Up Close With the olloclip 4-IN-1 Photo Lens for iPad

| In-Depth Review

olloclip is well known for its lens kits for the iPhone going back to the iPhone 4s. These small, easy-to-attach lenses typically include a wide angle, fisheye and Macro capability. Now, olloclip has launched the olloclip 4-IN-1 Photo Lens for iPad, and it carries on a great tradition.

_______________________

The 4-IN-1 Photo Lens for iPad is compatibile with the iPad Air, the iPad mini and iPad mini with Retina display.  One of the nice things that Apple did was to make all three current iPad models the same thickness and make the optical axis of the camera lens offset from both edges the same distance. That's what allows this lens kit to attach and focus accurately on all three models.

This iPad kit has four lens configurations:

  • Fisheye lens: captures approximately a 180 degree field of view
  • Wide-angle lens: nearly doubles the iPad’s normal field of view
  • 10X Macro: with an 18 mm focus distance
  • 15X Macro: with a 12 mm focus distance

The entire assembly, without lens caps, weighs just under 26 grams (0.91 oz.)

For those who are unfamiliar with this line of lenses that originated for the iPhone, see: "olloclip’s 4-IN-1 iPhone 5/5s Lens Kit Covers All the Angles."

Shown on iPad Air.

 

Why Develop for the iPad?

It's fairly obvious why one would want a special lens kit for an iPhone, a device that's likely to go wherever you go. But why would one want a similar kit for the iPad? Actually there are plenty of good uses for this product on an iPad.

  1. Real estate photos where the agent needs a larger visual canvas to work with.
  2. Scientific and laboratory work in concert with specialized technical apps.
  3. Government offices where a cell phone isn't allowed.
  4. Use in K-12 schools for science lab projects. Think bugs.
  5. The owner has an iPad but made a big mistake and bought a Samsung smartphone.
  6. The owner has an iPhone, but it's in a very sturdy, protective case that's hard to remove.
  7. A larger display is useful for iStop motion projects.

Another factor to consider is that Apple changes its iPhone design frequently. For example, the iPhone 4s was fairly thick, and so it needs its own olloclip kit. The iPhone 5s is thinner and has its own olloclip set. The iPhone 6 is expected to be even thinner, so thin that it may not even support a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

On the other hand, customers are likely to keep their iPads for longer than a year in my experience, so a lens kit for, say, an iPad Air, is likely to be usable far longer and remain a good investment. Otherwise, when selling an iPhone or iPad to another person, a lens kit like this is a attractive add-on accessory that can help quickly close the deal.

Usage

This kit works just like the previous kits. You unscrew the wide-angle component to reveal a 10x macro lens. You unscrew the fisheye to reveal the 15X macro lens. Here's a shot I took (iPad mini, 5 megapixel) of a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil dot inside a 4 mm circle. Not that at the extreme edge of the sticky note line, there is some curvature, but that's unavoidable. In the center, the engraved millimeter lines on the steel rule are very straight.

Lines are straight in center; some edge curvature.

One of the operational difficulties I had with this kit was a change in the way the annotations are engraved on the lens barrel. In the past, there was white lettering on red or black. This time, the engraving, on a silver color background (aluminum), isn't colored, and that makes the lettering very, very hard to read. Here's the very best shot I could take to show the nature of the engraving, and it's not bad in this close-up. But in bright light, at reading distance, it isn't nearly as easy to read.

Farther away, in bright light, this engraving is hard to read.

Just to give you an idea of what you can do with a lens kit like this, Here's a montage of the standard iPad mini camera, the wide-angle lens, then the fisheye lens, left to right.

L to R: standard iPad mini, with wide-angle, with fisheye.

Packaging

olloclip always does a superb job of presenting the product at the point of sale. The lens system is well protected, yet nicely presented for inspection. A microfiber pouch (with drawstring), suitable for lens cleaning plus lens caps are included, as always.

Some of the best packaging ever seen.

A flap on the box opens to display the feature, benefits and operational lens configurations. As always, a panel on the box shows exactly which Apple products are supported.

Flap opens to reveal a lot of information to prospective customer.

Portability

With a total length under 40 mm and weighing less than 26 grams, this lens kit is something one can always have in a briefcase, guide pack or purse. The only issue, and it's a recurring one, is that if the iPad is in a case, the case must be removed. Olloclip solved that problem with the iPhone by offering it's own case with a flip-open section to reveal the mounting point. There is no such offering with the iPad, so I recommend one uses a case that's very easy to remove. One I especially like is the Macally Clear Case.

The Final Cut

I have always been enthusiastic about the design and lens quality of these olloclip lens kits. With the exception of the engraving being a little harder to read, this kit lives up to the heritage of all that has gone before. This kit for the iPad ships on June 25, 2014.

Product: olloclip 4-IN-1 Photo Lens for the iPad

Company: olloclip

List Price: US$69.99

Pros:

Works with all currently shipping iPads, small and lightweight, has four lens options, quality optical glass and aluminum lens barrel, easy, error-free attachment to iPad, microfiber carry pouch with draw-strings, lens caps, great packaging. Excellent value for price.

Cons:

Annotations/engravings on lens barrels hard to read on this model.

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Join the TMO Express Daily Newsletter to get the latest Mac headlines in your e-mail every weekday.

No Comments

Log-in to comment