the iPhone 4 era. The company has iterated its lenses with each new model of iPhone that comes out, both tweaking its mounting solutions for the newer models, as well as improving its lens technology, and now, as part of a collaboration with Incase, Olloclip is bundling five of its best lenses in a new, limited-edition “Filmer’s Kit” for mobile videography and photography.
In terms of the lenses and mounts, Olloclip’s Filmer’s Kit doesn’t actually introduce anything new; rather it’s the bundling of everything in a single package at a pretty reasonable price that makes the Filmer’s Kit stand out. What you’re actually getting here is Olloclip’s Core Lens Set, which includes the fisheye, macro 15x, and super-wide lenses, plus the company’s Active Lens Set of the telephoto and ultra-wide lenses, and Pivot grip. There’s also a GoPro mount adapter, wrist strap, and carabiner included. All of this is nicely packaged in a custom case made from a compression molded shell and die-cut EVA foam padding, which of course is where the partnership with Incase comes into play.
We reviewed Olloclip’s Core Lens Set in late 2016, and the lenses and mounts included here are identical — the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus naturally didn’t necessitate a redesign from the iPhone 7 versions. We last looked at Olloclip’s Active Lens Set back in early 2015 for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus; the new kit includes the same basic lenses in terms of focal length and field of view, but of course have the improved optics that we noted in our review of the Core Lens set.
So there’s otherwise not much new to say about the lenses — although it’s nice to have all five options in a single kit, the super-wide and ultra-wide may seem a bit redundant, as they provide a fairly similar field of view — 120 degrees for the super-wide angle and 155 degrees for the ultra-wide angle — but there’s enough extra in the ultra-wide’s field of view to make a difference, albeit at the cost of the usual distortion you’d expect.
In terms of the lenses, the new kit has the same pros and cons as the Core Lens Set — Olloclip’s “Connect” mounting system is still one of the easiest ways we’ve seen to put lenses onto an iPhone, except that you’ll need to take the case off your iPhone to use it, and it still covers up some of your camera controls — specifically the live photo, timer and filter buttons, so you’ll need to pop it off to access these functions. The Connect mount allows for lenses on each side, however, so you can use one Olloclip lens for selfies and another for your main camera, and easily flip it 180 degrees to switch them around. Two inserts are also included in the kit in the event that you only want to use a lens on one side of the mount. The same pendant holder is also used here so you can carry the lenses around more easily apart from the case, and it doubles as a stand.
It’s worth mentioning as well that while Olloclip has been doing a good job of improving the optics, and the company’s latest lenses are a remarkable improvement over prior versions, you’ll still see some vignetting and distortion when using them. Ultimately, however, this is a case of getting what your’e paying for — the only really “great” lens we’ve seen for the iPhone, the ZEISS-equipped ExoLens Pro, will run you the same price for a pretty bulky single lens as you’re paying here for Olloclip’s entire five-lens-plus Filmer’s Kit.
Like most external lens systems, the Connect mount blocks the second camera on the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus, however Olloclip thoughtfully designed the system to allow you to position any of the lenses to sit over the iPhone Plus telephoto lens instead, but you’ll need to use an appropriate third-party camera app to take advantage of this, since the stock iOS camera app doesn’t let you manually choose which of the dual lenses to shoot through.
The Pivot adds an extra bonus here that goes beyond the lenses, providing a grip and mount for the serious iPhone photography enthusiast. The universal clamp will accommodate all iPhone models, and this one is actually case-compatible — if you’re using it without the lenses, of course. The Pivot is well designed and comfortable in the hand, and can rotate 225 degrees so that you can position your iPhone in just about any angle without worrying about dropping it. The smartphone mount also includes a cold-shoe mount — great for a video light or external mic — and attaches with a standard 1/4-20 thread mount so you can remove it and use the Pivot with just about any other camera. Olloclip has even included a GoPro mount in the package for more versatility.
As we noted last time, Olloclip’s lenses continue to be in an odd space due to Apple’s continuing camera improvements, and we think they’re still getting more niche as Apple continues to add features like Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting that are rendered ineffective without the full dual-lens system available to capture images. That said, however, we’re impressed with what Olloclip has done here in bundling all of this together in a single kit — as unusual as it may seem, the Filmer’s Kit actually does a good job of improving Olloclip’s focus on the type of user these lenses are ideally targeted at — the serious iPhone photography and videography enthusiast who needs a versatile set of lenses on hand — and best of all, Olloclip bundles all of this together in a single convenient package at a pretty remarkable price.
Company and Price
Model: Filmer’s Kit
Compatibility: iPhone 7 / 7 Plus, iPhone 8 / 8 Plus