Lugging my Canon 5D Mark III camera into the backcountry is never something I get excited about. Recently, I've found that I just leave it at home and opt to take phone pictures instead. Of course, the photo quality isn't as good—or at least it wasn't until I picked up the OlloClip Filmer's Kit ($200) last month.
The kit, which comes in a protective Incase compression molded case and weighs under one pound, features four lens options: a fisheye, super-wide, telephoto 2x, and ultra-wide. It also includes a 225-degree pivot arm to mount, which helps create more stable and fluid shots. Despite a few shortcomings, it quickly changed how I shoot with my phone and drastically upgraded the photos I produce.
The 6-by-9-inch case—the size of a small textbook—is more compact than a traditional DSLR setup, so it fits great in a backpack or climbing bag. The hard shell outer and foam innards are super protective.
As for the four lenses, they snap over your iPhone camera lens and can be switched out in a few seconds. My only gripe: they don't fit over a standard phone case.
I shot all of the photos in this Instagram post with the Filmer's Kit. The fisheye is a fun option, which, despite being close, let me fit the entire boulder in the shot. I used the ultra-wide lens to help capture the whole base-camp scene, with my pup, Charlie, and group shots of friends.
The biggest shortcoming with the standard iPhone lens is that it's too narrow to take good landscape shots. Both the fisheye and wide angle lenses let you capture a lot more of the surroundings. I don't find myself reaching for the telephoto option much, as I've found it to be hard to get a non-blurry photo without a tripod.
Okay, I admit it: although it will improve your photos, this kit can't replace the image quality and features of a DSLR camera. These lenses simply don't have the glass-power to create full-color, non-grainy photos and won't let you customize focus or exposure. If you're looking to become an Instagram star, it's worth investing in the real camera.
At $200, the Filmer's Kit is a lot of money to spend on a phone upgrade, but it's also a lot less than you would spend on a new camera lens. If you're serious about improving your photography but don't want to commit to a DSLR, you'll definitely appreciate the quality and versatility of this kit.