Anyone who's previously been familiar with an iPhone will likely know of Olloclip. Producers of arguably the best clip on lenses for the iPhone and more recently, the iPad, Olloclip has now branched out to Android for the first time with lenses for the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4.
It's not hard to understand why they first started with Samsung's two biggest selling Galaxy S phones, the numbers game certainly has to be a factor. We first saw the new lenses at IFA, where they first launched, and we've had a little play around with them to see if they're worth your time.
How it works
In exactly the same way as the iPhone lenses, Olloclip for the Galaxy phones simply clip over the existing camera set up. However since the camera on the Galaxy S5 – and the Galaxy S4, though we're looking at the Galaxy S5 specifically here – is centered and not located in the corner like on the iPhone there's a stark difference in design.
What we're left with is a bracket with both lenses mounted on the same side. To switch between them you just change which side you're clipping it to. One clip goes over the top always but the other is either the left or right side of the phone depending what you're using.
Despite two physical lenses this is a 4-in-1 configuration. We've got a wide angle, fisheye, 10x macro and 15x macro at our disposal, with the macro functions accessed by simply twisting the lenses.
You also get a lens cap and a spiffy little carrying pouch to keep them safe when not attached to your phone.
Without going mad we've shot a few sample images to demonstrate the effects possible with the lenses. Obviously it's the quality of the camera on the phone that's responsible for most of the image, so do remember the shortfallings. With the Galaxy S5 it's probably not a good idea to do much low-light shooting with your Olloclip.
Looking at the wide angle first, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. You get a healthy extra amount in the sides of the shot but not without compromise. The edges of the image show up a lot of distortion if you look in close – not that it's unexpected – but you do have extra room to crop out the worst of it, at least.
Fisheye needs little introduction, we're all familiar with the effect. You get a great fisheye with the Olloclip but it can be frustrating to get what you're looking for. In testing we found the phone didn't focus at all well with this lens attached and it took a good amount of perseverance just to get an image that wasn't horribly out of focus. It's a fun effect but with the Galaxy S5 you need to stick at it to get what you're looking for.
The two Macro lenses also take a little perseverance and cropping to create good images, but as with the Fisheye some of the responsibility goes to the phone. When you get it right you can get some rally satisfying effects but the phone again struggles to focus quickly.
The Olloclip 4-in-1 lenses for both the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S4 are available to purchase now from Olloclip directly, priced at $69.99 each.
The bottom line
Just as with the iPhone, if you're looking for good quality clip on lenses to expand your mobile photography, you can do no wrong with Olloclip. The lenses offered for the Galaxy phones are every bit as good as those available for the iPhone. With a little perseverance you can get some really great effects out of these lenses, but the camera behind the lens will take some working with to get them.
In normal circumstances the Galaxy S5 is really fast to focus and shoot images but the Olloclip affects this for the worse. The results are on par with what you'll get with the iPhone equivalent, but getting there is a tougher, more frustrating experience. More of that is down to the phone than the lenses, but still, it's there. But, since you're able to use any of your favorite Android camera and photo editing apps alongside the lenses, there's a whole world of creative possibility out there for you to unlock.