Olloclip Studio case review: Turn your iPhone into a serious photography rig
If you’re serious about shooting video on the iPhone, the Olloclip Studio case is a must-have.
Olloclip has built an incredible Studio case that can transform your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus into a full-blown multimedia creation kit. While their usual lenses can dramatically expand the creative possibilities of the iPhone’s camera, the Olloclip Studio also comes with a series of mountable attachments, so you can easily attach tripods, lights, and other accessories.
Out of the box you get a slim protective case, one finger grip designed to be comfortable in both landscape and portrait orientation, two ¼-20 screw mounts for tripods (one portrait, one landscape), two cold shoe adapters for microphones and lights, a velvety lanyard, and a kickstand to leave the iPhone propped up on its own.
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Five different color options are available, depending on your style. Gaps are left for the headphone jack, Lightning connector, speaker, camera, and mute switch, while volume and power keys have standard pass-through buttons.
These attachments are each put into place by popping the hooks in at an gap near the top of the iPhone, then sliding it down the two trenches in the rear of the case. Over the course of a few outings, I found this sliding became quite a bit looser; I worry about how secure those mounts stay over the long haul.
Of course the Studio case is built to accommodate Olloclip’s lenses, which are great. Be sure to check out our review of the Olloclip 4-in-1 lenses to see the samples. I found these somewhat necessary to complete the rig’s feature set, which means added cost if you don’t already have them. The lenses themselves don’t need the little plastic brace when the case is there, though you need to slip it side-to-side when switching between front and rear camera. Typically I went with fisheye on the front and wide angle on the back.
There are a few fun setups I’ve experimented with using the Olloclip Studio. Some are low-key, some are entirely overkill.
My most complicated rig involved mounting the iPhone 6s Plus on my Xcam Mini stabilizer and attaching an Anker PowerCore 10000 battery using a Glif with a cold shoe adapter (plus rubber band, since it’s not really designed to hold batteries). The iPhone 6s Plus already has great stabilization, but with this set-up, I could get some exceptionally smooth pans, and shoot for ages. This could be handy when shooting b-roll at weddings, for example.
Another configuration I tried was more for interviews in the field. It includes a Que Audio Mini Shotgun plugged in with an adapter from an Audio-Technica ATR3350iS lav mic. On top of that, there’s an Olympus Mini tripod, and LinkLight LED. This makes it easy to pick up good quality audio at close range, and keep subjects well lit. That said, the Olloclip lens covers up the iPhone camera flash, which would generally be good to have just in case you don’t have a separate LED.
I hardly ever get to use my Revo Quad Skate Dolly, so I mounted the iPhone on there with the threaded attachment and used the fisheye lens for some really dynamic close-ups. I could see this being great for panning, slow-mo action shots where you absolutely want to get every bit of movement, and having a warped image just adds to the style. I could see a similar set-up using a Joby Gorillapod to set up for timelapse videos.
The lightest configuration I have simply uses the kickstand and adjustable lanyard. This is good for setting up for Facetime calls or watching a longer show. Lanyards in general I find get in the way and this one in particular is tricky to install since the case is quite snug and it’s tough to remove the iPhone. Still, the added security feels good when you’ve got your iPhone out and are taking pictures non-stop. Both of these attachments are handy even when you don’t want the added overhead of carrying around an Olloclip lens.
The biggest hurdle for the Olloclip Studio is less its quality and more its practicality. iPhone has become a common everyday camera for its convenience, and as soon as you start tacking on additional equipment, that benefit begins to wane. After all, if I’m going to need a separate bag for Olloclip lenses and attachments, I may as well bring my point-and-shoot camera along, right?
The one area where this is not necessarily the case is livestreaming video. This marries the image processing power of the iPhone with its inherent connectivity in a way traditional cameras can’t. To that end, the Olloclip Studio is in a unique position to enhance the final product with microphones, lights, and extra stabilization. So, I used the Olloclip Studio case back at Computex when covering it for our sister site, Windows Central.
You’ll notice a few things about this. For one, I’m regularly needing to slide the Olloclip lens back and forth whenever I switch views. This can be jarring in situations that are already a little chaotic. Secondly, you can hear the lens slide over the microphone on the rear, which is always covered by the lens. On the upside, the iPhone still managed to perform admirably, given how noisey the venue was. I had the Que Audio Mini Shotgun mic hooked up, but apparently it needed an extra cable to work.
This brings up another point: you’ll need to bring adapters and mounts to get everything to work together. That means your accessory (the case) has accessories (sliding attachments) for accessories (microphones, lights, and tripods) that might also need accessories (cables, adapters, and bags to carry them in). It’s easy to see how this could all get quite fiddly. Through all of that juggling, I ended up losing the finger grip, which is unfortunate considering how helpful it was.
The Olloclip Studio isn’t for the casual photographer. Its usefulness depends so much on a your willingness to haul around extra gear, not to mention having that gear in the first place. The iPhone takes great pictures for sure, but there are only specific kinds of people that really need to capture and share those images immediately from the field.
For prosumers or highly mobile or socially-focused professionals, Olloclip Studio certainly does what it says it does on the box does it well. The real value here is that there are basically no other products that can deliver this kind of utility to photographers, and that alone may be enough for those that know what they need to do.
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