iPhonetography: Macro Photography with the Olloclip iPhone Lens Clip-On System



Hey there point-of-viewers! My name is Erik and I’m an employee here at Point Of View Camera. I love everything to do with photography and videography and will be writing a weekly column about iPhone photography, or as I like to call it, iPhonetography. As we all know, whether you like it or not, the iPhone has revolutionized the mobile phone world; and with the advent of the iPhone 4 and 4s, it has also revolutionized the photography world as well. No longer are we forced to carry around a point and shoot camera to compensate for our mobile phone’s sub-par camera; we now have phone cameras with high megapixel counts, larger sensors, quality glass, and all sorts of other optical enhancing goodness. Inevitably, due to the iPhone’s (deserved) popularity, and its awesome camera, there are now a bevy of products out there to enhance the already stellar pictures you can take with it.

Today I am going to talk about macro photography with the iPhone. There are several products that offer external lens systems for the iPhone, but my favorite is the Olloclip. It’s an extremely clever 3-in-1 lens system that clips on to the corner of the iPhone 4 or 4s. It has a wide angle, fisheye, and macro lens all in one little device. The largest lens is the fisheye, flip it around and you have an awesome wide angle lens (approximately double the field-of-view of the standard iPhone camera). The macro lens is actually part of the wide angle lens assembly. Simply unscrew the wide angle lens in the direction of the arrow on the lens barrel. The macro lens is set perfectly within the olloclip and will be flush with the clip when the Wide Angle lens is removed. Place the olloclip back on your iPhone and move right in on the subject. It is extremely compact, you barely even notice it in your pocket; therefore it’s possible, and recommended, to bring it everywhere your iPhone goes (which is likely everywhere you go as well).

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The macro lens is pretty much awesome, it can get some seriously up-close shots. When I said "move right in on your subject" I meant it, literally, only a centimeter or so away. This results in some spectacular close-up images. There is a little bit of a learning curve when first using the macro lens, but once you get to used to it, it’s pretty amazing. At first I couldn’t believe how close you have to get to your subject in order to focus - it’s seriously close - however, the end results are larger-than-life images from a perspective the naked eye just can’t capture.

This is a true macro. You may have seen macro lenses described as 1:1 and wondered what that means, as at first it seems like things are much larger than 1:1 when using a macro lens. What this actually means is that things captured by a macro lens are as large on the image sensor of the camera as they are in real life. So if you had a fly sitting on your image sensor, a true 1:1 macro photo would result in that fly taking up just as much room in the image as it did on the physical sensor (pretty much the whole sensor, on smaller sensors like phone cameras have); meaning that you’d have a heck of a lot of detail. This macro lens is at least a 1:1, likely much more.

I took the Olloclip out on a hike a few days ago and got some seriously awesome images. The pictures come out very sharp and detailed, I was certainly wowed. There is definitely a little barrel distortion and some sharpness fall-off as you get away from the center, but that’s to be expected. Below are some of the macro shots I took with the Olloclip (click for a larger version). Enjoy! I’ll be back next week with some photos taken with the fantastic fisheye lens.

Here’s a macro of some multi-colored lichen I found on a rock while climbing dangereously close to a 60m cliff!
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Everyday moss turns in to alien coral when viewed through the Olloclip’s macro lens.
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Here’s a shot of the moss with the wide angle lens to show just how close the macro lens can get.
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A close up of 50 year old rust.
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