mobile photography technology, culture and community

Accessory review: Olloclip telephoto lens and circular polarizing lens for iPhone

I tested the iPhone 5 version of the Olloclip telephoto/polarizer lens in conjunction with the official Olloclip iPhone case.

One of the newest offerings from iPhone photography superstars Olloclip features a 2X zoom lens and polarizer combo. This handy iPhone photography accessory fill the gaps left by the company’s other lens — a wide angle/fisheye/macro combo that we gave a 4-star review last year.

We reviewed the Olloclip Telephoto and Polarizer lens by testing it in various photography situations using an iPhone 5. Slipping right over your iPhone’s camera, this Olloclip functions in exactly the same was as the original, making it a comfortable purchase for Olloclip fans. 

Because the lens relies on a snug fit over the camera, you cannot use it with most smartphone cases. Olloclip does sell a specialized case for its lenses with a rotating piece that reveals a window to perfectly fit your Olloclip while simultaneously acting as a volume-up shutter trigger. 

When the 2X zoom lens is on the camera, the detachable polarizer is facing you. Because of the polarizer's large lens, you lose access to a little bit of the top right section of the screen — an annoying, but not deal-breaking issue that can be quickly resolved by taking the polarizer off of the Olloclip.

The device’s well-built, all-glass lens takes high-quality images with very limited distortion. Off the phone it stays safe in a tiny soft satchel provided with the Olloclip.

For comparison, here is my scene capture using the iPhone 5 without the Olloclip.
With the 2X zoom lens, there is a bit of distortion around the edges of the photo.

As a 2X zoom lens, the Olloclip has some of the cleanest optics I’ve seen from an iPhone accessory. Usually, iPhone zoom lenses have more distortion than they are worth. The iPhone Telephoto Lens and Lens Dial, for example, left distracting ghosting and radial blurring. The Olloclip, on the other hand, has minimal undesirable effects. While the edges of the zoomed photos have a tiny bit of distortion, the center is crystal clear.

For comparison, here is my midday scene without the Olloclip.
With the polarizer, you can see more detail in the clouds.

The polarizer is ideal for landscape photography and controlling reflections and glare, especially in bright conditions. The properties of the polarizer will darken your photo slightly and remove some glare. The polarizer performs especially well in mid-day because it helps repair the noon blow out of direct sunlight. 

By itself, the polarizer lens seems a little underwhelming compared to Olloclip’s other offerings, but the real benefit of the accessory is that you can also pair it with Olloclip’s other lenses. The polarizing filter fits perfectly on the 2X zoom lens. And with the help of the included adapter, it can fit on the new 4-in-1 Olloclip as well.

For $99.99, the Olloclip is a pricey toy. And if you are just dipping your toes in the iPhone lens pond, you might want to try a more universal iPhone lens kit first. Since it serves such a specific function as a zoom and polarizer, the new Olloclip might not be a good first iPhone photography accessory, but the 2X zoom lens/polarizer is a great addition to any iPhone photographer’s gear collection.

What we like: Clean zooming and a functional polarizer. It's the best short zoom lens for an iPhone that I've tried so far. Removable polarizer can work on other Olloclip lenses.

What we don’t like: No access to home button and covers up part of the iPhone display when the polarized lens is on. It has very specific functions, so it might not be a take-everywhere device.

Overall rating: 


Total comments: 4

I do not think that lens is a zoom lens. Just ordinary 2X teleconverter.

Greg Biggs

I wanted to like this nifty little accessory. After looking at the sample images I would be kidding myself to think I could use them as anything other than a novelty item. The distortion around the outside edges is totally unacceptable. Besides that the image even at its sharpest point is soft. If I were to rate this device on a scale of 1 to 5 I would at best give it two. I would advise people who might consider this item to first consider spending that $99 on a small compact camera which would come with a minimal 3 X and be far better.


"As a 2X zoom lens, the Olloclip has some of the cleanest optics I’ve seen from an iPhone accessory."

If so, then you have not looked at the Schneider Optics iPro line of lenses - they too have a 2x converter, and also wide angle adaptors. I know from personal experience the WA adaptors are much nicer in quality than the Olloclip, so I would think the 2X adaptor would be also.

The thing is that with cameras of lower resolution you need to spend MORE effort to get distortion-free gear, because you have fewer pixels to recover data from. The Olloclip is already expensive so why not spend a bit more to get something even better?

1 upvote

4/5 stars? Really?
It's waste of money IMHO and also a waste of time trying to make smartphone do everything when it cannot for a very simple reason.

1 upvote
Total comments: 4
About us