FREE! Plan Your Ideal Week: Bonus Workshop + Planner  →  Get the Workshop

Moment Camera Lenses for iPhone: A Review

Moment Lenses product shot

My first contact with Moment was during the earliest days of the mobile phone lens revolution. Like any nascent niche, the first generation of the Moment lens system was still finding its footing.

Now, years later, the company has released new products, built a sensational photo app, and refined their approach to mobile lenses.

With my daily carry compact camera temporarily out of commission, I decided it was time to take another, closer look at this smartphone-based option.

Moment Lenses product shot

Not a Toy: Serious, Small Glass

There are five lenses in the current Moment M-series line-up: the 18mm wide angle, the 58mm telephoto, the 25mm macro, the 15mm “Superfish” fish-eye, and the video-first anamorphic lens.

Based on my interests, I opted to try the wide, macro, and telephoto lenses, and before I say anything about them individually, it’s worth pointing out some shared characteristics.

Moment Lenses product shot

For starters, they feel significantly better built than I remember the first generation feeling, and certainly better than your average phone lenses. This is what you’d hope for at this price point, and I’m pleased to discover that you get what you pay for here.

Moment describes their construction as benefiting from aerospace-grade metal and hand-polished glass of the same caliber as the kind used in high-end film lenses.

Must-Have, Most-Used Photography Apps

We spend an inordinate amount of time sorting through hundreds of apps to find the very best. Our team here at The Sweet Setup put together a short list of our must-have, most-used apps for taking and editing photos on iPhone and iPad.

Send me the roundup »

Getting Them on Your Phone

All lenses require a case on your phone (sorry case-free folks!) that provides the compatible M-series mount. Moment sells several variations of cases for most modern smartphones (including my iPhone X), but there are also third-party cases with compatibility like the lovely leather ones from Nomad.

Moment Lenses product shot

The mount itself provides simple twist-on attachment for the lenses, and there are obvious indentations and markings to indicate the correct alignment. Lenses mount firmly, with no obvious play or wobble, but are still reasonably easy to remove as needed.

For phones with multiple cameras, it’s worth noting that the lenses can be mounted in front of either camera, meaning you effectively get access to two additional focal lengths per Moment lens.

The 18mm Wide-Angle Lens

I won’t beat around the bush: this is the best of the lenses.

If you’re thinking of getting a Moment lens to try, get this one first. Particularly for iPhone users who lack an ultra-wide lens on the phone hardware, the 18mm opens the door to impressive landscape shots, stunning contextual portraits, and a look that you generally don’t expect to get from smartphone camera hardware.

The Moment 18mm features surprisingly minimal distortion. Unlike fish-eye wide-angle lenses, the 18mm is rectilinear, which means its design prioritizes keeping straight lines straight and undistorted in the frame (when shot properly).

This made it my favorite of the lenses for use during a recent trip, where the extra width allowed me to more easily frame the grandeur of an impressive castle I visited.

Moment Lenses wide shot example 1

Moment Lenses wide shot example 2

Moment Lenses wide shot example 3

The 25mm Macro Lens

What it lacks in versatility, the Moment Macro lens makes up for in sheer uniqueness of output.

It’s by far the most difficult of the lenses to use, largely because its working distance is extremely narrow. The white hood it comes with essentially represents how close you need to be to your subject to be able to focus, which means you’ll be getting very cozy with whatever it is you choose to shoot.

Macro is a specialty genre though, so a bit of extra effort is to be expected, and in this case it’s immediately forgivable in light of the outstanding results you can get.

If you have enough light and get the positioning right, the amount of detail you can eke out of a smartphone sensor with this lens is remarkable — far better than I thought possible. It’s not a lens for everyone, but if you enjoy macro and don’t want to carry around a bulky setup for it, then the Moment Macro is very easy to recommend.

Moment Lenses macro shot example 1

Moment Lenses macro shot example 2

Moment Lenses macro shot example 3

The 58mm Telephoto Lens

Perhaps it’s just me, but this was my least used Moment lens by a long shot. It’s not because it’s bad in any way — it’s optically solid, much like its wide-angle cousin — but I rarely felt the need for its reach.

I think it has to do with shooting habits. I’m used to using my phone mainly for broader, more contextual shooting rather than relying on it for reach. But you do get quite a bit of reach here — when mounted on the 2x camera, this lens truly feels like a telephoto.

However, like with any telephoto, you’re much more susceptible to camera shake blur when using this lens. I found myself with a pile of unusable shots because I forgot to raise my shutter speed high enough to keep shots crisp — even in bright sunlight. In some ways, this makes the telephoto trickier to use since you have to remain mindful of this as you shoot with it.

Ironically, I find myself most tempted to use this reach in landscape shooting scenarios, where the ability to compress foreground and background layers together a bit more lends itself to interesting compositions. My goal is to force myself to spend more time with this lens and try it out in different scenarios to really get a feel for where it excels and when I should reach for it.

Moment Lenses product shot

A Few Downsides

As I’ve spent more time with them, I find myself coming up against only a few concerns, and all of them have to do with form factor.

Hanging heavy glass modules off your smartphone immediately turns it into an awkward, front-heavy thing that feels worrisome to hold without any support. I think using a strap or lanyard of some sort with the case is absolutely critical.

Moment Lenses Macro shot example

Similarly, the bulbous protrusion immediately removes the ability to fit your phone into any reasonably-sized clothing pocket, which leaves you needing to find an alternative carry solution like a bag or the aforementioned strap. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but it does change the way I am used to carrying my phone. It takes some getting used to.

Moment have thought of this though, not only providing their own strap, but also more recently with the introduction of a handsome Sling bag that features a pocket with a cut-out designed to perfectly cradle a smartphone+lens combo.

Moment Lenses macro example

Daily Carry

If you’re willing to make some adjustments to your method of carry, the Moment lenses are a fantastic ecosystem, built around the photographic intelligence of the smartphone you already have with you.

Best of all, since the lenses are universally compatible, you can swap smartphones without having to re-purchase the lenses — just replace the case with one that fits your new phone and you’re good to go!

Moment lenses macro example

I’ve come to appreciate having the Moment Lenses with me even when I have a bigger camera, and the idea of hitting the town with nothing but a small sling and a handful of tiny lenses for my smartphone has a pleasingly minimalist appeal.

After all, even the smallest camera system is larger than your smartphone, particularly with multiple lenses, and none have the versatility of being able to mount that lens in front of either camera on your smartphone to get even more focal length options.

Moment lenses wide example

Having found their footing and established themselves as purveyors of high-end photo lifestyle goods, I find myself more excited than ever to see what Moment do next.

Must-Have, Most-Used Photography Apps

We spend an inordinate amount of time sorting through hundreds of apps to find the very best. Our team here at The Sweet Setup put together a short list of our must-have, most-used apps for taking and editing photos on iPhone and iPad.

Send me the roundup »