Pictured above are the two lenses currently available from Moment that I stumbled across while browsing Kickstarter and immediately knew I had to have. The 60mm Tele and 18mm Wide are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, while maintaining the sturdiness and incredible optics of products ten times their size. The following are my first impressions after they landed on my porch.
Marc Barros studied at the University of Washington and co-founded the wearable action cam Contour. Barros created these lenses because he believes that the future of photography is in our pockets, and with the features and apps our devices have and are capable of, I see why. Apparently I was not the only consumer infatuated with Barros’ products, because after the Moment kickstarter went live Tuesday, January 14th, it surpassed their goal of $50,000 by the following afternoon.
Installing the mounting plate was a bit nerve racking, because if it is not positioned correctly, then your lens won’t be centered over the iPhone lens, which can cause some vignetting. However, if you’ve ever applied a screen cover to your device, this proves to be much easier. The plate itself is stainless steel and thinner than a credit card. The mounting ring protrudes a bit more than that, but not enough to be noticeable. Once the mounting plate is in place, it’s as simple as attaching your DSLR-like lens to the body, line up the dot with the gap in the mount and rotate clockwise 90º, BAM done. The set might take a bit of “breaking in” in order for it to easily rotate a full 90º, but don’t be nervous to force it a few times. Once that was complete, I slapped the wide on my iPhone and captured an embarrassing amount of obligatory cat photos, that of which I won’t subject you to.
Let’s get the hardware talk out of the way before I feed your eyes with sample images. Right out of the box, I was surprised at the amazing build quality of these little guys. The lenses aren’t just sturdy, they are pleasing to look at as well. The simple white logo with matte black barrels are just plain sexy. While they may scratch or collect fingerprints a little, they aren’t going to fall apart. Given their size and the fact that they attach to your phone, I wasn’t expecting them to be as heavy as they were; however, the weight actually aids in taking photographs with your phone with a nice counterbalance. Also, I found that the weight gives my phone a little more substance to hold in my hand, so I’m not constantly fumbling around with it. The lens itself provides a sizeable shape to rest my middle finger on while shooting landscape. Both lenses are 34mm wide and come with nifty microfiber bags to house them, which I neglected to notice was folded as their pillow in the box. Although, if the microfiber bags don’t fit your fancy, Stephen Jones over at Black Anchor makes a nice English Bridle leather lens holster.
Furthermore, the mounting plate limits the use of some cases, but the folks over at Moment are keeping a running list of compatibility here: (http://momentlens.co/case-compatibility/) I am slightly disappointed the Mophie cases aren’t compatible because I’m always needing some extra juice when I’m out and about.
Now, having just moved to the Pacific Northwest, which just happens to be one of the most instagrammable areas in the US, the timing of the release of these lenses couldn’t have been better for me. They are not large, but not small enough to lose either. You can easily pocket them or carry them in your bag of choice almost without notice. I can take them when exploring all the areas of my new home for the first time, rather than lugging around my DSLR, or my M3 and/or x100s that I usually opt for. Moreover, being former wildland fire personnel and coming from Nevada, I tend to be a little rough with things, most of which my phone. At first, I had reservations about losing or damaging these lenses, but after a few weeks of use, I’m confident these will outlast this iPhone as well as my next couple devices.
It’s always disconcerting when the skyline of Seattle or wildlife looks so great, but when you pull out your phone, it just doesn’t translate.The wide angle allows me to capture so much more of the landscape without gaudy distortion or the need to create a panorama. The telephoto, at 60mm, brings your subject to just past what you’re seeing with your eyes.
When using them in the wild, I had to make a point to seek out some flare on my photos. Once when the sun sunk a little lower in the sky, I was able to find the flare I was looking for. It’s actually kind of nice and almost resembles that of my summicron I use on my Leica. However, the most brilliant feature that you won’t see until you really get into processing your images, is the lack of chromatic aberration, something I find myself battling with in Lightroom daily. With no great means of removing it on my iPhone images, it’s important that the lenses provide me with the cleanest image to start with, which they deliver on 100%.
I did have one bit of bad luck with my first mounting plate; although, I’m not exactly sure what happened, and was most likely my fault. I was in a hurry to get out the door one morning and was cramming my phone in my pocket, which was twisted, and out of my old habit, I just forced the phone in until the pocket straightened itself out. Unfortunately, part of my fabric worked its way under the corner of the mount and bent it ever so slightly. I tried to ignore it, but it pulled apart and the adhesive couldn't hold the corner down any longer. Luckily, I had a spare from the other lens, and just reapplied it. Although, I have not had an issue since, just be mindful that something is glued to your phone.
What I Liked
- Quality. From lens design to the packaging they were brilliant. With a pre-order price of $100 each they deliver the quality beyond the price point. They are durable and look good on top of it, what's not to like?
- Simple. The use should be seamless for any photographer that uses a SLR, attach it and go nuts. They work great for any camera app from VSCOcam to snapchat.
- Size. The lenses aren't bulky, but still deliver on image quality.
- Price. I realize that $100 is steep for a mobile photography lens but with the quality that supersedes my cheaper DSLR lenses I won't be complaining.
What Could Be Improved
- Case Compatibility. I will have to forgo my charging case for a charging brick to keep my device juiced up in the field.
- Dirty iPhone lens. The mounting plate catches all sorts of goodies around the iPhone lens that my lens pen cleaners can't reach. What I've found works best is a lens blower and a lens cloth with a cuticle pusher to get in the small space.
- Selection. Moment currently offers the lenses in a variety of 2; 18mm wide and 60 mm tele. Now I want more. I also would like to see more lens case options for them to live while not in use.
Sturdiness and appearance are both important aspects when looking at lenses; but what my decision always boils down to is the quality of the images and the versatility they have added to my mobile photography. I can now say that my iPhone has earned a spot in my kit. But you don’t have to take my word for it, just one look at these lenses, and you’ll understand why their kickstarter raised 9x what the goal was. They are currently available for pre-order (http://momentlens.co/)
60mm Tele vs 18mm Wide
Bonus... Onyx photo!