Mobile phone cameras are incredibly powerful now, and although they still aren’t as powerful as modern DSLR cameras, you shouldn’t let your phone’s photo capabilities go to waste.
However, there are still certain things mobile cameras can’t do on their own. One of the advantages of having a standalone, DSLR camera is the ability to swap out lenses for different applications. You can use a wide lens to capture as much of a scene as possible, or use a tele lens to get sharp, crisp shots of subjects far away. Your phone probably only has two lenses at most – iPhones have one standard semi-wide lens (about 28mm), and a medium lens (about 56mm). These get the job done for most tasks, and they do it well, but sometimes it feels like there’s something missing.
Moment, a mobile photography company, is trying to fill in the gaps where your phone camera falls short. Although phone cameras won’t be replacing DSLRs anytime soon, Moment makes lenses that are designed to give your smartphone camera a wider array of possibilities, including macro, tele, and fisheye shooting.
We tried out Moment’s 60mm tele lens($US89.99), the 18mm wide lens ($US99.99), the ‘Superfish’ fisheye lens ($US89.99), and the macro lens ($US89.99). To attach the lenses to your phone you’ll need one of Moment’s phone cases – we used the ‘Battery Photo Case ($US99.99) for the iPhone 8 Plus (cases for other phone models are available), which provides some backup battery charge to your phone, and it has a shutter button to allow you to easily capture photos without needing to tap your screen or volume button. The cases let you attach a lens to either the 1x or 2x cameras on your phone, depending on how much additional zoom you want (Note: you’ll have to manually switch which lens your phone is using in order for this to work).
Here are the results we got from the lenses:
Here’s the ‘Superfish’ fisheye lens.
The fisheye lens was probably the most fun to use.
If you’ve watched a skateboarding video from the 90s, you’re familiar with fisheye lenses. They have a super wide focal length, meaning you can capture a large amount of the scene (although it will be distorted, which is part of the charm).
The Superfish lens works well for quick street photography — you don’t have to spend a lot of time lining your shots up.
Here’s the 60mm tele portrait lens.
The tele lens gives an additional 2x zoom, so when coupled with your phone’s 2x zoom camera, you effectively get a 4x total zoom.
Photos taken with the tele lens tended to lose a bit of sharpness, but it wasn’t anything terribly noticeable.
Here’s what the phone’s 1x camera, with no zoom, looks like.
Here’s Moment’s 2x tele lens used on the iPhone’s 2x camera lens, for comparison.
The wide, 18mm lens probably had the least noticeable results out of the lenses.
Here’s a shot without any lenses attached.
And here’s a shot with the wide 18mm lens attached, for comparison.
While the shots are definitely wider with this lens, it might not be a necessary addition to your collection. You’re only getting a little bit more of the scene in frame, and you can usually just back up and take the picture farther away to achieve the same results.
However, if you feel your phone’s camera just doesn’t shoot wide enough, then this might make sense for you.
Here’s the macro lens.
The macro lens was probably the most difficult to use — you have to basically touch the subject to the lens to be able to focus.
But once you’re in focus, you’ll get shots that would have never been possible on a stock phone camera. This macro lens lets you get up close and personal with the subject, and your photos will generally come out crisp and clear. You do have to be careful with the focus though, as it’s easy to slightly mess up and get the whole picture out of focus.
You can even get some nice depth of field effects with the macro lens.
These lenses are definitely a bit pricey, so they’re not for everyone. However, carrying around just your phone and a few lenses is cheaper and easier than carrying a DSLR camera with lenses.
These lenses won’t replace your DSLR camera, and they’re not really supposed to either. They’re meant to make your phone camera more powerful, and they do a pretty good job at that. The macro and fisheye lenses are probably the best example of giving your phone camera abilities that it didn’t have before – the wide lens and tele lens weren’t as impressive, but they still got the job done effectively.
Swapping the lenses out is easy, and using the shutter button on the battery case is a welcome change from awkwardly fumbling with the phone trying to take a photo when in horizontal mode. It feels more natural, and similar to how you would normally operate a camera.
Overall, you’ll probably have fun with these lenses, and you might be surprised at what your phone’s camera is capable of with a few external additions.
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