This Is the Most Important Smartphone Photography Accessory You Can Buy
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This Is the Most Important Smartphone Photography Accessory You Can Buy

Smartphone cameras have improved immeasurably over the last decade, but if you’re using one to capture irreplaceable family and vacation photos--the types of photos you’d want to print and hang up on a wall--their small sensors still mean that your margins when shooting are really small.

Even the latest iPhones, for example, only capture 12 megapixel photos, which means that at the standard 300 DPI printing resolution, your photos will start to look noticeably worse if printed any larger than about 14” x 9”. That means that if you need to crop your photo to get closer to the subject you were trying to capture, you’re going to drop below the threshold of “print quality” pretty quickly.

Some recent smartphones have ameliorated this issue somewhat by adding optical zoom lenses, like the 2X lens included in many iPhone and Android devices from the last several years. These lenses allow you to get twice as close to your subject--whether it’s a portrait of your partner or a distant mountain range--without sacrificing any megapixels by cropping.

But what if your phone doesn’t have a zoom lens. Or what if 2X isn’t enough for the shot you want to capture? That’s where Moment’s Tele lens attachment comes in.

Moment Tele

Moment is hardly the only manufacturer of smartphone lens attachments, but most that you’re familiar with are relatively crude clip-on contraptions that can achieve zoom, macro, or wide angle effects, but with a considerable hit to overall image quality. Moment, on the other hand, uses specially designed cases, a custom app, and high-end lenses to capture print-quality shots that you couldn’t achieve with your phone by itself.

Moment makes a variety of lenses, but if you’re going to start with just one, make it the 58mm Tele (also available on Amazon). The small attachment sits over top of your smartphone’s standard camera lens, and transforms it into a 2X shooter. And if your phone already has a 2X lens? You can clip it to that camera instead, and suddenly find yourself with a 4x optical zoom.

4X might not sound like a lot, but it can let you get shots in high fidelity that you simply wouldn’t be able to capture otherwise.

For example, here’s a 1x zoom shot I took recently with my iPhone 11 Pro Max:

iPhone 11 Pro Max Wide Lens

Here’s a shot I took with the phone’s built-in 2X lens, which you could consider a stand-in for what you might capture with the Moment telephoto if your phone lacks its own zoom lens:

iPhone 11 Pro Max Telephoto Lens

And here’s one taken with the Moment Telephoto lens over my 2X camera, resulting in a total 4X zoom:

iPhone 11 Pro Max Telephoto Lens + Moment Tele 58mm Lens Attachment

Were I to crop the original image to look like the 4X image, my 12 megapixel photo would suddenly be less than 1 megapixel, and wouldn’t be suitable for printing at any size.  

Using the Lens

Moment lenses are small by photography standards, but still fairly large by smartphone photography standards, and won’t fit in tight jean pockets. But carrying one around while you travel is still far easier than carrying a dedicated camera with a zoom lens, and is made even easier with Moment’s Dual Mobile Lens Pouch, which can clip onto a bag strap or belt. To use the lens, you’ll first need to put your phone into one of Moment’s dedicated cases, but is otherwise as easy as lining it up with your phone’s camera, and giving the lens a quick quarter turn to lock into place.

If you’re using the Telephoto lens over your phone’s 1x camera, you’ll be able to capture 2X zoom images just like you would any other photo. But if you’re putting it over Apple’s 2X camera, you’ll need to use a third party photography app (like Moment’s own Pro Camera app) to force the phone to use the 2X lens, as your iPhone will likely default to the 1X lens in the built-in camera app, even if you hit the 2X zoom button on the screen, for reasons that are explained in more depth here.

The Moment app is worth using regardless, though, because it has profiles built in for all of Moment’s lens attachments to make photos look their best, and enables fine-tooth adjustments to focus, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, and white balance that aren’t readily available in default photo apps.

The quality of photos captured through the Tele are, essentially, as good as you would expect a smartphone photo to be...just zoomed in. Obviously, a lens attachment isn’t going to turn your smartphone into a DSLR, but the Tele doesn’t degrade your shots as you zoom in, which is as high a bar as a product like this can expect to clear (and one that every other lens attachment I’ve tried has abjectly failed to clear). The quality of your smartphone’s camera, and your own skills as a photographer, will ultimately have a greater bearing on the final product than the lens itself, but it could mean the difference between a priceless vacation shot that you hang up on the wall, and a forgettable snap that exists only on your phone, forever.

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