Moment’s smartphone lenses are, in theory, perfect for people like me. I love taking photos and have wanted to try more serious photography for a long time, but the nicest DSLR cameras are expensive, bulky, and intimidating.
Moment’s new T-series lenses, launched last month and now on sale, might just allow me to take better photos without investing in high-end camera gear. They’re hardly cheap – they range from $120 to $150 apiece – but it’s an easier pill to swallow: they’re cheaper than full-size camera gear, lighter to carry, and simpler to use thanks to their reliability. on a smartphone and camera user interface you already know.
Moment gave me pre-production versions of four of the six lenses it offers to test. These are small, well-built, heavy black pucks with the look and feel of proper photographic equipment. And they can even act the part. After trying them, it seems like they have real potential in the hands of a professional: they truly let my iPhone’s camera do things that it simply can’t do without them.
I was able to test four lenses from Moment: the 58mm telephoto lens, the 18mm wide-angle lens, the 14mm fisheye lens, and the 10x macro, all of which you’ll see used in the photos below. Moment also makes two anamorphic lenses, the Anamorphic 1.33x and Anamorphic 1.55x, with variants with blue or gold highlights.
But before we get into that, here’s a photo of my cat, taken with the Moment telephoto lens attached to the 3x camera on my iPhone 13 Pro:
Moment lenses must be attached to your phone via a mount that goes over your camera lens. For my iPhone, I screwed the lens into the bayonet-style attachment that Moment sells separately from its camera cases. You can also mount them on various Android phones with custom-made Pixel and Galaxy cases or a universal clip-on mount if Moment doesn’t make a case for your phone.
At least with the iPhone mount it’s quick and easy to attach a lens and get straight to business: what else? — take photos of your cat. The closer zoom of Moment’s telephoto lens was particularly notable. While the iPhone 13 Pro has an excellent main camera and a solid ultra-wide, 3x telephoto images have never been its strong suit. I think this is where Moment’s gear offers some of its biggest benefits.
These first two photos were taken in Apple ProRAW and minimally processed to even out their brightness (Moment’s telephoto lens produced increasingly slightly darker images). They were taken at the same distance with a tripod, using the iPhone’s 3x camera, with and without Moment’s 58mm telephoto lens, and one of them is the clear winner:
I have no doubt that the iPhone’s telephoto lens alone could get such a detailed photo, but the Moment lens allowed me to take the photo from two or three feet away. Even so, Moment’s telephoto lens couldn’t save this image of a guitar from the low-light blur of the iPhone 13 Pro’s 3x camera and, if anything, makes it more obvious:
For most normal shots, it’s not immediately obvious whether Moment’s 18mm Wide lens is better than the iPhone’s main shooter, but it has its advantages if you look closely. The increased depth of field in the image on the right leaves tomatoes sharper compared to the iPhone’s bare wide camera on the left. The Moment lens also captured more of the scene:
In this next photo, Moment’s wide lens does a better job with bright, backlit subjects than the iPhone’s main camera alone, creating a less washed-out image (and prettier lens flare):
Since Apple introduced the ultra-wide camera on the iPhone 11 Pro, I’ve sometimes found it fun but rarely useful. Sure, you can capture more of the scene with it, but it’s not as sharp as the main shooter, and it’s bad in low light. With Moment’s fisheye lens attached to the iPhone’s main camera, I got a much wider, more detailed photo of this bulb – with a fun perspective warp, to boot:
Apple then added macro photography using the ultra-wide camera for the iPhone 13 Pro phones, and again, it was fun, but I quickly grew tired of taking close-up photos of the wire of my pants or something. On the other hand, Moment’s macro lens gives you a shallower depth of field and the benefit of the iPhone’s much better main camera for sharper details.
It also works well with the iPhone’s telephoto lens, which lets you take macro photos from farther away so you don’t shadow your subject. (You have to get very close (for macro shots with the lens attached to the iPhone’s wide-angle camera.)
And just look at the sparkly details on this little plastic moon man’s dusty helmet!
So yes, Moment goals are more than fun toys. But one thing to note here. The iOS camera app doesn’t work well with them. It constantly refocuses and will refuse to use the iPhone’s telephoto lens when you have the Moment’s telephoto lens on it, leaving you with a digital zoom main camera partially blocked by the Moment lens body. Fortunately, third-party apps like Halide and Moment Pro Camera get around this problem with manual focus and no forced digital zoom.
The size of the lenses gives them a big advantage as a compact kit for travel photography. I would absolutely take them – especially the telephoto and fisheye – with me on trips, to special events, or even just on a nice summer day when I know I might come across something I’d like a photo, which is already a frequent phenomenon for me. Although their small size worries me at least a little, I might misplace them at some point.
I had a lot of fun playing with the Moment lenses, and the superpowers they gave my phone gave me a taste of what I’m missing without a DSLR. I don’t know if I would buy them for myself because I would almost certainly lose them, but that’s kind of a hassle. Me thing that a Moment thing.
Now, as a treat, here’s a gallery of some of the other never-before-seen photos I’ve taken with Moment’s T-series lenses.