Olloclip has become the go-to product for the photography enthusiast who wants to do a bit more with their iPhone than the built-in lenses allow, producing a whole range of lens options over the years, combined with a simple system for connecting them to your iPhone. While Olloclip has done a great job of balancing price, performance, and size with its Essential Lenses collection, some photographers demand more than what Olloclip’s standard lenses can deliver, and it appears that the company has acknowledged this with a new lineup of Pro Lenses that it announced earlier this year. So far, Olloclip is offering a Super-Wide Pro Lens and a Telephoto Pro Lens, each priced at $100 by themselves, or $120 if you need a mounting clip to go with them.
The first thing you’ll notice about Olloclip’s new Pro lenses is that they’re significantly larger than anything that the company has put out before. Of course, as any photographer knows, you can’t change the laws of physics when it comes to light and magnification, so it’s necessary for the lenses to get a bit bigger if they’re going to do the professional-grade job that Olloclip is promising. With the size also comes a bit more heft — not only is there better quality glass here, of course, but the lens is also surrounded by a solid metal housing, bringing the weight of the Telephoto Pro Lens to 2.5 ounces and the Super Wide Pro Lens to 1.5 ounces. While that may not seem like much, the difference between the new Pro lenses and Olloclip’s other lenses is noiceable, especially when you’re hanging it off the edge of your iPhone. Still, Olloclip has done a pretty good job here, considering the last pro wide-angle lens we looked at was a behemoth at more than twice the weight and size.
As we’d expect, Olloclip’s new Pro lenses attach using the same standardized “Connect X” mounting system that the company has popularized with their prior lenses, although Olloclip is also offering versions compatible with their iPhone 7/8 series clips. This creates a slightly confusing set of options, but as far as we’re concerned, “Connect X” is Olloclip’s way forward, so unless you’ve already invested heavily in the Olloclip ecosystem for your older iPhone, you’re likely better off getting Olloclip’s Multi-Device Clip with the Connect X versions of the lenses.
In fact, as an added bonus, the Multi-Device Clip provides better case compatibility, although you’ll still want to remove thicker cases to avoid vignetting that will naturally occur due to the distance between the built-in lens and the Olloclip attachment. This is where the iPhone camera bump is actually helpful, however, as it allows the Olloclip lenses to sit flush with the iPhone camera lens, even when the iPhone is in a case; as a rule of thumb, Olloclip’s lenses will work fine as long as the case doesn’t protrude much beyond the camera bump. The ability to use Olloclip’s lenses while the iPhone is in a case is a huge bonus that we can’t emphasize enough, since the whole point of iPhone photography is to be able to capture photos with a minimum of fuss.
In terms of actual photographic performance, Olloclip’s new Pro lenses perform remarkably well. The Super-Wide Pro Lens provides the same 120-degree field of view as Olloclip’s Essential version, but is able to gather more light and avoid the distortion and chromatic aberration that was inevitable with the smaller lens. On close analysis, it’s still not up to the same quality as the ExoLens Pro, but that one uses Zeiss glass, comes in at twice the price, and is massive. This is one of the best examples we’ve seen of diminishing returns — Olloclip’s Super-Wide Pro is in the sweet spot in terms of providing quality that’s a noticeable improvement over lower-end lenses, but far more than sufficient for just about anybody who will be capturing photos on an iPhone; if you’re looking for better quality than this, chances are you’ll be using a DSLR anyway.
Olloclip’s Telephoto Pro Lens follows a similar path, providing the same 2X magnification as its Essential counterpart, but again with better light capture — something that’s even more noticeable on a telephoto lens, where apertures are traditionally tighter — and provides a flat depth of field. While you won’t have a lot of room for creativity here, it does provide for a better optical zoom experience when used with the standard iPhone lens. However, while you can technically combine it with the 2X lens on the iPhone 7/8/X/XS models, in our testing that’s extremely tricky due to how iOS manages the two lenses. Basically, as most experienced iPhone photographers probably already know, when you tap the 2X button, that doesn’t guarantee that the iPhone will use the second lens — often it just uses a digital zoom on the standard lens if iOS calculates that this will produce a better picture. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, iOS won’t use the 2X lens if the standard lens is blocked, so as Olloclip itself notes, you’ll have to set the iPhone Camera app into “Portrait” mode to force it to use the 2X lens. In our testing, however, this generally produced strange results, likely due to the Portrait Mode processing going on in iOS 12; we rarely got consistent focus and lighting across the entire photo in this mode, so suffice it to say that the Telephoto Pro Lens should only be considered an option for optically magnifying the standard iPhone lens, although it still offers a big advantage over the built-in dual-lens system, since you can guarantee that you’ll always be getting the best optical zoom when using the noticeably better Olloclip lens, which also still captures more light than the slower built-in 2X lens.
With most of Olloclip’s Essential lenses are priced at $45 each, the company’s new Pro lenses definitely command a price premium, but this is also a good indication that they should be viewed as premium lenses. Any experienced photographer knows that lenses are about using the right tool for the job, and the fact is that for most casual photographers who are simply taking snapshots to share on social media, Olloclip’s Essential lenses will be more than sufficient. However, more serious photographers who want to capture more creative and artistic photos and memories will be delighted with Olloclip’s new Pro series lenses.
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