Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 have pretty good cameras. Even better if you happen to own the Plus versions of these smartphones, which add a second rear camera that offers 2x optical zoom. But if you’ve wished for even more capabilities from your iPhone camera, the Olloclip Filmer’s Kit has you covered.
If you’re interested in smartphone photography, chances are you’ve heard of Olloclip. The company has built a reputation for designing high quality clip-on lenses for the iPhone. With the Filmer’s Kit, they’ve partnered with Incase to put together a collection of popular lenses and accessories, packaged in a high quality case with die-cut foam padding. Included is everything you need for some seriously creative photography with an iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone 7 Plus, or iPhone 8 Plus, along with a professional-looking case to store it all in. The $199 Filmer’s Kit also represents a discount compared to buying the included items individually.
Everything Included in the Olloclip Filmer’s Kit
• Core Lens set (Fisheye, Super-Wide and Macro 15x lenses)
• Active Lens set (Telephoto 2x and Ultra-Wide lenses)
• Pivot mobile video grip with GoPro adapter
• CONNECT interchangeable lens system for both sizes of iPhone 7/8
• Clip + Pendant Stand for both sizes of iPhone 7/8
• Carabiner clip
• Wrist strap
Purchased individually, the included Olloclip accessories would total over $250—and that doesn’t include the custom compression molded case from Incase.
Olloclip Lenses in Action
The Olloclip system uses a dual-sided clip that aligns over the iPhone’s cameras, allowing the lenses to be used with both the primary camera and the FaceTime “selfie” camera. The lenses themselves feature premium multi-element coated glass optics. You can easily switch out the lenses on either side of the clip, and with the Filmer’s Kit, there are a total of four lenses to choose from.
The clips can be stored on included, wearable Pendant stands when not in use. These do double-duty as a clever iPhone stand, folding out to prop up the smartphone for watching a video or participating in a FaceTime video chat.
While you get a lot more flexibility and some DLSR-like capabilities, there are a few downsides to the clip approach. You can’t use the Olloclip lenses with a standard iPhone case. You’ll have to go case-free or invest in an “Olloclip-ready” case. The clip covers the flash, and also partially obscures the iOS camera app’s controls (the row of buttons that controls HDR, flash and other functions).
The Plus Dual Camera
Things get a little confusing when it comes to the dual camera system on the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus. All of the Olloclip lenses are compatible with these iPhones, but to double down on the optical zoom of the Plus 56mm camera plus the Olloclip Telephoto 2X lens, you’ll probably need to use a third party camera app. Olloclip has an explainer on the issue, which is rooted in how the iOS camera app switches between cameras depending on light conditions.
I’m not going to go into all of the different lenses, but I thought I’d show what it looks like shooting with the Olloclip Telephoto 2x lens. This one got a lot of use during my testing because the ability to zoom in on a subject is high on the wish list for many smartphone owners (that’s why Apple introduced its dual camera system).
Here’s what a photo of a tulip looks like taken with the iPhone 7 Plus native cameras, and with the Olloclip Telephoto 2x lens used together with the iPhone’s 56mm telephoto lens. Photos are taken from the same distance and angle, not cropped and not edited in any way.
Apple’s built-in lenses provided a sharper image across the entire shot. The Olloclip lens stacked on top of the iPhone 7 Plus offers an impressive optical zoom that’s sharp for the subject (the tulip), but as you move away from the focal point there’s blurriness. There could be some camera shake at play in there with the stacked telephoto lenses, neither of which is optically image stabilized… However, if you crop the image you can get some party nice results using the Olloclip lens to supplement the iPhone’s built-in cameras.
And, of course, with the Filmer’s Kit, you get additional lenses, including a Super-Wide that’s great for landscapes.
One of the accessories Olloclip includes in the Filmer’s Kit is the Pivot Mobile Video Grip. There’s nothing particularly fancy about this grip—no gyroscopes or motors—but I found it is really handy for shooting video. The universal clamp can take any mobile device from 4-inches to 5.5-inches (including most smartphones in a protective case). It offers 225-degree articulation, has a comfortable pistol-style grip, and folds up small enough to fit in a pocket. I have a stabilized grip n my gear collection, which I have not used since the Pivot arrived. No batteries, compact, way easier to use, and it still offers far better results than holding a smartphone in your hand.
Should You Buy the Olloclip Filmer’s Kit?
At $199, this is an investment and probably too expensive for someone who just wants to dabble with taking an optically zoomed shot now and then. But if you enjoy photography using your iPhone—or if you travel and wish you could leave the DLSR behind—the Olloclip Filmer’s Kit is worth considering. It’s a pretty good deal and packs a lot of options for iPhone photo and video creativity in a single, compact case.
Disclosure: Olloclip provided a Filmer’s Kit for evaluation but had no input into this review.