There’s a belief among photographers that the best camera is the one you have with you. DigitalRev’s Pro Photographer, Cheap Camera Challenge (one of my favorite series on YouTube) is proof that you don’t need a massively expensive camera to take good photos, and cell phone cameras are the most likely thing to have with you when the right moment strikes. But what about those times when your cell phone camera just doesn’t cut it? That’s where the Moment camera system comes in.
Most cell phone cameras these days are pretty amazing, especially the camera on the Pixel 3XL that I’ve fallen in love with. But when you need to take a picture of something a little bit further than normal, or take a great photograph of a beautiful vista (or a smaller room) then the built-in camera isn’t quite enough.
The Moment lens system is designed as a bolt-on addition to your existing cell phone. Using a special case that slips over your existing phone the individual lenses quickly and easily mount to the case over your cell phone’s lens. The cases are available for a wide array of popular phones, including both my Pixel 3XL and my wife’s iPhone X, allowing couples to share lenses without needing to invest in anything more than a new case.
The biggest complaint I have about this system is with this case itself. The case is significantly thicker than the slim cases I’m used to, but that’s a function of the thickness required to make the mounting system work. It does feel a bit bigger in the pocket, but on the other hand you’re less likely to break your phone because you dropped it with all that rubber around.
There are a variety of lenses available right now, I bought three of them that provide the greatest variety of benefit to the kinds of images I usually take.
First is a telephoto lens that gives your camera a bit more zoom capability. With most cell phone cameras the only “zoom” feature available is a digital zoom that just “blows up” and pixelates the image you are trying to take. This lens gives you a bit more “reach” before the image starts to pixelate, making it great for getting pictures of things that are a little further away than normal.
Next is a wide angle lens. The feature I find myself using the most on my Pixel 3XL is the panorama function, allowing me to capture just a little bit more of the scenery than the standard camera app would allow. Using a wide angle lens allows me to capture all of that extra real estate without the extra processing power and in a more aesthetically pleasing format.
Finally I purchased a macro lens. For those times when you need to take a picture of things that are really small or tiny details of larger items, the macro lens is ideal. It even comes with a small fixture that positions your lens the perfect distance from the object and lets as much light in as possible to illuminate the subject.
The lenses are super easy to use. They all come with rubber lens covers that keep the lenses from getting scratched up and pouches that not only keep the lenses clean but also identify which one is which, a handy feature because they all look very similar.
Mounting the lenses is done by slotting them into the proper place on the case and rotating the lens 90 degrees. Two flanges on either side of the lens hook into the mount and keep it solidly in place while in use. Just be aware that the rubber case may bend while in use which might distort the pictures.
The lenses work amazingly well. The above photograph is a composite of three full pictures I took — the outer one is with the wide angle lens, the middle one is the “standard” Pixel 3XL camera without any additional lens, and the center one is using the telephoto lens. To be clear all three photographs are the same size to start, but I lined them up and shrunk them to fit within each other to show the additional stuff that you can fit in the frame with the wide angle lens and how much closer you can get with the telephoto lens to far away objects.
I’m a huge fan. For a small investment you get to augment your existing cell phone camera to take some amazing photos, and the lenses are way easier to schlep around than even the relatively small set of micro four thirds lenses I use on my Panasonic DMC-G6. Heck, all three lenses fit easily in a small pencil case.
The best camera is the one you have on you. These lenses just give you a little more range and open up some amazing possibilities.
Moment Cell Phone Camera Lens System
Case: $39.99 (Amazon)
Tele: $119.99 (Amazon)
Wide angle: $119.99 (Amazon)
Macro: $99.99 (Amazon)
Overall: * * * * * (5/5)
The best investment in camera equipment that I’ve made in years.