Shootout: Olloclip versus Photojojo lenses

21 May

By Geoff Meeker

May 21, 2013 – The image quality of smartphone cameras has caught up with and even surpassed old-fashioned point and shoot cameras, and it didn’t take long for innovative minds to seize the moment. We now have at least two sets of camera lenses, custom designed to enhance the photo-shooting experience of smartphone owners.

I have highlighted the Olloclip (olloclip.com) and Photojojo (photojojo.com) lenses within the last year, but haven’t had an opportunity to try both until now. (I received a sample set of the Olloclip lens, regularly priced at $70, and a discounted review set of the Photojojo lens, which retails for $50.)

The Olloclip is made exclusively for the iPhone 5 and comes with an iPod adaptor. It features three lenses – wide angle, fisheye and macro – in a single assembly that fits snugly over the corner of the iPhone. The fisheye is on one side, and the macro and wide angle on the other (wide angle unscrews to reveal the macro underneath).

For those coming at this fresh, the macro lens is for extreme close-ups, the wide angle pulls you back for a wider view and the fisheye lens distorts the image into a round, fishbowl effect.

The Photojojo set actually includes four lenses, in three pieces: telephoto, fisheye, wide angle and macro (the latter two are combined, same as the Olloclip).

In addition to costing less and offering an extra lens, the Photojojo has one big advantage over the Olloclip – it can be affixed to virtually any phone, including many phone cases. The Olloclip only fits the iPhone 5 and won’t work on even the thinnest case, which will be an issue for many phone users, myself included.

The Photojojo attaches to the phone with a small circular magnet, which is first affixed permanently to the phone or case (it is sticky on one side). And here’s the kicker: it can attach to any iPhone or Android, and even seems to work with the Blackberry 10. Even better, the magnet can be affixed to a case, so you can keep the phone protected. And each lens comes with five of the sticky circular magnets – for a total of 15 – so you’re never going to run out. (I was able to test both brands at the same time by affixing the Olloclip to the phone and the Photojojo to the case, which removes easily.)

There’s no question that Photojojo is the frontrunner so far. It’s got the Olloclip beaten on price, extra lens and universal fit. But what about image quality?

I’ve been playing with both sets of lenses for a number of weeks now (though the weather has not been ideal for outdoor photo excursions) focusing mainly on the macro lens because it, to me, is the most interesting and important advance for iPhone cameras. That is, the fisheye is an effect you will only use occasionally, and the wide angle is almost unnecessary – more often, we want to get closer to a subject (and usually it’s easier to step back than snap on a new lens). The macro, however, allows you to observe details undetectable to the naked eye and really does open up a new realm of photographic exploration.

A selection of photos from both sets of lenses is posted below.

The Photojojo fisheye had sharper detail around the edges of the ‘fishbowl’ and yielded much better detail with subjects that were 15 or more feet away. However, the Olloclip performed noticeably better on close-up subjects, with greater clarity and warmer colours. The wide angle also performed reasonably well on both sets of lenses.

The macro lenses, however, are most important and both performed equally well, delivering close-ups of plant and insect life in jaw-dropping detail (for a smartphone, at least). Browse the photos below to see what I mean. One minor quibble with the Photojojo: the lens body is larger and will cast a shadow over subjects when there is bright sun.

And you know what’s cool? These lenses also work on video, greatly enhancing the quality of your home movies. (Some of the macro videos can be spectacular.)

The Photojojo telephoto lens is probably the game-winner here. It’s a 2X zoom, which means it doubles the magnification of the existing lens. That may not sound like much, but the results are pretty impressive. I photographed a cellular tower from a distance, first with the iPhone’s native lens and then with the 2X zoom. In the zoomed image the tower was eight times larger than the original, so this lens really will make a difference. And this is an optical zoom, which beats your smartphone’s built-in digital zoom hands-down (digital zooms simply enlarge the pixels).

All things considered, the Photojojo definitely comes out on top. It’s a fantastic buy, for $50 (plus shipping and duty).

Image Gallery

This image gallery supports the print edition of my ConsumerTech column, which appeared May 20 in The Telegram. (Note that the column has been renamed, from TechnoFile to ConsumerTech.) Both the Olloclip and Photojojo offer three lenses – wide angle, fisheye and macro – and the Photojojo goes one better, with a 2X telephoto.

In the following gallery I test each lens, shooting the same subjects and then comparing lens performance. Click on the images for a much larger view.

Fisheye-Waterfall

The Photojojo fisheye took a noticeably better image (above) of this waterfall. The details are crisp and clear and the water is properly exposed with sharp detail. However, the Olloclip image (below) is unsatisfactory. The water is overexposed and details are soft. While I think the lens is capable of better performance, this image is not an anomaly – all Olloclip shots of the waterfall had similar results.

O-Fisheye-waterfall

Fisheye-Pangeae beach

And then, a turnabout. The Olloclip fisheye outperformed the Photojojo on this closeup shot (just under a metre distance) of an ancient Pangaean beach. The Photojojo version (above) is muddy and unclear, while the Olloclip (below) is quite the opposite. Again, this is not an anomaly – the results were similar after several exposures.

O-Fisheye-Pangeae

Fisheye-sky

These fisheye shots of clouds and sky reveal a flaw with the Olloclip. The results are roughly similar, except the Olloclip (below) is fuzzy and unclear along the outer edges. The same could be said for the Photojojo (above) but the flaw is not nearly as pronounced. This quirk can be observed across all fisheye images. (And yes, there seems to be a speck of dust on the phone’s camera lens, visible in both pics.)

O-Fisheye-sky

Macro drop 1

Now for the macro shots, beginning with some greenery. These droplets of water are extremely tiny and the Photojojo lens (above) and Olloclip below did a good job with both.

O-Macro-drop 1

Macro drop 2

Another drop, and both lenses do a great job here as well (Photojojo above, Olloclip below). The focal points are slightly different but both images are clear and sharp.

O-Macro-drop-2

Macro-dandelion

This is the centre of a dandelion flower. Both images are excellent. The Olloclip (below) is more interesting, with those little bugs – which are barely noticeable to the naked eye – but the Photojojo does a fine job as well.

O-Macro-dandelion

Macro-wasp

The Olloclip (below) did a slightly better job with this wasp – which is quite tiny, at about 1 cm long – than the Photojojo (above). The Olloclip seems to have better depth of field, with more of the wasp in focus. In this shot, you can see one minor drawback with the larger Photojojo lens: it sometimes casts a shadow in bright light.

O-Wasp-macro

Macro-fly

Both the Photojojo (above) and Olloclip (below) did a stunning job capturing this fly, which was less than 1 cm long.

O-Macro-fly

Built-in lens

PJ-wide angle

The wide angle lens comes in handy when you’re up against the wall and can’t step further back to squeeze in that party or dinner table shot. It can be useful for landscapes, too. For comparison purposes, we’ve included a living room shot captured with the iPhone’s built-in lens (second above), followed by shots of the same scene with the Photojojo (above) and the Olloclip (below). The wider angle clearly gives an expanded view of the room. In both cases, images are sharpest at the centre and softer around the edges. There is some image distortion – a mild fishbowl effect – with both lenses. The clipped, rounded corners on the Photojojo were impossible to eliminate no matter how much I adjusted the lens. The latter may be attributable to mounting the lens on the case, rather than the phone itself, which changes the focal length by a millimetre or so. The effect would be even more pronounced if the lens was mounted on a thicker case.

O-wide angle

Tele-without

Unlike the Olloclip, Photojojo offers a telephoto lens. It’s just 2X magnification, which doesn’t sound like much until you compare these two shots. The first (above) was captured with the phone’s built in camera, for comparison purposes. The second (below), taken with the Photojojo telephoto, shows a dramatic difference – it looks a lot closer than 2X. This will come in handy whenever you can’t move physically closer to your subject. And because it’s an optical (rather than digital) zoom, the image is clear and not pixilated.

Telephoto

Advertisements

One Response to “Shootout: Olloclip versus Photojojo lenses”

  1. mitch November 28, 2013 at 5:19 am #

    humm… The olloclip can work with the iphone 4/4s/5/5s/5c

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: