Shooting with an iPhone is an excellent alternative in places where a DSLR is overkill, but in its default configuration, it lacks quite a few features. The company Moment offers solutions to most of my issues, starting with their superb wide angle lens.
A few years ago, Kyle Ford already reviewed the original Moment lenses, but I thought it was time for an update as the lenses designs have changed quite a bit to adapt to the more recent cameras found on our current smartphones. The first lens I decided to try out is the wide angle. The situations where I found myself not being able to move and capture a whole scene with my iPhone while traveling are numerous. I thought the wide angle would be a great solution to this problem and to improve my landscape photography. After a couple of weeks using it, here are my thoughts on the lens.
When I opened the package, I was pleasantly surprised by the weight. It’s quite heavy and thus feels very sturdy. It’s made of metal and glass, with a mounting system on the back that is small but feels solid as well. The lens comes with a small pouch and a front cap cover to protect it from the dust and eventual scratches. I wish though that a protection would be offered for the back of the lens as it’s quite tricky to clean. The back seems to collect quite a bit of dust if you leave your lenses in your pockets without putting them in the pouch first. But it’s a small detail, as the bag does the trick just fine.
To mount the lens on the phone, you’ll need a case designed by Moment. There are two versions available. One is a minimal case made of rubber, plastic, and a bit of wood or black canvas for a prettier design, while the other is battery case, that doubles the battery life of your phone. The second option is only available for iPhone 7, 7 plus, 8, and 8 plus for now, and soon will be for the iPhone X too. The standard case, however, comes in different designs to accommodate most of the recent high-end phones – Pixel, Pixel XL, Galaxy S8 and S9, and some of the older versions of the iPhone.
The way the lens attaches to the case is straightforward: place your glass on the case while aligning the line that is printed on the lens with the one engraved in the case, rotate the lens clockwise and done. It takes about two to three seconds to put it on or remove it, making it very practical even in situations where you don’t want to miss the moment in front of you.
The lens in itself is coated to diminish flare and reflection. It’s hard to judge the glass only by its look but does look pretty, and as soon as I had put the case on my phone, I mounted the lens to check out the results.
The lens is an 18mm equivalent, which in practice roughly doubles the field of view of the default iPhone lens. When first putting the glass on it might not seem like much, but once you start shooting landscape, architecture, or even portraits, the difference is very noticeable. The two images below show the difference between the field of view without and then with the Moment wide angle lens V2. Note that these images are totally unprocessed, so you can judge the vignetting, chromatic aberration, and sharpness from edge to edge as well.
In terms of image quality the Moment wide angle won’t make your image better. It will only affect the field of view. The image quality is limited by your phone in the first place; it may, however, make some imperfections more noticeable. I thought my images would suffer from more strong chromatic aberration but it wasn’t the case. However, the distortion was quite noticeable, but it’s nothing you can correct in post. At this kind of focal length, distortion is anyway something you’d expect from most lenses. Notice in the image below the distortion in the statue as well as the lack of sharpness in the crop near the edge. While looking at these examples, keep in mind though, that we are talking about a smartphone lens, and not huge DSLR lens.
Vignetting is minimal as well, especially when compared to the previous version. When looking at pictures people shot with the version one of the wide angle; the vignetting was quite noticeable. However, with the newer design, it’s not an issue anymore.
The lens alone costs $99.99, but you’ll have to add the case on top of that if you don’t already own one from Moment that is compatible with the new mounting system of the current lenses. The battery case will set you back $90 when bought with a glass – $99 otherwise – and the more minimal case is only $29.99.
At first, the price might seem a bit high for an iPhone accessory. But honestly, the lens is well built that I know I’ll be able to keep it longer than my current smartphone will last me. It even feels more sturdy than a basic DSLR kit lens such as an 18-55mm. Also, with the image quality, our phones are now able to produce for both stills and video, the built-in camera isn’t a gimmick feature anymore.
What I Liked
- Build quality is top notch
- Comes with a pouch and front cap cover
- Easy to mount on the phone
- Standard photo case is affordable and looks great
- Image quality isn’t degraded by the lens
- Battery case doubles your phone’s battery life which is great when shooting a lot of pictures or videos
What Could Be Improved
- No rear cap cover to protect the back of the lens from the dust
- The battery case is available only for a limited amount of phones
- The battery case cannot be used with lightning headphones. It will require you to use a wireless system to listen to your music.
As you can notice, the less positive points aren't really about the lens, but more details either regarding the battery case or the protection of the lens. The lens design is truly amazing, I'd be hard-pressed to find points to improve. Perhaps the distortion and sharpness edge-to-edge could be better, but I highly doubt it'd be possible to keep the lens as small as it currently is while making it perform better optically.
The new Moment wide angle lens design is an improvement over the previous version and is an excellent accessory for anyone who wants to shoot videos or photos with a phone. I never leave my house without my Moment lenses as they are so tiny and can always prove useful, even just to snap a group picture on a night out with friends. It’s hard to find a reason not get one, except for the price if you are on a tight budget. But other than that the wide angle lens is indeed a must-have.