Step up your iPhone camera game with these attachable lenses [Review] ★★★★☆

1 week ago 19

Is it worth buying a full-size camera these days? The reasons to do so grow smaller and smaller as smartphone cameras get better and better. It’s getting to the point where you have to spend a thousand dollars or more for a full-frame camera to take noticeably better pictures than your iPhone.

Even then, a dedicated camera still won’t automatically sync your pictures to iCloud and might not tag your pictures with location data. And then you have to buy lenses — and full-size camera lenses are expensive.

What if, instead of buying a different camera, you could add lenses and accessories for your iPhone that fill in the missing gaps? You could get the same versatility with the same convenience.

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Moment lenses review: An advanced modular camera system for iPhone

Moment is a camera hardware, bag and accessory marketplace. The company developed a system of tools that will elevate your iPhone camera to the next level. Moment’s attachable lenses can give you that extra-far zoom you miss from your DSLR. The anamorphic lens will give you true cinematic ultrawide video without cropping it down. The macro lens offers an incredibly shallow depth-of-field compared to the iPhone. And Moment’s tripod and cage accessories make it easy to use your iPhone with the rest of your camera gear.

All of the company’s lenses come with a fitting lens cap and a microfiber pouch to carry them in. They’re even labeled.

Keep reading to see how it all works together.

Jump to a section:

Moment CaseTele lensMacro lensAnamorphic lensFilmmaker CageTripod MountSummary

The Moment Case

Moment Case for iPhone 12 Pro with lens interface.Moment Case for iPhone 12 Pro in Black with lens interface.
Photo: Moment

The best way to use Moment lenses is to use a Moment case. The whole system would be a nonstarter if Moment’s cases were bad, ugly or expensive. Luckily, they aren’t. They’re well-made and they offer a reasonable spread of styles, for a variety of iPhones and Android devices.

The case comes with a plastic insert that the Moment lenses attach to. As a result, the lenses line up perfectly with the camera lenses on your iPhone.

The Moment case I picked is a firm but soft-touch bioplastic. It would protect your phone from day-to-day drops or impacts, and the lip around the display and cameras will keep the glass from scratching on any surfaces.

MagSafe compatibility is a must

The case is MagSafe-compatible. Not only is this essential for attaching your phone to Moment’s tripod and cage mount accessories, but you can use your MagSafe wallet, battery pack, car mount and chargers just as well as if you’re going caseless.

There are a lot of solid color choices, too. Moment offers premium cases with wood on the back, and a clear case as well. You can get rugged cases if you want a greater level of protection. Moment even sells a battery case for proper excursions.

I opted for Moment’s “less is more,” “super-thin body” case, but it feels pretty substantial to me.

It may not be your favorite case, but there’s something there for everybody. I find myself taking it off when I know I’ll go a few days without attaching a lens. I just prefer the smaller size and feel of the iPhone without a case.

Buy from: Amazon

The Tele 58mm Lens

The Moment Tele lens.The Moment Tele 58mm lens.
Photo: Moment The Ohio University Convocation Center, as seen from across the Hocking River. (iPhone 2× Lens + Moment Tele Lens)The Convocation Center at Ohio University, shot using the Tele lens from a quarter mile away across the Hocking River.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

The telephoto lens will add 2× optical magnification. Now, you might be thinking, “Why do I need that? The iPhone already has a zoom lens.” Well, your iPhone probably has two lenses you can attach it to; each one has different benefits.

If you attach the Moment zoom lens to your iPhone’s zoom lens, you can get even more zoom. If you have an iPhone 12 or older, that gives you 4× optical zoom; on the iPhone 13, that’s 6× optical zoom.

On the other hand, the iPhone’s built-in zoom lens has significantly worse low-light performance — especially on the iPhone 13. (ƒ/1.5 versus ƒ/2.8. Even if you don’t know what that means, that’s a big difference.) So if you attach the Moment zoom lens to your iPhone’s wide lens, you get the best of both worlds: great low-light photos and a closer shot.

Of course, if you have an iPhone SE, iPhone XR, a standard iPhone 12 or 13 — or you’re one of the lucky few with a mini model — you don’t have a zoom lens. The Moment Tele lens is an absolute must-have for camera nerds with an entry-level iPhone.

Shooting with the Tele lens with Apple’s camera app is a little tricky. Attaching it to the iPhone’s 2× camera confuses it. I shot the photos below using Halide, a third-party camera app that plays nicer with camera accessories like this.

Comparison shots

Here are some comparison shots between the maximum zoom I can achieve versus the standard 1× lens.

Ohio University's Stocker Center. (iPhone 2× Lens + Moment Tele Lens). You can zoom <em>way</em> in with both zoom lenses.You can zoom way in with both zoom lenses.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac The Ridges in Athens, Ohio, a former insane asylum that's now an art museum and office building. And here I thought my career shift from computer science to blogging was dramatic. (iPhone 2× Lens + Moment Tele Lens)The Ridges, a former insane asylum that’s now an art museum and office building. And here I thought my career shift from computer science to blogging was dramatic.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Buy from: Amazon

The Macro Lens

The Moment Macro lens review.The Moment Macro lens.
Photo: Moment

Macrophotography is another feature the iPhone 13 has built-in, but Moment’s lens works a little differently. With the Moment Macro lens attached to the iPhone’s 1× lens, you get a much narrower depth-of-field than is possible on the iPhone 13.

Compare the pictures from this article of iPhone 13 macro shots to what I could take on my iPhone 12 Pro with Moment’s Macro lens. If you prefer the shallow depth-of-field look, Moment takes the cake. Again, this is an optical effect, so you won’t get any confused edge detection like you get on Portrait Mode. The Macro lens can take some truly incredible shots.

Flower. (iPhone 1× Lens + Moment Macro Lens). Visual Lookup has identified this as a plant. I have independently confirmed with an expert that is correct.Visual Lookup has identified this as a plant. I have independently confirmed with an expert that is correct.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac Bug (iPhone 1× Lens + Moment Macro Lens). I thought I got a really cool picture of a cicada, but a resident bug expert I showed this photo to has informed me this is just an empty shell. Good picture, though.I thought I got a really cool picture of a cicada, but a resident bug expert I showed this photo to informed me this is just an empty shell. Good picture, though.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac Leaf (iPhone 1× Lens + Moment Macro Lens). I would have sworn I've seen this exact picture on the wall of a budget hotel in Atlanta if I hadn't taken it myself.I would have sworn I’ve seen this exact picture on the wall of a budget hotel in Atlanta if I hadn’t taken it myself.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Buy from: Amazon

The Anamorphic Lens

The Moment Anamorphic lens review.The Moment Anamorphic lens.
Photo: Moment

Moment’s Anamorphic lens will give you an optically wider aspect ratio of about 2.4:1, compared to the standard 1.8:1 (also known as 16:9). Sure, you could just crop a video down to widescreen, but then you lose some vertical resolution. With the anamorphic lens, you can capture true cinematic footage in full 5120 × 2160p.

Of course, your iPhone doesn’t know this is happening, so if you’re using the stock Camera app, all of your footage is going to appear a little squished as you shoot. You’ll need to convert it using your Mac when you get home. (If you have
ffmpeg, you can use this quick command to change it really easily: ffmpeg -i input_file.mov -aspect 24:10 -c copy
output_file.mov.)

But let’s be honest, no one gets a camera case and a cinematic aspect ratio lens just to upload footage directly from their phone without editing it first.

The Anamorphic lens works best on the iPhone’s 1× camera. Autofocus didn’t seem to work right attached to the 2× camera — probably because it covers up the LiDAR sensor, if I had to guess. This is fine for long-distance shooting, but I couldn’t capture the close-subject shots of my cat or dog with the 2× lens.

Here’s a compilation of some clips I took with the Anamorphic lens.

Most handheld shots used the Mobile Filmmaker Cage; the car footage used the Pro Tripod Mount.

Buy from: Amazon

Mobile Filmmaker Cage

 The Mobile Filmmaker Cage makes it easier to achieve pro-level results when shooting video.The Mobile Filmmaker Cage makes it easier to achieve pro-level results when shooting video.
Photo: Moment

The Mobile Filmmaker Cage makes shooting with your iPhone easier regardless of whether you’re going handheld or mounting it on some gear. Your iPhone sticks in with MagSafe, so you can put it in and take it off in a moment — no fiddly screws or clamps. The MagSafe puck feels very strong — much stronger than other MagSafe accessories I’ve used.

Handheld, you can get rid of that pesky camera shake. Holding the Filmmaker Cage naturally keeps your hands farther out, so your imperfect shaky hands will have a smaller effect on the camera. This is a must-have if you need to professionally shoot handheld video with any sort of motion or speed.

Connect all your filmmaking accessories

The Filmmaker Cage offers standard mounting points all around for attaching it to a microphone, tripod, gimbal, jib or whatever you need.

Almost all of the handheld footage in this review was shot with the Filmmaker Cage. I’m a spry young person with years in college marching band; my hands are pretty steady. You wouldn’t think so if you look at any of the videos I shoot with the iPhone’s 2× lens. The Filmmaker Cage is a highly useful and versatile tool to keep in your arsenal.

Buy from: Amazon

Pro Tripod Mount

 This Tripod Mount also makes great use of MagSafe.Moment’s Pro Tripod Mount also makes great use of MagSafe.
Photo: Moment

The Pro Tripod Mount is a straightforward product: It comes with a standard screw hole on the bottom for mounting to your favorite tripod and the same incredibly sturdy MagSafe puck from the Filmmaker Cage. You also have a slot for attaching a microphone or light. The mount itself is tall enough that it can be rotated to portrait for filming vertical video.

It’s made of a solid, sturdy piece of steel that instills confidence. This is a solid product that massively simplifies the process of attaching a phone to a tripod, which I cannot emphasize enough, is usually slow and frustrating.

This is a great product — even if you buy no other Moment accessories.

Buy from: Amazon

Moment lenses reviewed: Summary

What I was sent here isn’t even the half of it. Moment also makes a fisheye lens, a hose clamp MagSafe mount and a whole set of lens filters. When I was driving around Athens, Ohio, taking pictures for this review, I remember thinking, “Man, I really wish they had a camera bag to carry some of this stuff in,” only to find out later that, yes, Moment makes all kinds of bags. Some are tailored to fit two lenses; others can hold a wider array of accessories.

In terms of what could be improved, the ball is in Apple’s court, not Moment’s. For example, when you tap the 2× button in Apple’s Camera app, sometimes it will try to crop in the 1× lens instead. This is normally an invisible process. But when you’re using Moment lenses, your phone might get confused. You’ll end up with a blurry picture of a lens instead of the shot you want. Luckily, third-party apps like Halide can overcome this.

If you want to take better iPhone pictures, the Moment camera accessories are exactly what the doctor ordered. If you’ve given up on DSLRs because of the cost or the bulk, this is the product for you. Moment’s mature ecosystem of lenses and attachments will put the last nail in your home camera’s coffin.

★★★★☆

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