OllolClip 2X Telephoto lens review

Does one need another iPhone attachment to carry around, on the odd chance of maybe needing it. Besides, I have always believed that my legs make the best telephoto lens. While this may sound like a negative  statement, let us first examine the OlloClip 2X Telephoto lens attachment that comes with a rotating circular polarizing lens (CPL).

Mobile photography is very different from using a DSLR/SLR or traditional medium or large format cameras. I am not referring to that mobile artists app their images, rather we use our mobile camera devices differently then a DSLR/SLR and so we must look at the OlloClip 2X Telephoto lens not as a traditional DSLR/SLR telephoto lens, but how it applies to mobile photography. Let’s first remember the OlloClip 2X Telephoto lens, like our mobile camera lens is not only a fixed focal length, it also has no aperture controls, unlike traditional DSLR/SLR lenses. 

When I first used the OlloClip 2X Telephoto lens, it took some getting used to as we see with the first couple exposures I took. This is only natural because one needs to learn to gauge the fixed distances the subjects are brought in closer.

As a photographer I like being close and intimate with my subject matter, regardless if I am doing a table-top still-life, street photography or shooting a landscape and when the OlloClip 2X Telephoto lens is applied to any of these styles of genre, the lens attachment brings a new dynamics to one’s work that is not only exhilarating, but also alters the creative process and adds an element of intenseness.

Before exploring the many different applications the lens was tested at, let us look at the lens itself. 

When you open the package you will immediately notice that the OlloClip 2X Telephoto lens is solidly constructed of anodized aluminum with a central plastic mount, all of which is well designed and that the rotating circular polarizing lens attachment has multiple functions as a stand-alone item. The 2X telephoto lens is constructed of four elements, all made from coated precision-ground high-quality glass. Both lens comes in a draw-string microfiber bag that also doubles as lens cloth.

When the telephoto lens is reversed on the iPhone, the attachments only function is to enable the polarizer to be used with the native camera or that of any other camera application. Furthermore the circular polarizer can also be used with the OlloClip Three-in-One or the Four-in-One lens attachments.

The 2X telephoto lens is small enough not to appear intrusive to others or an obstacle to one’s use of the mobile device. The OlloClip 2X Telephoto lens comes with a clear lens cover but unfortunately the polarizer is not afforded with any protection when not in use, an oversight I hope will be rectified in the near future. Now let us look at the lens as it is being tested under various conditions.  

When I first tried the lens in a studio setting, it was to photograph a still-life set  of a dead bird on an antique book and while it provided certain advantages, it was also limiting for this type of photography. For there needs to be a certain amount of distance between the 2X telephoto lens and the subject before the subject is in focus. Yet the greater distance between the iPhone and subject that is created by the 2X telephoto lens allows for more control of manipulation of the light with reflectors and gobo’s, including that the iPhone or that of myself no longer cast a shadow, all of which is a major advantage. 

On the other hand, when the 2X telephoto lens was applied to street photography, it excelled and exceeded all my anticipations, especially after learning to gauge the distance for close encounters.

While I like getting real close to my subjects, trying to capture the human activities and conditions on the street and the use of the 2X telephoto lens provides not only that additional edge of visual intimacy of the subject matter, the results offer a different perspective not possible before. One of the biggest advantages of the 2X telephoto lens during street photography is that one can be 5-8 steps or feet further away from the subject and so almost appear invisible to the subject and less of being discovered.

Besides photographing street activities, I enjoy capturing distinctive architecture like ‘Mom and Pop’ grocery or liquor stores. In doing so, you would normally see me standing in the middle of the street, a matter that is not only unsafe, but with the 2X telephoto lens, I can in most cases just stand at the edge of the sidewalk, out of harms way and get the image I am seeking.

We must not forget that the iPhone lens when compared to a DSLR lens, the iPhone’s 4S f/2.4 is equivalent to 28mm and the iPhone 5S f/2.2 to a 33mm DLR lens. So when adding the OlloClip 2X Telephoto lens to your iPhone, the enlargement may seem only marginal at first, acting more like a normal 50mm lens on a DSLR. 

But then let’s remember we are adding a telephoto lens to a camera whose native lens is a wide-angle and after you begin using the 2X telephoto attachment, you will find like I did, the real strength of the 2X telephoto lens is to be more for immediate and in-between surroundings.

For example when attending a studio rehearsal with several musicians, the 2X telephoto lens once again proved to be indispensable, even under an extreme low light situation. My presence in such tight surroundings is not only intrusive but also a major distraction for the musicians who are separated from each other and need to communicate visually with one another through a window. By being a respectful distance from my subject, the musician does not feel crowded or like I am infringing on their space, while still being able to get the image I am after.

This dilemma of being too close with the iPhone without the 2X telephoto lens when attempting portrait photography, but by having the 2X telephoto lens attached to the mobile device, there is a respectful distance between subject and photographer that is so necessary.

My colleague Petyr Campos makes use of the OlloClip 2X telephoto lens for when you “want to be close to the action when but can't get close.” This is especially true when Petyr attends concerts/music events. “The 2X optical magnification delivered by the OlloClip telephoto lens allows me to zoom in and focus on individual subjects on the stage, while leaving out distracting elements. I can now turn a stage shot into a portrait.”

Photo by ©2014 Petyr Campos - All Rights Reserved

As for Petyr’s photographs of surfers along the California coastline, he states that the “telephoto lens allows me to get tightly framed photographs of surfers running into the ocean without getting in their way. I'm now also able to capture shots of surfers down the shoreline that were once too far away.”

Now the telephoto lens slips on and off with ease, just like their other lenses and in the past this has meant that one cannot be using a protective camera case, but OlloClip has released their own Flip-Case that also serves as a tripod mount, something that is very important to me. The Flip-Case is well designed and should be considered if you want a case that also allows you to use your OlloClips, while protecting the iPhone.

For me the OlloClip 2X Telephoto lens become a treasured  item and an important part of my mobile photography . It has provided me with the opportunity to fulfill my creative vision more precisely when that added closeness was essential. The additional rotating circular polarizer provided with the 2X telephoto lens and its ability to be used as a stand alone attachment to the other OlloClip attachments like the Three-in-One or the Four-in-One, or just by itself with the camera’s native lens is like icing on the cake, making the 2X telephoto lens a very good value purchase and one, highly recommend this lens.


This article first appeared in the British mobile magazine  MOB Fiction in March 2014. Since the publication this addendum has been added, since the OlloClip 2 X Telephoto lens  was originally tested using only a ratio 1:1 square camera.

Because of this, further  tests images were taken using PureShot camera app from Jag, a 4:3 ratio camera, allowing us to view how sharp the OlloClip 2X is from edge to edge.

Pre-performance lecture, Davis Concert Hall - PureShot camera application

PureShot camera application with the OlloClip 2X attached

While at the San Francisco Symphony, a place I felt was where one would wish to use the telephoto lens to capture the speaker’s presentation, as well as the orchestra members prior to the conductor Michael Tilson Thomas arrival, since photography is not permitted. With the iPhone 4S on a monopod, I took a couple of exposures, with and without the OlloClip 2X lens.

PureShot camera application

PureShot camera application with the OlloClip 2X attached

When we look more closely at the photograph showing where the choir is seated, particularly the upper left corner of the image, we clearly see softness. The degree of softness is not as sever as I have seen with other lens attachments and while any softness is undesirable, one must ask how much softness is acceptable.

Close up the choir showing the image left edge softness

Considering most mobile photographers alter their images into replicating LoFi effects or even resemble early 19th century prints and while I certainly would have preferred edge to edge sharpness, I still feel comfortable to recommend the OlloClip 2X telephoto lens without any reservations.

OlloClip website

All photographs taken with an iPhone 4S by
©2014 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved

Another TiPA GiveAway - BrushStroke

Mike, Partner and a software developer with Code Organa has recently released BrushStroke, an application designed to turn your mobile photographs into works of art. This is not their first entree, that was the very successful application Toon Camera, which has an iTunes customer rating of 4+.

Mr Fencendini, Dairy Farmer

For a number of days I dived into the application and experimenting on a number of different photographs, only to discover the hidden potential of BrushStroke and when you consider this is only version #1, it is not only a great start but has an excellent foundation to build upon. Stay tuned for an extensive review and tutorial of BrushStrokes coming real soon.

Here are a several photographs I altered with BrushStroke and I caution you, BrushStroke is addicting to use and the more you use it, the more you will discover about BrushStroke.


The Oak - ver. 2

A Grove of Trees

We received 5 codes to giveaway of BrushStroke and if you would like your chance at being one of the winners, here is what you will need to do.

1: You need to leave a comment and most important of all, include your contact information, so I can send you your code if you are one of the random winners.

     If no contact information is provided and your name was drawn, another winner will be chosen in your place.

2: Five winners will be chosen by random drawing on Monday, March 15 by 6 pm PST. Drawing closes on March 15 at noon PST.  When you go to comment, do not be fooled by ‘0’ Comment, it is a glitch that just loves to confuse people.

3: You can double your chances by connecting with me through Google Plus.

                         Good Luck!

BrushStroke is available on iTunes 

Toon Camera, their other program is also available on iTunes


UpDate: The results of the drawing are in

Congratulations to the winners . . .
                              I look forward to seeing what you have created.

          Carlos Austin
          Jim Neuer *
          Yassir Abbis
          Bill Munder
          Robyn W

Your codes will be sent shortly with instrutions on how to redeem them.

Thank you all for your participation in TiPA’s second GiveAway and a special thank you to Mike from Code Organa for making the program available.

Jim Neuer just sent me a message that he could not wait and so purchased the application and found it rather addictive. So he told me gift his code to another person and from the remaining names I have drawn Bobbie Altman.

All photographs taken with an iPhone 4S by
©2014 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved


Never Stop Looking

In Rob Reiner's movie “The Magic Belle Isle,” the actor Morgan Freeman plays the roll of Monte Wildhorn, a novelist of Westerns who has lost his imagination to write and now mostly only sees the end of a bottle, harvesting that last drop of Sour Mash, as he struggles with alcoholism. 

Monte passes his day in his wheelchair, cabin sitting for the summer and taking care of a dog Ringo, that does not know how to play fetch, in the hope of ending his long writer’s block. His next door neighbor is a lovely woman Charlotte O’Neil, played by actress Virginia Madsen, who is a newly single mom with three daughters. One of the daughters, Finnegan O’Neil, played by Emma Fuhrmann, is an inquisitive child with lots of curiosity who wants to be a writer.

She strikes up a conversation with Monte at a memorial, where she shows him her small pocket knife and Monte tells her in his soft reassuring voice, “. . . you can tell a lot about a person character about the condition of their pocket knife and I’d say you were fearless.”

She asks him if he writes stories, having overheard a previous conversation Monte with another person. “I used to,” he replied. “How do you make them up” she asks. “Imagination, the most powerful force made available to human kind.”

The Oak

The following day, Finnegan walks into Monte’s cabin announcing she needs three words, figuring he would help since he writes stories and this is only followed by “Can you teach me to write stories?” She persists and finally persuades Monte to overcome his reluctancy and to take her on the as a student, even though he himself has been having issues with writing since his wife died.

Finnegan tries to negotiate a deal with Monte for these lessons of imagination, offering to ‘look out’ but he is not too willing, so she ups the offer to pay cash for his services, a whooping $34.18 Dollars in cash, which is all the money she had.

So what exactly do you want for your money.” Confidently she replied “I want to know where stories come from.” After an exchange of a few more sentences, Finnegan asks “When do we start,” not realizing the she just had her first session.

As her second lesson, Monte slowly descends a narrow country road with Finnegan by his side and Ringo following. He stops and asks her “What do you see up the street,” then asks “What don’t you see.”

She looks at him with puzzling eyes and Monte only repeats his question to her and she answers him with only one word, “Nothing.” There is silence between the two, then Monte says, “See with your minds eyes. Keep looking.

When the movie enters into its last chapter, Finnegan walks into the cabin Monte is about to leave behind as now the summer comes to a close. He is sitting behind a table and typing on an old mid 1930s typewriter , typing one finger at a time, the ending to one of Monte’s Western books, The Saga of Jubals Maclaw, which Emma had been reading and where the last page was missing. 

After an exchange of small talk, Monte gives Finnegan back her $43.00 Dollar, saying, “I will owe you the 18 cents,” proceeding to give her his last advice and tells her “Promise me something . . . Never stop looking for what is not there.

These eight words that Morgan Freeman spoke to spur the imagination of a young would-be-writer that made me pause and think. Eight simple words which are at the heart of what imagination is all about.

To see and imagine, 
to think and believe, 
then visualize the possibilities and act upon them. 

Let this be your guide, your credo.

Notes about the image The Oak

A photograph was taken using an iPhone 4S and the camera application was 6x6 from Jag. Imported into Distressed FX and a filter was applied. A second copy was saved after applying another filter. The two images were introduced to Image Blender and combined. It was then ready for BrushStoke final manipulation and turning it into a painting.

All photographs taken with an iPhone 4S by
©2014 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved

BlogLovin' - a review

For some time I have wished for an application that will track all the websites RSS feed that I am interested in without having to use Blogger’s Reading List that was never very convenient. So when I recently discovered a program that not only works on the iPhone but also on the my Mac BookPro laptop I just had to try it. I am referring to BlogLovin’, created by a group of individuals in a garage in Täby, Sweden.

iPhone 4S screen shot of BlogLovin’

BlogLovin’ really shines on an iPhone or the iPad with the programs simple yet elegant interface to help you discover what you are really interested in, while also allowing you to completely customize the program with just your own favorite sites. Just in case you’re interested, there are 18 categories to select from art to wedding, including ‘Top Blogs,’ that will help you discover other sites. While you are in ‘Top Blogs’ you can set your preference for all categories but also if you want to scan all countries or a particular country, which I find very useful. The laptop version is also very clean and easy to operate, the ‘Top Blogs’ feature is missing and this includes being able to set country of preference. 

iPhone 4S screen shot of BlogLovin’

While there are also other BlogLovin’ features that will help you connect with friends from FaceBook to share your ‘Likes,’ the programs real power is that now all the websites I am interested in are quickly accessible on the iPhone/iPad or the laptop.

One other difference between the mobile version and the laptop, is that your settings are entered on the laptop version and because of this, I suggest downloading the laptop version first and entering all your information. Besides, while you’re setting up BlogLovin’, you will be prompted to enter your mobile phone number and shortly thereafter you will receive a text message with a link to download the mobile version of BlogLovin’.

So while your installing BlogLovin’, consider following my website The iPhone Arts.

For the desktop/laptop version of BlogLovin’ 

For the mobile version at iTunes

All photographs taken with an iPhone 4S by
©2014 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved


MOB Fiction - Street Photography, a review

When Rosanna Cappiello and Mark Allan Smith released the inaugural issue MOB Fiction Magazine in June of last year, there we many attempts to publish a follow-up issue, and as with any new venture, there are growing pains and these regrettably these caused several delays. Because of my relationship with MOB Fiction Magazine as a contributing writer, I knew of their intentions to make the issue not only better then the first, Mark wanted to improve the overall design appearance but also how the magazine interacts with the end user. This alone was a challenge, but after months of trial and error, success at last.

MOB Fiction - Issue 2 - iPad screen image

Each issue of MOB Fiction Magazine will focus on a particular theme and with this release, it is an iPhoneographer favorite subject matter, street photography. Featuring Roger Clay, who has achieved cult status for his style in-your-face of photography along with a wonderful interview of him by Los Angeles photographer Adrienne Parks.

Interview by Adrienne Parks - iPad screen images

MOB Fiction’s content pages - iPad screen images

The one hundred and seventeen page issue is not only filled with some incredible images, but there is also plenty to read and really get to know the person behind their photographs. Individuals from various parts of the globe, bringing their unique style to your attention, like Guy Woodland, Fiona Christian and Eitan Shavit of Israel, along with Christine Mignon, Rob Pearson Wright and several others.

MOB Fiction’s featured artists - iPad screen shots

There is also another extensive feature by Adrienne Park, were she interviews Emmy award winning, San Jose Mercury News photojournalist, Richard Koci Hernandez, who recently published ‘Downtown’ with Out of the Phone. There is also a tutorial on post processing by Sasha Dohmen, an OlloClip review and an introduction to street photography by me.

MOB Fiction’s other features - iPad screen shots

With the release of issue two, MOB Fiction is a magazine that is here to stay. Work on the next issue has begun and since it is all about portraiture, it will be featuring the sensational and controversial Dutch photographer, Lilith Love. 

Should you not be convinced by my review that this is one issue you should not miss, you can always download a few sample pages for free. 

MOB Fiction Magazine - Street Photography issue can be purchased from iTunes by clicking here
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