Turn Your iPhone into a Portable Photo Lab with Olloclip and Polaroid
“The best camera is the one you have in your pocket,” is how the saying goes. It helps that the cameras that the majority of us carry around in our smartphones have increased in speed, clarity, and quality exponentially since Steve Jobs stood on stage crowing about “an iPod, an phone, and an internet communicator” over a decade ago.
But what about printing on the go? Or taking macro shots that aren’t just blurry messes? Or zooming in without sacrificing picture quality? There’s only so much your iPhone can do without some extra hardware help.
Using Olloclip’s Slide-on Lenses
Olloclip makes a series of slide-on lenses that range from a telephoto zoom to a macro lens that’s so detailed, it feels one step above a microscope. There are a couple of ways to attach them to your iPhone. Each clip comes with inserts that will make the olloclip sit snug on your iPhone; but you can also get an olloCase or Studio photography pack that comes with a very sturdy, very convenient case that the olloclip can fit on without any extra bits. I prefer the Studio case because, in addition to making the olloclip more convenient, it has rails built into the back so that you can add accessories like adapters for cold-shoe flashes or tripods, a kickstand, or, my favorite, a Finger Grip handle so that you can hold your phone stable with just one hand.
A few weekends ago, I grabbed my daughter and her friend and went to the local botanical garden. We went on a “scavenger hunt” looking for cool looking leaves to take close-up pictures of with the olloclip macro lens. I was floored by the results and the girls were too, as they ran ahead of me, scouting for new plants to take pictures of.
If you don’t use the included hood (which is a clip-on accessory you have to carry around, a necessary evil), you have to experiment to find the right focal point; but the resultant pictures are far clearer and more detailed than anything your iPhone could take on its own.
The telephoto lens clip doesn’t produce quite as dramatic results; but the point here is that you’re not just taking closer pictures; you’re taking closer pictures without having to resort to zooming. Without a physical telephoto lens, all your doing is taking the existing picture and not actually getting the lens any closer; but making one part of the picture bigger. When you do that, the image gets fuzzy and you end up with something that looks like an “enhanced” photo in a crime procedural (before they do all the magic clarifying that gives you a crystal clear shot of the reflection in the victim’s pupil). There was an osprey’s nest at the gardens and we tried to get shots of the baby chicks poking their heads over the edge. We weren’t successful; but the telephoto made it much clearer as to what we were looking at.
I will say that carrying around the olloclip is a bit of a pain if you’re used to a minimalist carry; but that’s the nature of the beast. If you want to take mobile shots your iPhone could normally only dream of, that’s the sacrifice you make. My only caveats are that you have to make sure you clean the lenses constantly – there were a series of zoom shots that we didn’t realize were blurry until we got home and downloaded them. Sure enough, there was a big fingerprint on the lens. Also, if you don’t line the clips up just right with the iPhone’s camera, it’s going to be blur city. Really, it comes down to a bit of a mindset change when using the olloclip – you’re going from an instant picture paradigm to one where a bit of composition and maintenance is necessary to get the best shot. My advice? Take a test picture once you first put the lenses on, and then carefully examine it in the Photos app to make sure everything looks the way it should.
Polaroid Zip Printer Features
Once you have all these great shots on your phone, how do you go about sharing them when your photography assistant is in 3rd grade and doesn’t have the tech to get them off your device? I grabbed a Polaroid Zip printer and brought it with us to take care of just that eventuality. It’s a fantastic little device, about the size of a chunky mobile hard drive. You load it up with special Polaroid paper, download an app to run it (yes, sorry, there’s yet another speciality app), and print out instant 2×3 images.
The Zip prints quickly and has decent picture quality. It’s also extremely fun. The app lets you do things like add labels and stickers to the picture before you print it out (and with two elementary school girls by my side, you know they used the stuffing out of that feature). My one wish is that the print capacity was greater. You use Polaroid’s Zink paper packs to reload the device and there are only 10 pieces of paper in each pack. Still, they provide instant, ink-free prints using the heat sublimation technology that made Polaroid famous. So practicality isn’t the point. Maximizing fun with your pictures is. The Zip was a welcome addition to my mobile photography kit. I threw a Re-fuel power bank in my bag as well just in case the Zip ever ran out of juice; but I never needed it.
Image source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykarcz/2016/05/19/mobile-photography-olloclip-polaroid/#31102e1844b7