Olloclip Macro 3-in-1 Photo Lens review

5 out of 5
£70

For

Easy to use, huge magnification for close-up shots, great for science as well as close-up photos

Against

Limited use, only fits the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S

The Olloclip Macro 3-in-1 Photo Lens bolts on to your iPhone 5 or iPhone 5S and transforms the Apple device's lens into a close-up shooting machine. If macro shots are your thing then this triple lens kit - there are 7x, 14x and 21x options - enables pictures that are incredibly close up. Like, really close up.

But is it just a passing fad that's going to set you back £60, or something actually worth investing in? We've been snapping a whole host of things super-close-up to find out whether the Olloclip is an essential iPhone 5 accessory.

What does it do?

The idea is simple. The Olloclip Macro 3-in-1 Photo Lens provides three magnifications: 7x, 14x and 21x within the single unit. That transforms what the iPhone lens can do by each of those amounts - it's like going seven, 14 or 21 times closer in to the subject.

Lego Minifig shot with 14x Macro lens

The Olloclip slides onto your iPhone 5 with a snug fit - there are no fittings, no clips, no additional apps, no faff. That's good because it makes putting it on really easy, but bad because if you knock it then it can fall off. Ultimately that's okay though because this is a specific use lens rather than something you'll want to keep on all the time, so that quick slip on and off design is the best fit for this product.

As these are macro lenses there's a very tight field of focus. Try and take a picture of anything that is further than a 15mm away with the 7x and it will look blurry and be out of focus. With the 14x and 21x the focus is fixed, which is why each lens also has a removable diffuser around it - these look like those things jewellers use to look at diamond clarity. This offers the perfect subject-to-lens distance for focus, while diffusing the incoming light for better results and less pincushion distortion.

A leek shot with 21x Macro lens

Another World

At 21x, achieved by flipping the Olloclip around to its dedicated super-macro lens, the camera becomes good enough to clearly see the scratches on a 1p coin, or the dots in the printing of a $20 bill. It's also good enough to show the individual pores of a dog's paw pad or the stitches in a sofa cushion. You really can get that close.

The results are stunning, although you haven't got much wiggle room in terms of focus point. The depth of field is very tight, while to the corners there's some blurring distortion. But that adds to the look of the shots in its own way.

$20 bill shot with the 21x Macro lens

The included diffusers certainly help maintain subject distance for focus, but you don't have to use them. If you want to go off-piste, so to speak, it can be fun to shoot with the lens at an angle to enhance that steep fall off in focus. But we found it certainly helped to use the diffuser square-on to find the perfect focus distance.

Thanks to the Pocket-lint kids, we also found that the Olloclip 3-in-1 Macro is fantastic for school science projects, such as learning about the make-up of leaves and what things looks like close up. It's not quite a microscope, but it magnifies subjects well beyond what your eyes could ever see. Think of this as a 7x, 14x, or 21x magnifying glass.

The top of a Canon 700D shot with the 7x Macro Lens

While we found the more extreme 21x and 14x a lot of fun, we've also found for close-ups with greater context that the 7x comes in handy. It not only allows that close-up style, but there's a wide enough angle of view and a little more wiggle room - although not a lot - when it comes to focus.

Verdict

There is no doubting that the Olloclip Macro 3-in-1 Photo Lens is a niche product that will appeal to a select few, but if you enjoy taking macro pictures then this lens accessory combined with the great camera on the iPhone 5S makes this a fantastic product.

Focus is extremely tight and shots won't have pin-sharp results right to the edges, but the included diffusers are a great way to tackle subject-to-lens focus distance while softening light for some great shots of all kinds of subjects.

In short the Olloclip Macro 3-in-1 works really well and is worth every penny. It is for iPhone 5 and 5S only, so that may further limit its audience, but the more we used it the less we felt it was just a fad. The proof is in the various shots that we've taken - we're sure you will agree how impressive this little accessory is when you look over what it can enable you to shoot.