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Great post by our Fall Intern Kristi!

I used to dismiss smartphone lenses as merely a toy and not legitimate equipment for real photography. As photographers, we dish out thousands of dollars for glass for our DSLRs, but now smartphones have lenses for a fraction of the size and cost? Nope. Nuh-uh. I wasn’t a fan.

That is, until I used one. (Cue to insert foot in mouth)

Our friends over at Olloclip gave us a few of their iPhone 5/5s lenses and these little things are awesome. With options including a telephoto with a polarizer, as well as a fisheye, wide-angle, 10x macro and 15x macro in a 4-in-1 package, these tiny lenses conveniently clip onto the corner of your phone and can seriously advance your smartphone photography game.

The Olloclip Macro Lenses

I love macro photography, but I didn’t think an iPhone could be capable of taking extremely close-up images. I took advantage of a rainy day in Gainesville to test out the Olloclip macro lenses on my iPhone 5s and I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

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Taken with macro 15x Olloclip lens
Taken with macro 10x lens
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Taken with macro 10x lens
Olloclip Lens Review!
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Taken without any Olloclip lens

These macro lenses allow you to get extremely close to what you’re shooting, and create some pretty beautiful depth of field.  Everything will look fuzzy with these lenses unless you intend to get up-close and personal with what you’re shooting, but if you do, it comes out really clear (and really cool). Just make sure to keep your hand still when you’re trying to click the shutter button – the slightest shake will make your entire photo a blur, but that’s expected of any macro lens, especially one of such a small size.

Taken with macro 15x Olloclip lens
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Taken with macro 15x Olloclip lens

Other Olloclip Lenses

While shooting with the wide-angle lens, I noticed that the images come out a bit distorted depending on where your horizon line is in the frame. This is not something unique to smartphone lenses, though — DSLR wide-angle lenses can cause distortion just the same . (The fisheye lens extremely distorts photos because, well, that’s the point.) Here is a comparison of a wide-angle view of Gainesville’s very own Lake Alice above a regular, sans-lens photo of the lake, both taken from the same spot:

Taken with a wide-angle lens
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Taken with a wide-angle lens
Taken without any Olloclip lens
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Taken without any Olloclip lens

And, for contrast, here’s the same view from the same distance but taken with a 2x telephoto Olloclip instead:

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Taken with 2x telephoto lens

And for fun, here’s a fisheye view:

Taken with fisheye lens
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Taken with fisheye lens

In Summary

Of course, if you’re aiming to take extremely high-res, high-quality photographs, these lenses shouldn’t be your first option as they won’t compare to those of a DSLR. Keeping that in mind, all photographers should know that the best camera to use is the one you have on you, and more often than not, that camera is part of a smartphone. For everyday, on-the-go photography, (or even just for fun!) smartphone lenses heighten the standard and help to produce photos any photographer — professional or amateur alike — can be proud of.

Olloclip lenses are available for the iPhone 4/4s and 5/5s, iPad, and Samsung Galaxy, so check ‘em out!

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