The cameras on smartphones are getting ridiculously good --- good to the point that most households don't even own standalone cameras anymore. But given the dimensions that phone cameras are restricted to, they're not as flexible as something like a mirrorless or DSLR with interchangeable lenses. That's where Moment comes in. The company offers a small collection of lenses that can be individually purchased and attached to its Photo Cases, which are available for a variety of phones.
Of course, this isn't the first time that someone has come up with the idea of attaching lenses to phones. There are loads of cheap solutions on Amazon, though none are as high-quality and cohesive. But that quality comes at a price; Moment's current-generation lenses all hover between the $90-100 mark apiece. With that said, if you want the best lens interchangeability without having to buy a dedicated camera and you've got a lot of cash to spare, Moment is your best bet.
|Case||The Photo Case is one of my favorites, even ignoring the lens integration.|
|Mounting||Lenses are easy to install and easy to remove with Moment's system.|
|Lens build||All four lenses look and feel extremely solid.|
|Lens optics||The photo results speak for themselves.|
|Price||This entire ensemble would cost you over $400, which is still a significant amount even given the quality.|
I've already divulged most of my thoughts on the Photo Case in our Pixel 2 XL case reviews roundup, but long story short: it's a good case. The bottom is left open and the buttons could be better, but it looks good, feels good, and can be had in either Black Canvas or Walnut (what I have).
I'm a big fan of how the wood insert on my case looks, though if I had to buy it again, I might choose Black Canvas instead. The coating on the wood feels like it's worn off, and it's definitely not as smooth as it used to be. And this might sound silly, but I sometimes worry about the case giving me splinters. I'm not sure how realistic that concern is, but I thought I'd put it out there. The iPhone X version I have is basically brand-new and actually looks like it might be a different type of wood, and it still feels smooth.
All things considered, this is still a good offering. At $30, the Photo Case isn't the cheapest thing in the world, but it's also not prohibitively expensive. It's offered for most flagship phones. I'd recommend looking into it even if you have no interest in Moment's lenses.
There are four lenses available, each with their own unique selling points. As I mentioned previously, they're all priced between $90 and $100. There isn't much competition in this space, but one Moment lens alone costs almost as much as an entire kit from the next priciest competitor, olloclip. Luckily, the price is at least somewhat justified by the quality.
All four are said to be created with aerospace-grade metal and cinema-quality glass, and they look and feel extremely premium. Each has a small white line to help align the lens with the case before you twist it in, as well as a small logo and a measurement on the side (18mm, 170°, etc). They mount very easily, and your lens and your phone don't ever feel like they'll separate during use. Removal is quick as well; just twist in a counterclockwise direction and pull the lens off.
Line the white line on the lens with the indent on the case and twist clockwise until the 'M' aligns.
Each lens comes in a small package that includes a lens cover and a small drawstring bag for transport. If you have multiple lenses, Moment sells cases for two, three, and four lens arrangements.
The largest one, the Travel Case, holds four lenses and costs $39.99. The leather and canvas construction feels very premium, and there's room for more camera-related stuff in there as well. The $19.99 Mopho Roll is supposed to hold three lenses, but it's meant to be used with a leather Lens Holster with each, which is another big chunk of money. It doesn't seem very secure anyway. The Lens Case at $19.99 is a smaller version of the Travel Case, and it's worth looking at just like its larger brother.
Let's get into the lenses themselves now.
Moment's wide-angle lens, officially dubbed 'New Wide Lens,' will probably appeal to the widest (no pun intended) audience. It's advertised as allowing your phone to "capture 2x more picture," and I definitely believe it. This is my personal favorite lens of the bunch, as it allows you to capture a ton more without having to deal with any noticeable distortion. My only complaint about it is that it makes the phone pretty top-heavy when mounted, more so than any of the other three.
Photos taken with the Wide Lens just make it seem like you're standing further back when compared with those taken without, which is pretty great for situations in which you simply can't back up any more. To me, this is the most useful lens of the collection.
Here are some comparisons between no lens, the Wide Lens, and the Superfish Lens. (Every first picture will be without any lens, every second will be with the Wide Lens, and every third with the Superfish Lens.)
If the Wide Lens still isn't capturing enough for your liking, you might want to look into the 170° Superfish Lens. As you might have guessed, it has a fisheye effect. I'm personally not a fan of it since I prefer the straight edges in pictures to be straight and not curved, but it does capture quite a bit more than even the Wide Lens, which is no small feat.
This lens could be useful in certain scenarios, such as highlighting something or someone in the center or simply to capture as much of a landscape as humanly possible, but I think the Wide Lens does a good-enough job of getting more into the frame without sacrificing those straight edges I love so much.
Here are some more comparisons between no lens, the Wide Lens, and the Superfish Lens. (Again, every first picture will be without any lens, every second will be with the Wide Lens, and every third with the Superfish Lens.)
This does the exact same thing as what the latest iPhones' second cameras do: 2x optical zoom. It's useful for portrait-taking and just plain zooming in. And if you have one of the aforementioned iPhones with dual cameras, you can technically combine the phone's telephoto lens and the Moment Tele Lens for a total 4x optical zoom. That's pretty cool.
left: Pixel 2 XL. right: iPhone X
While initially using the Tele Lens on an iPhone X, I noticed that the picture would often black out when I switched to 2x (on the phone). It seemed completely random, and sometimes just turning the phone around would bring the picture back. But after removing the lens, cleaning the inside, and removing a fairly large speck of dust inside, I haven't had any issues. I'm not sure if that was the reason why it was happening, but the problem is gone now.
left to right (iPhone X): 1x, 2x, 1x w/ Tele Lens, 2x w/ Tele Lens
Here's a gallery of more comparisons. This is pretty obvious, but the photos taken without the lens are every first photo, and those with the Tele Lens are every second.
As someone who recently purchased a macro lens for a real camera, I was very curious to see how Moment's Macro Lens would compare. The camera and its lens can produce higher-quality shots (obviously), but the Moment Macro Lens is easier to use, and it consistently produces detailed shots.
With the Moment Macro Lens, you have to shove your phone and the lens straight into whatever you're shooting (about an inch away). This can often be impractical, and it's not something I have to worry about with the camera and its macro lens, but the results speak for themselves. It helps that the light diffuser hood is exactly the same length as the focal length, so you can bump right against what you're capturing.
left: Scratched Huawei Watch. middle: Dusty LEGO McLaren. right: UE MEGABLAST.
Below are examples of how close I could get to things without losing focus. You'll note that the images taken without the Macro Lens are slightly blurry, as that's the point at which the phone could no longer focus.
left: No lens. right: Macro Lens.
More on that light diffuser hood - I was initially soured by my experience with the whole lens because the hood would often get in the way of capturing certain things, but it turns out that the hood is removable. It's a bit difficult to do so, but if you use some effort, you can pull it off when the Macro Lens is installed on your phone. The hood itself works quite well at diffusing light and reducing shadows, though you will be able to see some corners of it in the pictures you take. It also acts as protection for the lens itself, though you won't be able to use the rubber lens cover while it's on.
Moment makes good products --- there's no doubt about that. Everything feels incredibly high-quality and works very well. The mounting system is well-thought-out, the lenses are nice and heavy, and the results speak for themselves. They're also easier to use than a dedicated camera and its lenses would be, though a true camera and a trained photographer would of course be able to churn out superior photos.
However, there is one major downside, and it's a huge one: price. A case and all four lenses will run you over $400, and that number can easily climb into the $500 range if you purchase enough accessories. Sure, that's less than a DSLR and this many lenses would cost, but this is still a huge chunk of change, and a DSLR is much more capable. There are a few competitors on the market, though none are as well-known as Moment is. Sirui offers a few for less, as does Beastgrip (though the case is ugly and expensive), but those companies don't do nearly as good a job with presentation and marketing in general.
That being said, have a look on Amazon and you'll see dozens of kits that do essentially the same thing as those for around $20. Even though those will indubitably be of lower quality, the price difference is just too massive to ignore, and those cheap kits are actually pretty well-reviewed. The closest competitor looks to be olloclip, with kits for around $100, but that's still a far cry from $400+.
At these prices, Moment is 100% a luxury brand, and that's fine. If you've got the cash and you want to treat yourself to some nice things, I understand. But I'd recommend at least checking out a ~$20 kit off Amazon first to see if you truly need this level of quality; you might just end up satisfied with one of those.