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Olloclip's 3-in-1 macro lens opens up a whole new tiny world

The iPhone 5s has an excellent array of hardware and software features that make it a great tool for taking photos, but there's only so much it can do with a fixed lens and a digital zoom. Olloclip's line of clip-on accessories do quite a lot to improve this problem, letting you play with zoom, focus, and image manipulation. While I've had fun playing with the company's 4-in-1 model in the past, my current obsession is its new specialty macro kit--a 3-in-1 lens with 7x, 14x, and 21x macro magnification.

The kit has the same clip form-factor as Olloclip's signature 4-in-1 lens, though its lenses sit significantly closer to the clip than the 4-in-1's fisheye and wide-angle lenses. In addition, the macro kit comes with two focusing hoods: These snap onto the lenses and provide you with the proper distance for your macro picture to come out in perfect focus.

In practice, these hoods were excellent when photographing a flat subject--an object on a table, for instance--but suffered somewhat when trying to shoot actual, three-dimensional objects. After a few tests, I ended up shooting largely free-form--it was far less stable than using the focus hood, but I kept most shots crisp by pairing the iPhone 5s's burst mode with the volume-button-as-shutter trick.

But whether I shot free-form or hood-stabilized, the kit's resulting images were incredible. While I hadn't really explored macro photography before picking up this kit, I'm tempted to start: You unlock an entire new world when you start shooting on a macro scale, and the 3-in-1 kit's lenses easily unlock its full scope. I found myself shooting with the 21x lens most often, as gives the closest look at things we can't otherwise comprehend, but the 7x and 14x are great for pulling back enough to get more of the wider scope (without resorting to normal views).

To top it off, shooting macro images with an iPhone just feels right: The device is small enough that you can move it into tight spots and situations where a DSLR might feel clunky. And while my iPhone's sensor may not yet rival a professional camera's, it still produces stellar macro images, given enough light.

If you're a mobile photo enthusiast, this is a great little tool for your kit--and it's small enough that you can easily carry it along in a jacket pocket or bookbag and snap it on when the need arises. As it requires a precise fit on your iPhone, this does mean taking off any case your device might be ensconced in; if you'd rather have less annoyance in your photography needs, Olloclip sells a companion case with a trigger switch and tripod mount that fits all its lenses.

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