Review in brief: Moment telephoto 58mm lens

(Disclaimer: I’m not paid or sponsored or in any way connected to Moment other than having purchased a few of their products recently. But they’re currently just about my favorite brand, so I’m probably still biased. Oh well, what can you do?)

What is it? Each Moment lens is an extra lens to stick on your phone to take nice pics. Actually, it’s more of a system. Rather than clip directly onto a phone like some other lenses, the Moment lenses attach to one of their cases. At the moment they make cases for iPhones, Google Pixels, Samsung Galaxies and One Pluses. So if you use another flavor of phone it’s not an option right now.

The lenses then convert your phone lens into a different focal length, either wider (Superfish or Wide 18mm lens), narrower (58mm that I’m trying out here) or specialist (Macro or Anamorphic). They also have their own well-designed camera app for both iOS and Android with some nice manual controls.

I have the Black Canvas case on my Pixel 3 and the 58mm lens, and we picked up a macro lens too.

Why? Flexibility You might already have a dual or triple lens camera phone, in which case you already have the option of switching to a ‘telefoto’ lens. Adding the 58mm Moment lens effectively adds that same capability to a single lens phone. But you can also use them on a dual-lens system to add a third focal length.

Size I don’t use a big camera, but my X-T3 still doesn’t fit in a pocket, not even close. So if I don’t want to carry a bag, I generally only have my phone. With these lenses, I could effectively have my phone and mini lens system in my coat pockets.

Any good? They are beautifully made. The canvas case might just be my favorite phone case so far, along with some of the Apple and Google ‘official’ cases. It’s not soft to touch, but has a nice grip and fits perfectly. The slots to attach a wrist strap are a nice touch too. The leather case is very nice but does seem to be show signs of wear much more quickly.

The lenses are metal build, feel very sturdy and look great. The attention to detail is excellent, with little markings on the case and lens helping you to line them up when you’re attached the lens. Each lens comes with its own little lens cap and bag, with the focal length printed on the bag in case you have a few of them. Small touches, but they make a difference.

They aren’t going to make your phone pictures significantly sharper or magically add resolution. But they do a great job of converting to a different focal length without any noticeable detriment to the image quality, and that’s really all you can ask for. The lens does add a significant chunk of weight to you phone so it does immediately feel top-heavy, enough that you wouldn’t just leave the lens on your phone while you’re using it for non-photography stuff, or at least not for long.


One other issue is that the iPhone XS (and I guess other dual-lens phones) switches automatically between lenses sometimes, not just when you select the zoom function or portrait mode. So that causes problems when the extra physical lens is attached. Using the Moment app gets around the problem, but you still don't have the option of portrait mode. For single lens phones like the Pixel 3 and iPhone XR, portrait mode works fine in the native camera app.

The main benefit to me is the confidence to shoot relatively close street portraits without my main camera if I don't happen to have it with me. Here’s a couple of shots from New Year's Day to give you an idea (on the Pixel 3, in portrait mode):


Laura, Jersey City, 01.01.19

Ramon, Jersey City, 01.01.19

You can see a slight blurring at the far side of Ramon's glasses in the second image, but this is the Pixel's 'portrait' algorithms, not the lens. Otherwise I couldn't be happier with the quality of the images.


They're not cheap for a phone accessory, but I think these lenses are a fabulous addition to a camera bag or photographers toolkit, giving your phone significantly more capability for not much weight and very little bulk.






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Headshot, portrait, street and documentary photographer in NYC and Jersey City

alastair.arthur@gmail.com

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