Let’s face it, when you shell out upwards of £700 for a flagship phone, a huge chunk of that money is going towards its camera. Some people might say that’s nuts, but for others, who don’t don’t want the hassle or added expense of owning a real camera, it’s really not that ridiculous. However, even for fancy handsets with double or even triple camera setups, phones still lack the flexibility of interchangeable lenses.
That hasn’t stopped accessory makers from trying to address that shortcoming though and for years, Olloclip has been making solid add-on lenses for the iPhone. But when Apple switched things up on the iPhone X with its vertically-arranged dual rear cameras, the company was in a bind. Its previous lens clips just didn’t work anymore. So rather than trying to cobble something together, the company started all over again and designed a new clip from the ground up.
All images: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)
The result is the new Connect X system, which is less like the reversible sleeve Olloclip made for previous iPhones, and more like an actual clip. Constructed out of plastic, the little kit sports asymmetrical spring-loaded halves that let you attach and detach the system in a blink, along with removable lenses that can be used on both the iPhone X’s front and dual cams in back.
To remove a lens from the clip, just squeeze the little tab. It seems awkward at first, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly.
The whole system hinges, quite literally, around on a single button that can be squeezed to separate the front and back sections so you can slip it over the iPhone X’s top-right corner. Getting it to sit properly is damn-near foolproof. The Olloclip logo faces out front, while the W/T labels marking the wide and telephoto cameras point out back, and when it’s seated, you’ll know, because it locks into place.
From there, you can use the little tabs to move the detachable lenses around, shifting them from front to back, or flipping them between the iPhone X’s two rear cameras; the Olloclip plays nice with both. In the core kit, which the company calls the Photography Box set, you get three different lenses for $100 (£74; UK pricing and availability TBA): a super wide-angle lens, a fisheye lens, and a 15x macro lens.
This attachment is actually two lenses in one. To use the macro lens, you need to unscrew the fisheye.
So to see how Olloclip’s Connect X fares against competing products, I compared it to the gold standard among smartphone glass add-ons: the Moment lenses. And with a price of $100 for the whole set, versus Moment, where each lens costs between $90 (£66) and $100 (£74), Olloclip is up against some stiff competition. But as you’re about to see, pics from the Olloclip still look pretty decent.
First up is the Olloclip’s wide-angle lens, which did the best job of keeping pace with its much more expensive competitor. Its 120 -degree field of view is almost exactly the same as what you get from Moment’s 18mm lens, and allows the iPhone X to capture close to twice as much as the landscape when compared to the phone’s stock camera.
However, if you look closely, you’ll see that while the buildings in Moment’s picture are almost completely straight, the image from Olloclip’s lens exhibits barrel distortion that makes the structures appear slightly curved. Additionally, the pic from Moment’s lens sports better sharpness around the edges of the photo when compared to the Olloclip, which features more blur the further you get away from the centre of the frame.
Moving on to Olloclip’s macro lens, its 15x magnification is much greater than what you get from Moment’s pricier 10x alternative. As before, Olloclip’s lens also suffers from focus that falls away quickly as you get away from the centre of the pic, though part of that is the result of the super shallow depth of field you get at that 15x zoom. This can make it tricky to get your subject looking super sharp, as tiny movements can completely change what is and isn’t in focus.
Finally, there’s Olloclips fisheye lens, which you access by unscrewing the fisheye lens from its mount. While it offers the most extreme view of the of three, to me, it’s kind of a gimmick. With that much distortion, it’s not something you can really use all the time. This leaves me me much preferring Moment’s superfish lens, which mostly avoids the big black spots that you see in the corners of the Olloclip’s pic.
Aside from a few of Olloclips optical shortcomings, the are a couple of other minor issues with this lens kit. Because of how the clip is designed, you can’t use it in conjunction with any sort of protective case. They are just too bulky, though screen protectors should be OK.
The keychain attachment can turn into a handy little stand.
Also, the Olloclip covers up the iPhone X’s FaceID scanner, which means when the lenses are attached, you’ll need to enter your PIN to unlock your phone. Same goes for the iPhone X’s ambient light sensor, which means if you have auto brightness turned on and the Olloclip attached, the phone will think you’re in a dark room and decrease the screen’s brightness. Slightly annoying. However, the keychain accessory attempts to make up for those issues by doubling as a tiny little stand. Neat.
In the end, what the Olloclip lacks in image quality and multi-phone compatibility, it more than makes up for in value and ease of use. And if you ever want to add on additional lenses later like Olloclip’s 2x zoom, you don’t need to buy a whole ‘nother kit, as new lens can be swapped in just like all the others. For owners of an iPhone 7 or 8, there’s also a new single-sided Olloclip set for those models too. So for the people who want to up their creative game on social media, or are seeking the benefits of owning a traditional camera but don’t want the added bulk, the new Olloclip for iPhone X is a slick (and simple) way to add style to your shots. Not bad for under 80 quid.