The Pixel 4 is easily one of the best phones around when it comes to photography, with phenomenal dynamic range and the ability to pull off miraculous low light shots using its Night Sight and Astrophotography shooting modes. There's just one problem: where's the ultra-wide lens?
During the Pixel 4 launch event in New York a few months back, Google engineer Marc Levoy boldly made the claim that telephoto is more important than ultra-wide — something that baffled attendees like MrMobile and myself. For some people, I'm sure that's true, but as Google itself proved with the Pixel 4, telephoto can be replicated very well with computational data. You can always zoom into a shot digitally, but you can't zoom out without physically moving back.
That's where Moment comes in. The Seattle-based company has long been one of the leading brands in mobile camera accessories, with a range of high-quality interchangeable lenses that mount onto its matching cases to expand your phone's imaging capabilities. The cases are nice enough to use with or without the lenses, and Moment's 18mm wide-angle has really let me shoot the way Google should've let me in the first place.
At a glance
Bottom line: The 18mm lens gives you the wide-angle look that Google should have put on the Pixel in the first place. Of course, it works just as well with other phones like the Galaxy S10, and the high-quality glass yields fantastic photos when using your main camera sensor.
- Fantastic build quality
- Great optics with sharp glass
- Good case with nylon and wood options
- Lets you use your main sensor
- Lens flare issues
- Inconvenient to carry and attach
- Very expensive
Moment Lenses What I like
The first thing you'll notice about any Moment lens as soon as you pick it up is how great the build is. These are expensive for a reason; they're made with metal and high-quality glass, and that translates to far sharper imaging than you might expect from a third-party attachment.
You can zoom in to a shot digitally, but you can't go wider without physically moving back.
Each lens displays its focal length on the side of the casing, along with a small white line on the other side that helps align everything when mounting the lens to your case. There are plenty of different focal lengths to choose from (and even an anamorphic lens that lets you capture that filmic look), but since I've been using the Pixel 4 for the last few months, I've been particularly enjoying the 18mm wide-angle.
In some ways, this lens is even better than having one built-in.
Moment cases give you mounting points on each of your phone's cameras, meaning you can throw its lenses onto whichever camera you prefer. You can use this to combine focal lengths for unique perspectives — say, tossing a fisheye lens onto your built-in telephoto — but by far, my favorite is using the main sensor, which is always higher quality than the secondary lenses on any phone. Adding the wide-angle lens to my Pixel 4's main sensor gave me the all-encompassing perspective I've been missing, with sharper details than the iPhone 11's excellent built-in wide-angle.
The huge glass does introduce some lens flare, but you can work around it pretty easily by adjusting the angle of the camera slightly or even embrace it for some J.J. Abrams-style artistic shots. Imaging is truly fantastic, and using the 18mm lens really highlights just how much fun a wide-angle would have been on the Pixel, especially with the low light capabilities of its primary sensor.
Moment Lenses What I don't love
The biggest problem with Moment's lenses is that they're just not convenient to carry around unless you already know you're going to take certain kinds of photos. The whole reason I love shooting with my phone is because it gives me an incredibly capable camera that fits neatly in my pocket. I don't have to plan ahead or leave extra space in my bag — at which point I usually just reach for my mirrorless camera instead.
There's a level of immediacy that's lost when you have to attach a lens to your phone before you can shoot.
Moment isn't oblivious to this problem and does everything it can to make carrying its lenses easier. I was sent a small pouch and a fanny pack (or "bum bag," if you prefer the Queen's English), both of which have fitted compartments for carrying multiple Moment lenses. They're high-quality, and Moment makes other carrying accessories if neither of those matches your style.
No matter what you use to carry your lenses, though, there's still a level of immediacy that's lost when you have to pull your lens out of whatever pouch it's in and line up the markers on the lens and case before you can take a photo.
These lenses are also pretty hefty, and while I like that the weightiness makes them feel substantial and well-made, it can throw off gimbals my DJI Osmo Mobile. If you vlog with your phone and a stabilizer of any kind, these lenses might not be a great fit — which is a shame, because the ultra-wide lens is actually a great way to film yourself with the primary camera.
Moment Lenses Should you buy them?
I've been focusing on the 18mm wide-angle lens, but having also used the anamorphic and 58mm telephoto lenses, I'm pretty confident in saying that all of Moment's glass is terrific. That being said, they're still expensive at over $100 each, and not everybody will get that much money's worth from them. You'll need to be someone who's willing to put up with the added inconvenience of carrying extra lenses and stopping to attach them before shooting.
If you're okay with that, there's plenty to love here. Moment makes by far the best-quality attachable lenses I've used, and being able to shoot with your phone's primary sensor at different focal lengths is awesome. It's certainly cheaper than buying a dedicated DSLR or mirrorless camera and a set of lenses, and gives you the same satisfying shooting experience.
Sharp and wide
The wide lens the Pixel 4 needed
The 18mm lens gives you the wide-angle look that Google should have put on the Pixel in the first place. Of course, it works just as well with other phones like the Galaxy S10, and the high-quality glass yields fantastic photos when using your main camera sensor.
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