I had an hour to visit Changdeokgung Palace and was it ever a worthwhile stop. Rather than fumble with my Canon DSLR, I decided to save time by only taking photos with my iPhone 6s Plus and a Moment Wide iPhone lens* that I purchased right before this trip.
Per usual, I obsessively researched the best iPhone lenses and decided that the cinema quality glass of this 18mm lens was worth the investment. And, a number of professional travel photographers rave about Moment lenses, which are built by hand.
I’m glad to have used the Moment Wide lens for the first time at this noteworthy Seoul palace. Built in the 15th century during the Joseon Dynasty, Changdeokgung Palace was designed specifically to blend in with the surrounding mountain range according to pungsu principles (the Korean equivalent of feng shui). It’s this that distinguishes this from other palaces in Seoul and earned it a well-deserved UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.
The Moment Wide lens makes the palace feel even more grand. It captured clearer detail than I could otherwise with my iPhone only. I am more of a novice photographer than a pro, but I would say that the lens lacks the distortion that other wide angle iPhone lenses (and DSLR lenses) have.
As you can see, it was an overcast December day with lots of low fog. The more bright/natural light you can shoot in, the better. The closer you can get to the detail, too, the better.
The lens attaches to phones in two ways. I decided on the black canvas Moment case for iPhone 6/6s Plus* (other smartphone sizes are available). This allows me to screw the lens on and off rather easily. It also allows the phone to function more like a camera because the case actually has an easy-to-use shutter button. I like being able to put a case on when I know I’ll use the lens and take it off when I know I won’t use it. I have a designer case I like to use for everyday.
If not using a Moment case, you can attach the lens via mounting plates that come complimentary with the lens (you designate which type of phone you have at checkout). Note that mounting plates are not compatible with some smartphone cases. Since I would have needed to buy a new iPhone case to accommodate the mounting plate, it was actually less expensive to buy the Moment case.
However you attach the lens, the results are worth it.
Users of Moment lenses will need to download the Moment app. I like the app because it allows you to shoot in JPEG, RAW or TIFF.
I shot the images in this post in RAW and used Lightroom to lighten shadows and add a tiny bit of color.
Moment Makes the Best iPhone Lenses But…
The wide angle lens sometimes displays shadows along the edges if the lens and case aren’t screwed on properly… like this.
If the app is enabled, the lens case (which connects to the phone via Bluetooth) can drain some serious phone battery if you accidentally leave the app loaded. You also need to be sure to buy a lens cap* which is sold separately and well worth $5.
Who Are Moment Lenses For?
The iPhone can zoom (albeit poorly) but it can’t really go wider without pano mode which I’ve never been a fan of. I like seeing exactly what’s going to be in my shot before I take it. It takes less time to use a wide lens than to hold down pano on my iPhone’s camera while moving the phone from left to right to try to capture everything I want to in the photo. I delete and repeat most of my panos anyway.
Moment makes the Wide lens I’ve reviewed here, a Tele lens, a Superfish lens and a Macro lens. I have the 60mm Tele lens and like it but haven’t used it enough yet to provide a proper review. I suspect this is a great option for fast and easy food photography as it takes great photos of my dog in relatively close range.
I think these are the best iPhone lenses for people who are photography enthusiasts that want to take better photos with their smartphones without fumbling with a DSLR. They’re motivated enough by the desire for better photos that they don’t mind the extra effort of screwing a lens on and off (it’s really easy). If you do buy a Moment lens, I would highly recommend the cleaning pen*. It has a tip that can clean both the front and the back of the lens. I use it on my other camera lenses, too.
If you’re going to buy a Moment lens, or really any photography equipment, I find that B&H Photo and Video these days is the best because you can get free shipping and pay no sales tax outside of NY and NJ.
By the way, if you find yourself in the South Korean capital, one of the best things to do in Seoul is by far a stop at Changdeokgung Palace. I wasn’t able to tour the famous gardens due to time constraints but I highly suggest that you time a visit according to the garden tour schedule (the only way to see them) as they are supposed to be absolutely stunning.
Have an opinion about the best iPhone lenses? Please share.
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