Moment’s smartphone lenses are, in theory, perfect for people like me. I love taking pictures and have wanted to try more serious photography for a long time, but nicer DSLR cameras are expensive, bulky, and intimidating.
The new T-Series lenses from Moment, which launched last month and are now for sale, could be just the ticket for letting me take nicer pictures without investing in high-end camera gear. They’re hardly cheap — they range from $120 to $150 a piece — but they’re an easier pill to swallow: they’re cheaper than full-sized camera gear, lighter to lug around, and simpler to get into thanks to their reliance on a smartphone and camera UI you already know.
Moment gave me preproduction versions of four of the six lenses it offers to test. They’re well-constructed and weighty little black pucks with the look and feel of proper camera equipment. And they may even act the part. After trying them out, it seems like they have real potential in the hands of a professional — they genuinely let my iPhone camera do things that it just can’t do without them.
I was able to test out four of Moment’s lenses: the 58mm telephoto, the 18mm wide 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 the Anamorphic 1.55x, with variants that have either blue- or- gold-tinted lens flare.
But before we dig into the details, here’s a picture of my cat, taken with Moment’s telephoto lens attached to my iPhone 13 Pro’s 3x camera:
Moment’s lenses need to 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 piece that Moment sells separately from its camera mount cases. You can also mount them on various Android phones with either bespoke 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 pop a lens on and get right down to the business of — what else? — taking pictures of your cat. The closer zoom of Moment’s telephoto lens was a particular standout. While the iPhone 13 Pro has a great main camera and a solid ultrawide, 3x telephoto pictures have never been its strong suit. I think it’s there that Moment’s gear offers some of its biggest benefits.
These first two pictures were taken in Apple ProRAW and minimally processed to equalize their brightness (Moment’s telephoto lens produced ever-so-slightly darker pictures). They were taken from the same distance with a tripod, using the iPhone’s 3x camera, both with and without Moment’s 58mm telephoto, and one is a clear winner:
I have no doubt that the iPhone’s telephoto camera could get as detailed a shot on its own, but Moment’s lens let me take the picture from a good two or three feet farther away. Even so, Moment’s telephoto couldn’t save this picture of a guitar from the iPhone 13 Pro’s 3x camera’s low light fuzziness and, if anything, makes it more obvious:
For most normal shots, it’s not immediately obvious if Moment’s Wide 18mm 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 picture on the right leaves more in-focus tomatoes versus the naked iPhone wide camera on the left. The Moment lens also grabbed more of the scene:
In this next shot, Moment’s wide lens does a better job with bright, back-lit subjects than the iPhone’s main camera alone, creating a less washed-out picture (and a prettier lens flare):
Ever since Apple debuted the ultrawide camera on the iPhone 11 Pro, I’ve sometimes found it fun but rarely useful. Sure, you can capture more of a 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 fixed to the iPhone’s primary camera, I got a much wider, finer-detailed shot of this bulb — with fun perspective warping, to boot:
Apple later added macro photography using the ultrawide camera for the iPhone 13 Pro phones, and again it was fun, but I quickly got bored of taking close pictures of the thread on my pants or whatever. On the other hand, Moment’s macro lens gives you a shallower depth of field and the advantage of the iPhone’s much better primary camera for sharper detail.
It also works well with the iPhone’s telephoto camera, which lets you take macro shots from farther away so you don’t shade your subject. (You have to get very close for macro shots with the lens attached to the iPhone’s wide camera.)
And just look at the sparkly detail on this dusty little plastic moon guy’s helmet!
So, yes, Moment’s lenses are more than fun toys. But one thing to note here. The iOS camera app doesn’t play nice with them. It constantly refocuses, and it will refuse to use the iPhone’s telephoto camera when you have Moment’s telephoto lens over it, leaving you with a digitally zoomed main camera that’s partially blocked by the body of the Moment lens. Thankfully, third-party apps like Halide and Moment Pro Camera get around this with manual focus and no forced digital zoom.
The lenses’ size gives them a big advantage as a compact kit for travel photography. I would absolutely take them — especially the telephoto and the fisheye — with me on trips, to special events, or even just out on a nice summer day when I know I might run into something I would want a picture of, which is already a frequent occurrence for me. Though their tiny size has me at least a little concerned I might misplace them at some point.
I had a ton of fun playing around with Moment’s lenses, and the superpowers they gave my phone offered a taste of what I’m missing out on without a DSLR. I don’t know that I’d buy them for myself because I would almost certainly lose them, but that’s more of a me thing than a Moment thing.
Now, as a little treat, here’s a gallery of some of the other unedited pictures I took with Moment’s T-Series lenses.