Like millions of photography fans, the iPhone is my main camera. In fact, ever since my Nikon D600 took a suicidal, lens-first dive off a cliff and into a waterfall, my iPhone has become my only camera.
I’m always trying to eke out a little extra performance from my iPhone’s tiny camera sensor with new apps, tripods and lenses. Over the last three months, Cult of Mac has been testing various lenses for the iPhone 6 in a search for the best aftermarket glass. I’ve narrowed the field down to two top choices: the new Olloclip and Moment’s mountable lens system.
Unfortunately, iPhone 6 users can’t actually use both the Olloclip and Moment lenses at the same time. But if you’ve been considering getting new photo gear for your iPhone 6, we’re ready to break down the pros and cons of these aftermarket accessories.
Olloclip has become the biggest name in iPhone lenses thanks to its super-handy attachments, which add up to four different lenses to your Apple phone. Previous models simply snapped onto the corner of your iPhone, but for the iPhone 6 model, the company took a different approach, utilizing a new pendant design that works with front and back cameras for the first time ever.
The new Olloclip 4-in-1 for iPhone 6/6 Plus adds wide-angle and fisheye lenses to your iPhone as well as two macro lenses. Instead of snuggling onto the phone’s corner, the new design sports a metal clip that slides over the top of your iPhone. This allows you to align the Olloclip with your front-facing camera too.
The iPhone 6’s front camera already has a slightly wider field of view than its rear camera, but the Olloclip turns it into a perfect selfie machine. Instead of fiddling with a tripod and timer to get a mountain in the background of my selfie, I just slapped on the clip on while gliding in my kayak and snapped away. It’s one more reason to not carry around one of those silly selfie sticks.
The updated design also makes it a lot easier to keep track of your Olloclip. I had a habit of losing the old Olloclips. Now you just attach the Olloclip to your keyring, and when you’re ready to take a shot, the clip detaches from the pendant so you don’t have to bring the keys with you.
Olloclip’s two macro lenses give you 10x and 15x zoom, which can capture all the tiny details in the grain of wood or make ants look like giants. I focus mostly on landscape photography, so I don’t find the two macro lenses to be that useful, although if you take a plunge into #OlloclipMacro on Instagram you could easily be persuaded otherwise.
The fisheye lens is perfect for scenes where it’s impossible to capture all the details you want, even with the wide-angle lens. The fisheye produces a lot of distortion around the edges, but if you crop the main section into an square, it can look a lot better than sharing a panorama in a tiny Instagram square.
The Olloclip 4-in-1 only costs $80 for the entire four-lens system, which makes it the best value iPhone camera lenses you can find, but Olloclip isn’t without its flaws.
The Olloclip’s new design gives you more freedom in positioning the lenses, but that’s not always a good thing. Aligning the lens with your front camera is really easy, but getting it aligned perfectly in the back is kind of a pain. The iPhone 6’s smooth body offers no grooves to guide the Olloclip into place, so you must line it up yourself. The problem is, the clip also doesn’t sit perfectly flush with the iPhone body as it did with previous models, making it easy to accidentally touch or tap the Olloclip out off alignment.
If you want to keep your iPhone protected in a case while using Olloclip you’re totally out of luck. The metal clip is too narrow to fit over the iPhone with a case, requiring you to make your iPhone go nude each time you want to snap a wide-angle selfie. (You also can’t use Olloclip if you have a Moment lens-mounting plate on your iPhone.)
The glass quality of the Olloclip leaves a lot to be desired, too (see gallery above for comparisons of Olloclip versus Moment). The Olloclip wide-angle, which we used more than any of the other lenses, adds a lot of blurriness and warping near the edges of pictures. It does a solid job, but Moment’s lens is wider and sharper. Even though it’s more expensive to buy a single Moment lens than the Olloclip 4-in-1, if you’re just looking at Olloclip for its wide-angle lens, you should spend $20 more and get a Moment lens.
The $80 price tag for the 4-in-1 Olloclip sounds reasonable, but it doesn’t really hit all the right marks. I could do without one of the macro lenses, and the fisheye is pretty ugly. The perfect Olloclip for me would be a 3-in-1 with wide-angle, 10x macro and 2x telephoto. You can pick up a telephoto and polarizing lens iPhone 6 Olloclip for an extra $99. At that price, though, unless you love macro photogrpahy, you might as well just get the two Moment Lenses.
Moment is one of the newest players to enter the iPhone photography accessory arena. While Olloclip has staked out a name for itself by providing a little bit of everything for at a low price, Moment’s approach is to deliver the best possible glass for your iPhone, even if it comes at a higher price and heavier weight than expected.
Using a Moment lens requires a major commitment from iPhone users, thanks to the mounting plate that you glue to the back of your device. But if you’re not afraid to add an extra steel plate to your iPhone, you’ll get the highest-quality iPhone photos possible.
The first thing that stands out when you pick up a Moment lens is the incredible build quality. It’s bigger, heavier and yet more elegant than any iPhone lens I’ve ever used. The company sells two variants: an 18 mm wide-angle lens and a 2x telephoto lens. They cost $99 apiece and boast minimal distortion, thanks to the type of multi-element design typically used on cinema-quality lenses. It really stands out, producing a more consistent image than the Olloclip, though even the Moment lens produces a small amount of distortion.
Instead of clipping a lens over your iPhone, Moment uses a nifty mounting plate to attach lenses to your device. The plate is stainless steel and thinner than a credit a card. You simply peel off the back, line it up with your iPhone camera lens, and glue it in place. Kind of like apply a screen cover. Once your mounting plate is on, you attach lenses by lining up the gray dot with the gap in the mount. Rotate 90 degrees and boom, you’re ready to snap away.
The mounting plate allows you to use the lenses with or without a case on your iPhone. I prefer slapping a case over the Moment’s mounting plate because it looks odd to have a big black strip at the top of a naked iPhone 6. I’ve used it with Apple’s leather case and Fuz’s felt case and it worked fine, although some cases might not work as well (see a full list of compatible cases).
Moment lens aren’t limited to iPhone 6 either. The company makes a mounting plates for other iPhone models and Android devices, so unlike competing products, you can take your lenses with you to a new smartphone. The lenses are big, but not so large you can’t carry both in your pocket comfortably. They each come with a felt bag for extra protection. I found the mounting plate has an affinity for collecting dust and other dirt in your pocket, but Moment has a lens cleaner pen you can pick up for an extra $10.
Spending $100 on a single lens is a major investment for most iPhone photographers, but the results are so good it’s worth it. It’s incredible how much glass they were able to cram into the lens without reducing the amount of light that reaches your sensor. These two excellent lenses widen or narrow the field of view without sacrificing image quality. If you want the best-looking pictures, this is the lens to go with, but there are a few reasons why Moment lenses are not for everyone.
The mounting plate is Moment’s best feature and also its worst. Many iPhone users will be uncomfortable gluing something to the back of their device, and with Moment’s mounting plate it’s almost a permanent decision. Each lens comes with two mounting plates, but you can’t really reuse them after removing them because the metal becomes warped and doesn’t reattach to the back surface very well.
To make matters even more precarious, the glue on the mounting plates is almost too strong. We had to pry it off our devices with a knife. The glue pulled off a few spots of gold paint from my colleague Alex Heath’s iPhone 6 when he removed his, so make sure you’re careful when taking it off.
Despite Moment’s DSLR-like lens-mounting system, swapping lenses isn’t always as easy as advertised. I found myself fumbling to align the gray dot with the mount. In low light, it’s like an impossible guessing game. There’s also an issue with lenses not full locking into place on the plate. I had a lens pop off while taking pictures in the Superstition Mountains and watched it fall to its doom down a 400-foot cliff.
Moment is already working on a solution to the mounting plate problem in the form of an new case that adds more DSLR-style controls to your iPhone. The Moment Case looks incredible and will mount lenses directly onto its exterior hull. It also promises a multi-state button that brings half-press and full-press features to the iPhone camera, along with a camera strap. It looks kind of like Will.i.am’s ridiculous iPhone camera case, only it still uses the iPhone camera sensor, is actually useful and will only cost $100.
Olloclip versus Moment: The Winner
Overall, the new Ollopclip is great. At only $80, it’s the option most budding photographers should pick up if they’re just looking for a bunch of lens options. Olloclip is like the Swiss Army knife of iPhone lenses: It does almost everything you could dream of, but doesn’t do anything really great. If that’s all you need, you won’t have any regrets.
However, if you want the best images possible, there’s a new champion on the block, and its name is Moment.
Superb quality is already cementing Moment as the new iPhone lensmaker to beat, a company that’s crafting straightforward lenses that strike a perfect balance between simplicity, affordability and performance. If you want to get the most out of your iPhone snaps, Moment lenses are the glass you need.