Olloclip 4-in-1 lenses for iPhone

The perfect iPhone attachment to render the DSLR useless, but there's a catch

The context

It begins with a fantasy, and like all fantasies, it may end in crushing disappointment. Blame it on those billboards that pithily proclaim, “Shot on iPhone 6", with gorgeous wow-inducing photographs worthy of National Geographic. You know the kind: Rainbow-hued sunsets with an orange-robed monk framed in the middle. Or a mystical green Japanese bamboo forest closing in at the far horizon, like a lotus at dusk. Underneath is that single line which spurs your soul’s ambition, mocking you with its seeming mendacity: Shot on iPhone 6. Indeed.

The fantasy

Heck, you have an iPhone 6. You take decent pictures. That could be your work up there. So thought every bathroom singer who watched Britain’s Got Talent. That could be me up there. So thought every adult who watched Kaun Banega Crorepati and fancied himself lucky. And so thought every plump Indian man who watched Sehwag hit a century. That could be me up there. In that feeling lies the fallacy. And in that feeling lies the reason why you go online to shop for products such as this one.

The reality

The Olloclip markets itself as a range of “groundbreaking lenses and accessories for the mobile photographer". The idea is that you fit these lenses, smoothly and instantly, on your smartphone, and take photographs worthy of a billboard or a professional.

Suddenly your selfies are getting 1,000 likes on Instagram. Suddenly a model agency is calling you to be part of the Samsung campaign. Suddenly all the Nikon lenses that you have been buying for several hundred dollars and storing in the back of your cupboard—in the hope that one day, you will use all of them and cheetah-walk around like Clint Eastwood in a national forest—are rendered redundant. All you need is this tiny gadget and your photography life is changed forever.

The Olloclip’s website begins with a subterfuge of sorts. It shows images of people taking fantastic photographs by attaching Olloclip lenses on their smartphone camera. Nowhere does it say that these damn lenses will not fit your smartphone if it has a protective casing or even a thin screen protector. In my view, Olloclip ought to begin with a bold-sized caveat right on their front page: these lenses will only fit your naked smartphone. If you, like most sensible people, have a case and a protector, these attachments will not fit. You may as well spend more money by buying our case for $30.

The Olloclip 4-in-1 lens retails for $79.99 on Amazon.com. I bought four. Big mistake. Never buy more than one of any object online, however delectable it may look. In my defence, birthdays of close family and friends were coming up. I thought I had found an ingenious gift. It was small, easy to cart around, and ubiquitous in terms of usage. After all, everyone has a smartphone these days; and everyone was posting photographs on photo-sharing sites. Everyone needed lens enhancements.

The product

The Olloclip 4-in-1 attachments include the fisheye and wide-angle, as well as the macro 10x and 15x lenses. They are advertised to be “quick change", to suit different purposes: the fisheye for selfies, the wide-angle for panoramas or group shots of Indian families, the 10x and 15x for details.

The good news is that these attachments weigh less than an ounce. There is a pendant into which you can click the lenses and sling it around your neck for easy access. The fisheye and wide-angle are the default, while the 10x and 15x lenses are available by unscrewing the fisheye and wide-angle lenses.

So far, so good. Now, if only the attachment was made in rubber or silicone and could fit like a skin over my camera. Instead, the Olloclip is firm and unyielding. Try as I might, I could not fit it over my camera’s lens protector. It was rendered mute and useless from the get go.

If you have a phone that is nude though, this product does rev up the photographic quality.

The details

The Olloclip is available on Amazon and the company’s website.

The verdict

I have three Olloclips that I am trying to get rid of. Offers close to $79.99 will be entertained.

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