Olloclip's Telephoto + Circular Polarizing Lens: Up close and personal
For iPhone photography, the Olloclip 3-in-1 lens kit (US$69.99) has no peer. The kit includes high quality wide-angle, fisheye, and macro lenses ... but no telephoto lens. That hole in the Olloclip line has now been filled with the addition of the new Telephoto + Circular Polarizing Lens ($99.99) kit. This lens and filter combo is available for order now, and was scheduled to ship in late July, 2013 -- that date, of course, has come and gone, and the Olloclip website is still showing that the telephoto can only be pre-ordered.
The telephoto lens is a 2X lens, meaning that everything seen through it is magnified optically by two times. Like the other Olloclip lenses, the telephoto is made from optical glass and aluminum, much more durable and optically superior than plastic.
The entire little kit comes in two microfiber bags, one containing the circular polarizing lens and the other containing the iPhone 5 adapter with the telephoto. The telephoto can be used by itself, or the circular polarizing lens can be slipped onto the front of the telephoto lens to reduce glare and provide richer color.
Like the 3-in-1 lens kit, the telephoto can be used with a "naked" iPhone 5 or in concert with the Quick-Flip Case ($49.99) that adds a tripod mount and cold shoe to the mix.
Like the 3-in-1 kit, the telephoto is a piece of cake to install. You simply slip the adapter over the camera lens on your iPhone 5 and the lens lines up perfectly. You can use the telephoto with any iPhone camera app, or for extra capability in terms of focusing you can download the free Olloclip app.
To give the Olloclip Telephoto and Circular Polarizing Lens a workout, I went for a walk in our local greenbelt, which is filled with marshy areas that are loaded with cattails and prairie wildflowers this time of year. To demonstrate the telephoto capability I took some shots with the regular iPhone 5 lens, then with the Telephoto Lens with the Circular Polarizing Lens attached and adjusted (rotated) for maximum effect. The results can be viewed in the gallery below -- note that in each case, I have placed the non-telephoto image first, followed by an image through the telephoto. The final pair of images shows how the polarizer can be used to minimize reflections on water.
The optics in both the telephoto and polarizer are pretty good. I liked the fact that there was no visible vignetting; some third-party lenses I've used have shown the telltale edge shadowing of vignetting, while the images with the Olloclip telephoto were bright and clear across the frame.
While not exactly inexpensive, the Olloclip telephoto and circular polarizing lens are a perfect accompaniment to the company's wide-angle offerings for avid iPhone photographers.
- Excellent build quality
- No vignetting of magnified telephoto image
- Coated lens reduces reflections to a minimum
- Circular Polarizer works very well for increasing sky/cloud contrast, reducing water reflections
- Included microfiber carry bags can be used to clean lens surfaces
- Somewhat expensive, although the product quality is top-notch
- Might not be usable with future versions of the iPhone
Who is it for?
- The hard-core iPhone photographer who uses the phone as his or her sole camera
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